An administrator at a suburban Dallas public school told teachers who have Holocaust books in their classrooms that they should also be offering other perspectives last week. This was in response to NBC News' Thursday report by NBC News. The new Texas law limits how teachers can discuss controversial social issues.
Bookshelves in a West Palm Beach library. Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The Key Facts
According to NBC, Gina Peddy, a Carroll Independent School District official, advised teachers that if they have a Holocaust book, they should have an opposing one. Peddy responded to staffers' incredulity by saying, "True, thats happened." According to NBCs recording, the meeting was recorded. Peddy mentioned House Bill 3979, which was signed in June and requires teachers to discuss controversial topics in the classroom. According to NBCs recording of the meeting, Peddy said that the school system is also trying to navigate Senate Bill 3, which will take effect in mid December. This law, according to the school system, applies to classroom libraries as well as other learning materials that are made available to students.
According to Karen Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the school district, all Texas teachers are currently in a precarious situation due to the new legal requirements. We have not, and will not, mandate the removal of books or make classroom libraries unavailable.
According to HB3979, Texas teachers cannot be required to discuss controversial issues in public policy or social affairs. They can only offer different perspectives and cannot claim that a specific race is superior or guilty. When the Texas House passed the bill earlier this year, its lead author state Rep. Steve Toth (R) framed it as one of the strongest prohibitions on Critical Race Theory in the country. The bill is part of a wave of legislation in Republican-controlled states restricting how teachers discuss race: Some Republicans have taken issue with public schools approach to race, often channeling their outrage toward critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that explores systemic racism in U.S. legal and social contexts. Texas' opponents have criticized this legislative push, arguing that it makes it harder for teachers to engage in difficult conversations.
The Texas Democratic Party released a statement on Thursday blaming the Carroll Independent School Districts Holocaust claim upon the new Texas laws. Democrats have interpreted this as censorship. This is a terrible situation for all the parents who send their children to school every morning, as well as the Jewish communities in our state.
NBC News was told by politicians and state education officials that the Texas law was too broad for school districts. Bryan Hughes, the Republican state senator who wrote SB3, said that the bill does not reflect what it says. Toth and Hughes did not immediately reply to Forbes' requests for comment.
In the midst of a wider debate about diversity, inclusion and books, the Carroll Independent School District has been subject to repeated protests. According to reports, the district board issued a letter of reprimand to a fourth-grade teacher for displaying This Book is Anti-Racist inside the classroom. This decision was criticized by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial boards as micromanagement of a teacher that had previously received praises from administrators. NBC reported that the school district also provided training on classroom reading materials. However, the district stated that this session was scheduled in September and was intended to share best practices and assist teachers with HB3979 and SB3.
Southlake school leader urges teachers to balance Holocaust books and 'opposing views' (NBC).