Texas Senate passes bill that removes requirement to teach Ku Klux Klan as ‘morally wrong’

The Texas Senate has voted to pass a bill that would remove a requirement for public school teachers to teach that the Ku Klux Klan is “morally wrong.”

The agenda item was included in some two dozen curriculum requirements that were dropped in Senate Bill 3, which the Republican-dominated Senate passed 18-4 last Friday.

The bill addresses Section 28.002 of the state’s education code and is a follow-up to House Bill 3979, which was already passed and recently signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. That bill is set to become law in September, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The House bill requires that “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations” be taught in public school classrooms. Among dozens of examples listed in the bill are women’s suffrage and equal rights, and the history and importance of the civil rights movement including the teaching of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.”

It will also require teaching about the accomplishments of United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony’s writings about the women’s suffragist movement, and Native American history. The bill further states that public school educators must teach “the history of white supremacy” including slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, and ways in which the white supremacist hate group was “morally wrong.”

But in the Senate bill, those agenda items were removed.

“What we’re doing with this bill, we’re saying that specific reading list doesn’t belong in statute,” the bill’s author, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, told Bloomberg Law.

It also states that a “teacher may not be compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.”

Ku Klux Klan members form a circle around a burning cross in Rumford, Maine on September 27, 1987.Scott Perry / AP file

The Senate bill has to be considered in the House but cannot move forward because a large group of House Democrats went to D.C. in protest of a new restrictive voting bill. The Democrats have not said when they plan to return.

More than a dozen other states are either considering or have signed bills that would limit the teaching of certain ideas linked to “critical race theory,” the academic study of racism’s pervasive impact.

In May, the governor of Tennessee signed a bill that would ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools. Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, wrote in a letter to state education board members that they should “take immediate steps to ensure that Critical Race Theory and its dangerous ideology do not take root in our state standards or curriculum.”

The National Education Association and the National Council for the Social Studies oppose legislation to limit what ideas can be presented inside a classroom.

“It creates a very chilling atmosphere of distrust, educators not being able to be the professionals they are not only hired to be but are trained to be,” said Lawrence Paska, a former middle school social studies teacher in New York and executive director of the Council.

Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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