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Community members react to critical race theory bill

1 month 1 week 23 hours ago Thursday, May 13 2021 May 13, 2021 May 13, 2021 10:01 AM May 13, 2021 in News - Local

A proposed house bill would limit social studies teachers from talking about "controversial" issues, or current events.

House Bill 3979, authored by republican Rep Steve Toth, would limit discussions on anything promoting that certain people or groups are "inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive" based on their race or sex. 

One McAllen college student says the real problem with our history curriculum is the lack of positive coverage of minorities. 

"When people would say, ‘Well, there aren't many black people in the Valley, this isn't relevant,’ I didn't really know that it wasn't true,” Natalie Glasper said. “We really want to discuss the contributions of minorities to science, law, medicine, etc."

STC history professor Trinidad Gonzales says the bill doesn't make clear how this would affect dual enrollment classes and AP classes - in which instructors must teach both college and high school level material. 

“It's ambiguous concerning the issue of dual enrollment of history classes in the state of Texas, and it threatens the ability of high school teachers that teach advanced placement classes to be able to teach the course,” Gonzales said. 

Gonzales said this bill will also allow students to pick and choose what parts of history they want to learn - defeating the purpose of why history is taught in the first place. 

"Say a social studies teacher is teaching a topic like say, the Klan, or simply the history of racism in the U.S., and a student doesn't want them to hear about it because it makes them uncomfortable,” Gonzales said. “That student can then file a complaint against the teacher."

Hidalgo County GOP Outreach Chair Mayra Flores said she is against the bill, saying the bill looks at history as if it is meant to antagonize people now. 

"I just believe that we shouldn't teach our kids to focus on the color of their skin,” Flores said.

Channel 5 News reached out to the author of the bill, Rep. Steve Roth, for comments but Roth didn’t respond. But on Twitter, Roth wrote that the bill "protects children from the caustic effects of racism in Texas classrooms'” as a caption to a retweet about racism against white people.   

In other posts, Roth refers to critical race theory as "state-sanctioned racism".

Glasper says this will just breed more racism. 

"We can pretend not to see it, but that just becomes a way of excusing racism.” Glasper said.

Ruben Cortez Jr., the district 2 representative for the Texas State Board of Education, sent channel 5 News a statement reading in part, "I'm appalled by the racist curriculum legislation passed by the Texas House. I will never stop fighting for accurate representation of our history." 

The House will have to vote on HB 3979 once more before it can be sent to the Senate - although the Senate has already approved a similar proposal. 

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