Teachers should be able to do what they do best: Teach.
Based on ESD’s founding tenets, ESD students are given a well-rounded education, covering the various perspectives of history, literature, science, art, math and religion in order to cultivate an educated conscience that recognizes the dignity and worth of every individual. The history curriculum taught at our school provides us with in-depth history education, something the Eagle Edition staff wishes to see represented in all Texas schools.
The Eagle Edition believes that politicians should not be able to silence the true history and thus present situation of black and brown Americans. The school should continue to promote diversity and equity, whether it’s through our curriculum or when training our teachers. We believe that all schools, public or private, have the duty of teaching honest history to their students. Students should be given the opportunity to study and inquire about current issues in the classroom when being taught about culturally relevant topics. Racism does not have to define our futures if we learn how to tackle it in our institutions.
“The school should continue to promote diversity and equity whether it’s through our curriculum or when training our teachers.”Eagle Edition Editorial Staff
In June, despite objections from educators and civic groups, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill aiming to regulate topics of systemic racism and its current effects in K-12 public school classrooms, which went into effect Sept. 1. Now, public school teachers walk on eggshells due to a lack of clear instruction on what they cannot teach. The Eagle Edition believes that students should be told the truth about structural racism and other forms of oppression in the United States.
According to the bill, teachers cannot teach that “slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States.” Given the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans by many of the country’s founding fathers, the U.S. originated from racism. Teachers cannot teach our country’s history without touching on such topics. Therefore, this bill is making it illegal to be frank to public school students, 73 percent of whom are children of color, according to a Texas Tribune survey. According to a Sept. 10 poll of 174 upper school students, 15 percent support Abbott’s decision to sign the bill.
Under the law, teachers can’t be “compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs,” according to Talia Richman and Emily Donaldson for the Dallas Morning News, and connect it to class topics. Social studies educators are not allowed to teach that a person is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, either consciously or unconsciously. School districts can’t require any training that presents race or sex stereotyping or blame. They also cannot require students to learn about the Klu Klux Klan and that the group’s white supremacy is “morally wrong.” The 1619 Project — The New York Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work reframing American history around slavery and the contributions of black people — is explicitly called out in the legislation.
Many conservative pundits have misinterpreted racial equity work done by professors, like the 1619 Project. According to many Texas educators, including Equity Education Consultant Salandra Grice, the approaches that teachers take when teaching race are much different than how right-wing politicians characterize it. Anti-racist teaching efforts affirm and empower students to make sense of their identity, communities and society. Schools are pledging to tackle disparities among children of color when it comes to academic achievement, discipline and other issues, far from incurring guilt in white students or establishing racial superiority.
The new vague requirements in the legislation have confused teachers and led them to fear for their jobs when discussing any current event in class. At least four school administrators in Southlake left amid backlash for leading inclusion and diversity efforts. James Whitfield, the first black principal of Colleyville Heritage High School, chose to speak out after the death of George Floyd, but was suspended after being accused of having “extreme views on race.” Individual teachers are receiving vicious attacks for simply teaching the truth about American history and current events.
The reality is that racism is still present in our country. Progress for underrepresented groups is encouraged only to the extent that benefits the status quo, and concepts such as color-blindness and meritocracy are myths that need to be resisted. Students are questioning why their schools and neighborhoods are so segregated, why police brutality is a commonplace, why it is so hard to vote and why more people of color are dying from Covid-19. Students are already talking about current issues outside of the classroom and trust their educators to speak about them, but the new legislation could remove productive debate and conversation about such issues. Schools should be safe spaces where students are able to talk about difficult topics and make sense of the past- working toward igniting lives of purpose.
*Approximately 80% of Eagle Edition staff members stand behind this staff stance