The Michigan Civil Rights Commission took a stand in favor of academic freedom last week, passing a resolution opposing two state laws that would ban critical theory of race in K-12 public schools. .
On Monday, November 22, the committee discussed Senate Bill 460 and House Bill 5097, asserting a position against “any legislation that encourages censorship and the banning of books.”
The resolution says the proposed legislation “provides censorship for educators and gives students an inaccurate and incomplete account of US history.”
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an educational framework aimed at fostering understanding of race and racism at the institutional and structural level.
It is most often taught in colleges and universities. Since it is not currently taught in any kindergarten in late Michigan, both bills would preemptively keep critical race theory out of classrooms.
The CRT became a topic of political discussion across the country as part of The New York Times Project 1619, a collection of essays and literary works that drew attention to the onset of slavery in the States- United and its impact on American history.
Michigan conservatives argue that critical race theory inaccurately characterizes U.S. history and could be divisive among college students.
Senate Bill 460, sponsored by Senator Lana Theis, R-Brighton, and Bill 5097, sponsored by Representative Andrew Beeler, R-Port Huron, have both been introduced to the Michigan Legislature earlier this year.
Related: Michigan Lawmakers Debate Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory in Schools
Under Theis’ legislation, Michigan public school districts would be prohibited from teaching Critical Race Theory, Project 1619 materials, or other “anti-American and racist theories,” including that the United States. United are a “fundamentally racist country”, that the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States are “fundamentally racist documents” and that “an individual, by reason of his race, is inherently racist or oppressive, that either consciously or unconsciously ”.
Under Beeler’s legislation, Michigan public school districts “shall not in any way include the promotion of any form of racial or gender stereotyping or anything that could be understood as implicit racial or gender stereotyping.” According to the bill, examples of racial or gender stereotypes are statements, beliefs or ideas that individuals “hold a collective quality or belief” or “bear collective guilt for historical wrongs” on the subject. based on their race or gender.
The bills were referred to the Senate Committee of the Whole and the House Committee on Education and Career Preparation, respectively.
Related: The gubernatorial candidate threatens to wipe out the Education Department because of critical race theory. In fact, he can’t.
The Civil Rights Commission resolution goes on to state that the U.S. Constitution protects teachers and students who have the right to free speech in the classroom, according to the First Amendment, stating:
“… Academic freedom is fundamental to historically accurate fact-based knowledge delivered by trained education professionals. No fact, ethnicity, language, race or culture should be taken out of history.
The resolution also referred to comments made by State Superintendent Dr Michael Rice at a Michigan Board of Education meeting on Aug. 10, where he said students should learn more about race and racism.
The only Republican member of the commission, Ira Combs, Jr., said he doesn’t believe critical race theory is legitimate terminology.
“I would prefer it to be called the critical history of the race,” Combs said. “Teach the story, teach the facts, and drop the chips where they can.”
Combs abstained from voting on the resolution. It was adopted with the support of five Commissioners: Commission President Stacie Clayton, Commission Vice-President Zenna Faraj Elhasan and Commissioners Richard Corriveau, Gloria Lara and Portia Roberson. Commissioners Regina Gasco-Bentley and Anupama Kosaraju were absent from the November 22 meeting.
Clayton clarified that the resolution was not intended to support or oppose critical race theory.
“What our resolution does is support the academic freedom of teachers so that they are able to teach historically and factually, and not remove any part of the story that might cause some harm. comfortable, such as ethnicity, race or gender, ”Clayton said.
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