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Sun Oct 24, 2021, 10:55 AM

Texas HB 3979 has unintented consequences leading to a bad interpretation


There are a couple of other discussion threads about the law, aimed at preventing the teaching of Criticial Race theory in schools in Texas. But in one school district, an administrator ordered faculty to teach or provide materials on the "opposite view' of the Holocaust when it is taught in class. In that particular district, there was a context to this action, since a teacher had already been reprimanded for a book she had in her possession, on combatting racism, which a student borrowed and took home without permission. A parent complained that it was to advanced for her child's grade level. That, in turn, caused confusion and fear among other staff members thinking that books and materials they had in their classroom could be used to reprimand them.

The community members, or at least most of them, stepped up and defended the teachers and administrators, supporting them as they try to navigate a poorly written, unnecessary, intrusive piece of legislation.

This law really needs to get into the courts and ruled as an unconstitutional violation of the first amendment.

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Reply Texas HB 3979 has unintented consequences leading to a bad interpretation (Original post)
lees1975 Oct 2021 OP
LenaBaby61 Oct 2021 #1
Igel Oct 2021 #2
lees1975 Oct 2021 #3

Response to lees1975 (Original post)

Sun Oct 24, 2021, 11:10 AM

1. THIS 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻

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Response to LenaBaby61 (Reply #1)

Sun Oct 24, 2021, 03:01 PM

2. Yes, it was a bad interpretation.

But this part of the law isn't new. It's been around for over a decade that if you teach a theory you have to allow opposing viewpoints to be heard, and then handled in a reasonable way.

"Reasonable" isn't "STFU and do as you're told." That's not education, that coercion.

So when teaching evolution in one class I had the occasional creationist pipe up, we'd discuss things, and my response was fairly straightforward: If s/he argues that the physical record is misleading or somehow falsified (either by people, god, or satan) then science is stuck; all it can do is rely on the physical because that's the rules of the game. It can't answer political questions, it can't answer moral questions, it can't say happiness is the highest good. It's not theology.

"So since this is a science class, we're forced to limit ourselves to the physical record and make sense out of it in those terms. I can't ask you to believe science, because it's not a faith system, but I do expect you to know the facts as they appear and the usual interpretations of them and understand the reasoning behind those interpretations." That's never gotten an objection, the strongly anti-evolution and anti-religion folk are both okay with it, and everybody keeps talking to each other.

In the end, nobody has a clue what I believe. Which is exactly how I want it. I take sides in a polarized environment, I'm both a lightning rod and I make my job harder by turning off some kids from the get-go. That's bad for me, that's bad for the kids.

But the law doesn't say that we teachers necessarily have to raise the objections ourselves, from the briefing on the law that I got at the start of the school year.

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Response to Igel (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 26, 2021, 10:24 AM

3. I think that approach is exactly what a good teacher does

No coercion, just "know the facts" before discussing. Gosh, isn't that what education is supposed to be doing? Giving students the facts, teaching them how to think critically but not doing the thinking for them.

It's pretty easy to tell this law passed the Texas legislature almost completely the way it was written by the extremist element who drafted it. They passed it off on the anti-CRT agenda, but it can be used for a lot of other things. Maybe there are school districts in Texas that have CRT in their essential elements, but I can't find it in the state curriculum standards. And as liberal as Illinois is when it comes to a teacher's academic freedom, it's not in the state objectives here, either. Of course right wingers claim that the door is opened by "code words," but I haven't seen one of them actually provide any evidence.

Good teachers understand that their free speech rights extend into their classroom, but most of them know the difference between using their influence as an educator to coerce students into a specific posture, or encouraging them to develop their own critical thinking skills by examining all the facts and not withholding or deceiving them. It is unfortunate that the Republicans in the Texas legislature see everything through an extremist partisan lens, but from their perspective, letting students learn how to think for themselves based on facts doesn't lead to their expected political outcome.

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