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TN lawmakers, educators express concern about banning critical race theory

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —Some lawmakers and educators are expressing concern about abill that passed the Tennessee Legislature.

HB 0580/SB 0623 bans teaching “critical race theory,” without naming the theory. The bill’s sponsor says that was by design, so that it couldn’t be rebranded.

“If we mentioned that term someone would just change the name, and they’d still be doing whatever they wanted to,” Rep. John Ragan (R-District 33) said.

Some lawmakers expressed concerns about how this will impact students in the classroom. Ragan said slavery and other difficult topics are still allowable, but that it needs to be “impartial,” Ragan said.

“It just must be presented in an impartial fashion – that is to say, all the facts, all the issues must be put out in front of students without favoring or disfavoring any of them,” Ragan said.

The president of the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association, Amanda Kail, said it’s difficult to talk about slavery without acknowledging the impacts it still has on daily culture.

“Not only slavery, but Jim Crow laws, segregation -- so many things have led us to where we are today, and America still struggles with racism, obviously,” Kail said.

She said she feels like the legislature is micromanaging.

“It’s a little bit of a strawman argument,” Kail said. “K-12--we don’t teach critical race theory particularly in our schools.”

Ragan says he has received emails about this happening across the state.

If a teacher does teach against these new guidelines, the school could lose state funding at an amount determined by the education commissioner.

Schools will need to provide evidence that they are no longer in violation of the rules.

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