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TN passes bill to withhold funding for schools teaching systemic racism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that would withhold funding from schools when students are taught about systemic racism and white privilege.

HB 0580/SB 0623 has officially been cleared through the General Assembly. It passed after a conference committee which discussed the description what critical race theory is, a spokesman confirms.

While most of the majority-white GOP caucuses in the House and Senate supported the effort, Black Democratic lawmakers warned the bill would make schools fearful to teach about the United States’ history on race.

“Critical race theory is rooted in critical theory, which argues that social problems are created and influenced by societal structures and cultural assumptions,” said state Sen. Katrina Robinson, a Black Democrat from Memphis. “How ironic that a body made up of a simple majority of white privileged men can determine whether even my grandchildren can see reflections of themselves in the history lessons at their school.”

A last minute addition to the critical race theory bill would ban schools from teaching students that “the rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups.”

Under a previous amendment by Representative John Ragan, schools would not include the following subjects in their teaching curriculum or allow teachers to use supplemental materials that include the following concepts:

  • (1) One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
  • (2) An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;
  • (3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex;
  • (4) An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex;
  • (5) An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
  • (6) An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex;
  • (7) A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;
  • (8) This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;
  • (9) Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government;
  • (10) Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people; or
  • (11) Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex.
  • This amendment does not prohibit an LEA or public charter school from including, as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or from allowing teachers or other employees of the LEA or public charter school to use supplemental instructional materials that include:
  • (1) The history of an ethnic group, as described in textbooks and instructional materials adopted in accordance with present law concerning textbooks and instructional materials;
  • (2) The impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history;
  • (3) The impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region; or
  • (4) Historical documents that are permitted under present law, such as the national motto, the national anthem, the state and federal constitutions, state and federal laws, and supreme court decisions.

An amendment claims it would not stop schools from teaching about “the history of an ethnic group,” an impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history, impartial instruction on historical oppression of people, or relevant historical documents.

The measure says if the Education Commissioner finds out a school is knowingly in violation, the commissioner will hold state funds from the school until the school provides evidence they are no longer in violation of the rule(s).

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