In KY, Republicans Want To Criminalize Teaching Students About Racism

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Republican state lawmakers in Kentucky have introduced legislation that would bar teachers from discussing systemic racism in their classrooms, The Louisville Courier Journal reports, as the GOP continues to demonize “critical race theory.”

Bill Request 60, prefiled Tuesday by Rep. Joseph Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, would prohibit public K-12 schools from using curriculum or supplemental learning materials that would teach students that one race or sex is “inherently superior.”

Teachers could not use materials “promoting division between, or resentment of” different groups, including different socioeconomic classes and racial identities. 

Schools would not be able to teach that an individual is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” due to their race or sex, the bill says.

Teachers would not be allowed to say the country is “fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist.” They also would not be allowed to promote or advocate for a “violent overthrow of the United States government,” the bill adds. 

Fischer’s bill request does not specifically ban critical race theory — an academic framework used to examine how systems and institutions may perpetuate racial disparities. 

A press release shared Wednesday, though, mentions critical race theory throughout and says the bill aims to ban the concept from classrooms.

Ricky Jones, professor and chair of the Pan-African Studies department at the University of Louisville, noted in an op-ed this week that Fischer is not alone in his current efforts.

Jones first explained that such legislation would have a direct impact on curriculum currently slated for introduction to the state’s largest school district in the near future.

Earlier this year, Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio and University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi decided to offer a college-level “Introduction to Black Studies” class to high schoolers. It’s been discussed for years but will now finally happen. For the first time, JCPS students will have the opportunity to engage in advanced intellectual engagement around this subject matter while also earning college credits.

A lot of people talk about diversity and anti-racism. Pollio and Bendapudi are actually doing something about it with the best tool available to them — education.

Sadly, if Republican Kentucky state Reps. Jennifer Decker, Joe Fischer and Matt Lockett have their way, this class and others like it will never happen. These legislators have pre-filed separate but almost identical bills that would prohibit the state’s public K-12 schools and colleges and universities from offering any curriculum or classroom discussions that seriously deal with race and racism.

K-12 schools found in violation would lose $5,000 a day in state funding. Colleges and universities would also suffer stiff penalties.

He continued that the “Republicans’ educational equivalent to Black Lives Matter is now ‘critical race theory’ (CRT).”

They are demonizing it. Even though Fischer probably can’t intelligently discuss CRT, he specifically targeted it when opining in a press release, “Critical race theory is not based on facts or evidence but rather serves as a dangerous diversion from education priorities that are actually proven to eliminate disparities.”

Of course, the centering on critical race theory is a canard and everything Fischer said is a lie. Informed scholars know CRT is a relatively new name for an old educational practice. We simply argue that discussions of race and racism should not be framed in elementary individualistic terms. In its most dangerous form, racism is indeed systemic. And yes, despite the claims of many Republicans (and some Democrats), America still suffers from systemic racism.

Jones wrote at the conclusion of his op-ed: “On June 11, 1963, Gov. George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in support of white supremacy. Fifty-eight years later, Reps. Decker, Fischer and Lockett are continuing that mission in a more veiled way. Even though they claim systemic racism and white supremacy don’t exist, they are reaffirming them by trying to stop educators in Kentucky from discussing these evils in substantive and honest ways.”

Read more.

Image: Kentucky state Rep. Joseph Fischer (R). (Screengrab / WHAS11 / YouTube)

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