Another State Forwards Legislation Banning CRT

By Erika Hanson | 2 months ago

Missouri bill

Critical race theory (CRT) might just be the hottest topic in politics this year. Everywhere you turn, someone has an opinion on a controversial subject. In a never before seen endeavor, more states than ever are drawing up legislation aimed at prohibiting the teaching of the theory, oftentimes without any mention of CRT. Now, another state has joined the ranks looking to ban the teachings from public schools, as a Missouri bill passed votes in the State House on Tuesday.

Missouri bill HB 1858 passed the House chambers on Tuesday, April 19th. The Republican-backed legislation was first introduced by Ben Baker and touted as the Transparency in Public Education bill. The GOP-led House voted the bill through the chambers in an 85-59 vote, but some Republicans broke ranks and voted against the measure that would put restrictions on how race is discussed in classrooms of public schools. 

Missouri bill

The legislation seeks to ban schools from saying or discussing anything that could make the student feel “that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, ethnicity, color, or national origin.” Furthermore, the Missouri bill would also bar schools from compelling students and teachers to affirm that students from any race are “inherently superior or inferior.” However, the Associated Press noted that the text of the bill makes no mention of the words critical race theory, but it clearly looks to bar the ideals of the concept.

At its core, critical race theory is a topic in education that examines how racism throughout the nation’s history has shaped public policy and institutions. Furthermore, it studies how systemic racism has perpetuated America as being a predominantly White-run society over the decades. The actual study is used by professors in college courses structured around the topic, but opposers fear that it has worked its way into public schools, alluding that it is harming children by making them feel guilty for the acts of past Americans. The Missouri bill looks to change that.

Critical race theory was not the only thing discussed in the Missouri bill. Given that the name of the legislation is coined as the Transparency in Education bill, it also looks to give more parental rights in education. Schools would be required to notify parents of any misdemeanors or felonies committed by teachers and staff. Similarly, students would be required to obtain parental permission before attending any field trips or extracurricular activities. Another section gives parents more transparency in their children’s schoolwork. It would require schools to publicly share curricula, teachers’ salaries, and all documents used for professional development. If these provisions aren’t met, the bill looks to punish schools with funding restrictions if they fail to comply.

Missouri bill

Republican House member Doug Richey spoke of why he, like many others in the House, approved of the Missouri bill. “I have no problem whatsoever with tipping the scales in favor of the parents, because that’s how we communicate that we will work to regain your trust,” he said taking aim at parents looking to take back control of education. But not all Republicans agreed with the measure. Republican Rep. Mike Stephens was one of those members breaking ranks and voting against the legislation. Fearing that some of the mentioned provisions could have devastating consequences on public education and how teachers discuss History, Stephens said “Even though we want schools to be more open and we want the institutions of the public schools to be more open, we still have to have a system that is functional and that is not hamstrung by overkill and overzealous regulations.”

Now that the Missouri bill has passed through the House, it now heads to the Senate for discussion and eventually a vote. Given that the Senate is also controlled by the GOP, it will likely pass through without any major hurdles. After that, it heads to the desk of the governor for final approval. Republican Governor Mike Parson has spoken out against critical race theory many times and is likely to sign the legislation into law.