The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) on September 26, 2022, voted 8-5 to approve changes to public education curriculum guidelines that aim to align with the requirements set forth in Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) concerning instruction about race in social studies curriculum.
Texas lawmakers passed SB 3 during a 2021 special session following the prior passage of House Bill 3979 (HB 3979), which Governor Greg Abbott (R) described as “a strong move to abolish critical race theory in Texas, but more must be done.” SB 3, signed into law by Governor Abbott on June 8, 2021, does not reference the term critical race theory but prohibits instruction stating that an individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, among other provisions.
The law directed the SBOE to align the K-12 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—the state’s required curriculum and education content standards—with the new requirements. The SBOE in August failed to overhaul the full TEKS and instead sought to revise the existing curriculum standards. These revisions included the addition of civics lessons to the social studies standards on ”understanding the founding documents, civic engagement, and an appreciation of the United States and its form of government,” according to a statement from SBOE Chairman Dr. Keven Ellis.
During a September 26 meeting, SBOE member Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D) discussed what she views as confusion in the education community regarding the language of the law and the stated goal of some lawmakers, including Governor Greg Abbott, to eliminate critical race theory instruction in classrooms. “People have talked about critical race theory without understanding what it is. The definition has become that this is teaching children to not like each other on the basis of race, which is not a correct definition of critical race theory,” said Bell-Metereau.
Pat Hardy (R), a board member from Fort Worth, emphasized that these revisions aim to provide better guidance on how to teach civics education. She said, “We’re working right now mainly on skills – specific skills – how to balance things, fact and opinion, that sort of stuff.”