Critical Race Theory has become a hot topic in America, starting as a debate circulating primarily in the world of education and growing into a full-on political argument. As CRT continues to be argued on both sides, one of the key issues lies in the erasure that can result from veiling over the facts of history for the benefit of modern day white students that might feel discomfort when discussing race in the classroom.
Take this recent example of an educators group out of Texas that suggested the word “slavery” be retaught to second graders as “involuntary relocation.”
The group received a response from the Texas State Board of Education last week, telling them to “revisit that specific language” as BoE chair Keven Ellis put it. Following a law change last year that prohibits topics in Texas classrooms that can make students “feel discomfort,” the nine-person group of educators have been pushing for final curriculum changes in November and don’t seem to be alone in their efforts.
More on the erroneous suggestion for slavery to be switched to “involuntary relocation” below, via The Texas Tribune:
“The suggested change surfaced late during its June 15 meeting that lasted more than 12 hours. Board member Aicha Davis, a Democrat who represents Dallas and Fort Worth, brought up concerns to the board saying that wording is not a ‘fair representation’ of the slave trade. The board, upon reading the language in the suggested curriculum, sent the working draft back for revision.
‘For K-2, carefully examine the language used to describe events, specifically the term ‘involuntary relocation,’’ the state board wrote in its guidance to the work group.
‘I can’t say what their intention was, but that’s not going to be acceptable,’ Davis told The Texas Tribune on Thursday. In 2015, Texas attracted attention when it was discovered a social studies textbook approved for use in the state called African slaves who were brought to the United States, ‘workers’
In this case, the group proposing these second grade curriculum revisions was given a copy of Senate Bill 3, Texas’ law that dictates how slavery and issues of race are taught in Texas. The law states that slavery can’t be taught as part of the true founding of the United States and that slavery was nothing more than a deviation from American values.”
The issue derives from the current absence of lessons on slavery in the second grade curriculum, with Ellis stating, “The topic of slavery is not currently addressed in the 2nd Grade curriculum; this work is meant to address that deficiency.” Harvard history professor Annette Gordon-Reed laid it out pretty spot-on, stating in response to the proposal, “The African slave trade is unlike anything that had or has happened, the numbers and distance,” also adding, “If language like what the group of Texas educators propose is accepted and taught to children, it means the country is moving in the wrong direction.”
“Tell children the truth. They can handle it.”
—Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University
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