Critical Race Theory could just be a theory in Texas Universities


According to a statement by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, 30 priority bills are meant to be heard at the next legislative session later this year, including S.B. 16, 17, and 18 which restricts efforts of educators teaching Critical Race Theory in colleges across Texas, ban diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring policies and end tenure in public universities. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Erik Acosta, Staff Reporter

Sitting in a classroom learning about how laws and social movements can be shaped by social conceptions of race and ethnicity is a subject known as Critical Race Theory. This discipline can transform a student’s knowledge and learning, but a new Senate bill could potentially outlaw its teaching across universities in Texas. 

After heavy debates and long meetings in crowded boardrooms, many lawmakers across Texas came up with a few Senate bills that would be up for discussion. According to a statement by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, 30 priority bills are meant to be heard at the next legislative session later this year, among them are S.B. 16, 17 and 18.     

If passed, S.B. 16 would restrict the efforts of educators teaching Critical Race Theory in colleges across Texas, while S.B. 17 would ban DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) hiring policies in higher education and S.B. 18 would end tenure in public universities. Several lawmakers across Texas are fighting this uphill battle to guarantee these policies remain in place, while some Texas lawmakers are trying to remove policies that, in the opinion of some, foster inclusivity and a diverse atmosphere. In a press conference for Texas House of Representatives about legislative priorities, State Rep. John H. Bucy is one of many fighting this battle and filed a couple of bills earlier this year, March 3, that would counter sue these bills posing a threat to critical thinking being taught in higher institutions. 

“There’s a culture war about critical thinking and embracing other ideas, and I think it comes from people who are scared of change,” Bucy said. “Ultimately, they’re on the losing side, you’re not going to stop change.” 

Fighting to ensure these bills do not pass, Antonio Ingram, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), considers these bills especially, regarding tenure positions, as a general attack on educators and professors across Texas.  

“If you have tenure currently, you can maintain it but if you don’t have it, you will not be able to get it in the future and it’s important to contextualize the tenure attack, as they’re professors teaching subjects that the political leaders in Austin do not like,” Ingram said. “These bills are all working together to really attack public education in a multiracial Texas, in a reaction to the increasing levels of diversity in the state.”  

To some, Texas is becoming a more diverse state with free thinkers and individuals who want to create an environment that highlights and supports diversity, so one might ask themselves, “Why are these bills being proposed now?” 

“The political leadership sees how Texas is diversifying, they see that it is becoming a more increasingly diverse state and that education is a place where students are exposed to diversity, and world views that challenge them and makes them critical thinkers,” Ingram said. “There’s an impulse to silence those voices and students and the professors that are making Texas into a diverse and beautiful state in my mind.” 

Across the nation lawmakers have been pushing for bills to ban Critical Race Theory in classrooms and pushing the agenda on limiting what an educator can teach to their students. Knowledge is an enriching experience and limiting a student’s process of learning new ideas takes away what educators aim to do. S.B. 16 was brought up last week at a Higher Education Subcommittee hearing and is rapidly moving onto the next legislative hearing as soon as possible; S.B. 17 and 18 still have some time to gain momentum but will most likely be heard in early April. Walking onto campus where a student’s knowledge is limited and professors are restricted in what they teach, could be enough for students to find new colleges outside of Texas. With the possibility of these going into effect soon, some are asking for change. 

“Call your elected officials and let them know that this is something that you care about and raising awareness and letting people know that it is important and it’s going to impact us.” Ingram said. 

Erik Acosta is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]