He teaches critical race theory. He has issues with GOP efforts to ban him


There’s a certain ‘slander’ at the heart of dueling bills aimed at limiting how teachers talk to students about race, sexuality, history and politics, says Timothy Messer-Kruse .

If you read the legislation, he said, their language presupposes that educators are engaged in practices such as indoctrination, guilt and the imposition of their personal policies on students.

As a graduate professor of critical race theory — the target of legislative bans by conservative lawmakers nationwide — in the ethnic studies department at Bowling Green State University, he said in an interview that he was a policy based on false pretences.

My best practice as a teacher is to encourage students to think about their ideas, even if their ideas are wrong, because that’s how we learn to think and how we learn to argue. I have never seen my role as an instructor as one of indoctrinating my students.

Two Ohio bills in particular target how teachers handle sensitive topics. One, House Bill 327, prohibits elementary, secondary, and middle school teachers from teaching any of seven “dividing concepts,” including:

  • “That not every individual can succeed or achieve equality because of race, ethnicity, color, sex, religion, or national origin”
  • “This meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist”
  • “That individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, sex, religion 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, sex, religion, or national origin”

Another bill takes the “divisive concepts” component and embeds it in similar legislation that prevents school districts from adopting curriculum around: critical race theory; intersectional theory; The 1619 Project; diversity, equity and inclusion learning outcomes; and inherited racial guilt.

This legislation, House Bill 616, also prohibits the teaching of “sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade. class students. Any such teaching must be “age-appropriate” for students in grades four through twelfth. Legislation does not define the term “age appropriate”

According to Kruse, the real purpose of the bills is to stop anti-racist activity and temper free speech around racial dynamics, discrimination and prejudice in America.

“The point of really defining what these supposedly divisive comments are is to create a chilling atmosphere where teachers and college instructors self-censor and self-regulate for fear of crossing these very blurry lines that are being created in legislation,” he said. he declared. .

Critical race theory is an academic approach to law, politics and economics that essentially assumes that laws can and do have unequal outcomes along racial lines – even if the black-and-white text of laws does not does not explicitly mention race.

An example of its usefulness, according to Kruse: anti-lynching laws. In March, President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, named after the 14-year-old black boy who was tortured and murdered after a rumor circulated that he whistled a white woman. The passage marked a success after 200 legislative efforts to do so failed over the past 100 years, according to the Washington Post.

More than 4,000 black Americans have been murdered by white mobs since the 1880s, according to Kruse. The failure to pass such laws – for which the US Senate even apologized in 2005 – is a prime case study.

“This long history of refusing to create a legal remedy is in itself institutional racism,” he said. “It’s an example of how critical race theory can help us understand our own circumstances. Our own present moment.

The “Dividing Concepts” bill was introduced by Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur, R-Ashtabula. Arguing her views on the bill to lawmakers, she alleged that unspecified schools are imposing an “ideological test[s]on the students in order to get a good grade. She called it an “unconscionable perversion” to hold eight-year-olds responsible for the crimes of past generations.

Arthur discussed the bill in more detail in an interview with WEWS in March, using the Holocaust as an example. She said teachers can still teach about the atrocities of the Holocaust under the bill, but they should still “emphasize the value that each individual brings to the table.” She said the experiences of Jewish victims should be taught, just like those of Nazi soldiers. She described the Holocaust – which involved the systematic genocide of 6 million Jews – as a racial conflict that killed hundreds of thousands.

The expanded bill was introduced by GOP Representatives Jean Schmidt and Mike Loychik. Schmidt was captured on video last week running away from television journalists ask him questions about the law. Loychik Thursday writing on social media that educators should not “teach transgender or allow teachers to discuss their sex lives with kindergarten children”. They issued a joint statement on the bill.

“Children deserve a quality, fair, impartial and age-appropriate education,” they said. “This legislation promotes free and fair discussion.”

House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, said lawmakers were still working out the details, but noted that the concept of not “indoctrinating children” had broad public support. When asked where in Ohio children were indoctrinated, he avoided a straight answer.

“Whether they are or they could be, we see it as a preventative measure,” he said. “If no one is, then going forward it won’t really change things.”

Kruse offered another interpretation of the bills, as the primary elections approach.

“It’s just headline bait. It is not a real sincere and honest attempt to legislate,” he said.

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