A controversial new Texas law went into effect Thursday that requires at least one teacher and one campus administrator at each school to undergo civics training. The content of the program has not yet been released but should be in place by the 2025-2026 school year at the latest.
Though it does not mention critical race theory explicitly, Senate Bill 3 stems from a national debate over how race and racism are taught in schools. Under the new law, a “teacher may not be compelled to discuss a widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.” The law doesn’t define what a controversial issue is. If a teacher does discuss these topics, they must “explore that topic objectively and in a manner free from political bias.”
According to Dr. Chloe Latham Sikes, the deputy director of policy for the Intercultural Development Research Association, SB 3 is more restrictive and broader than HB 3979.
“It does authorize the Texas Education Agency to create enforcement, power and enforcement rules to enforce how social studies is taught in schools. We don’t have those rules yet, but it did include that enforcement power. And it did broaden this list of prohibited concepts of talking about race and racism and sex and sexism from just pertaining to social study to all subjects K through 12,” Dr. Sikes said.
Critical race theory is a cross-disciplinary intellectual movement that states that U.S. social institutions are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race. It does not attribute racism to white people as individuals or even to entire groups of people. Across the nation, however, CRT has been used as an umbrella term to describe the teaching of Black history, including instructing students about figures like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X.