Two NJ State Senators seek to prevent critical race theory from being taught in schools
Critical Race Theory became one of the focal points of the New Jersey Governor's race this year and while the election is over, debate continues on whether it should be taught in schools or not.
In a recent Monmouth University Poll, 75-percent of respondents favored teaching "the history of racism" in public schools (Democrats 94-percent, Independents: 75-percent, Republicans: 54-percent) while only 43-percent polled favor teaching critical race theory in public schools (Democrats: 75-percent, Independents: 40-percent, Republicans: 16-percent).
Now, a pair of New Jersey State Senators have joined together to introduce legislation which would prevent CRT from being taught in public schools as well as teachers from "engaging in political, ideological or religious advocacy in their classrooms," according to a joint statement released Tuesday morning by Senators Michael Testa and Joe Pennacchio.
Their legislation, S-4166, "prohibits a school district from teaching critical race theory as part of a curriculum, course of instruction, or through supplemental instructional materials that promote concepts related to CRT."
If their bill should pass it would prevent the teaching of critical race theory which includes a variety of topics/concepts.
- one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
- An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.
- An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex.
- An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex.
- An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
- An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex.
- Meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex.
- The State or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist.
- Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government.
- Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people.
- Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex.
- The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups.
- All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness or governments should deny to any person within the government's jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.
“Critical race theory is a thinly-veiled effort to legitimize discrimination under the guise of an intellectual social theory,” Senator Testa (R-1) said in a statement. “Our legislation ensures that New Jersey’s public schools will not teach students that it’s okay to judge others or themselves or to treat people differently based on broad stereotypes that some inappropriately ascribe to an entire race or gender. We believe every person deserves to be treated as an individual.”
“Every student should be empowered through lessons emphasizing the opportunity they have to succeed through their own hard work, individual merit, and the personal character they demonstrate to others,” Senator Pennacchio (R-26) said in a statement. “That’s wholly incompatible with critical race theory, which would indoctrinate students with the limiting belief that people are inherently privileged, oppressive, racist, sexist, or morally deficient due to little more than the circumstances of their birth.”
Senators Testa and Pennacchio explain that their legislation, "does not prohibit the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history or discussion of the historical oppression of a particular group of people. It also doesn’t prevent teaching about an ethnic group or historical documents."
If this CRT bill is enacted, a school district could lose their state school aid if they are found to be violating the provisions of the legislation until they are no longer in violation, the Senators explained.
Senator Testa feels that CRT is being taught in classrooms is part of a left-wing political agenda where certain lessons are being taught to young students.
“Too often, we’ve heard of teachers using their authority within the classroom to present their own beliefs on controversial issues as fact and to silence or punish students who dare disagree,” Testa said. “Our legislation prohibits teachers from pushing their political viewpoints in the classroom. They must be impartial and teach different perspectives when discussing controversial topics, and they should not delve into those topics if they’re not relevant to the subject matter of the course.”
Other language of their legislation would require the State BOE to put rules and regulations into affect to prevent any of these concepts from being taught, adopt guidelines to ensure everyone understands the new rules and that violating the policy could lead to termination of employment and to require teachers to use a balanced lesson plan by providing students, "with materials supporting both sides of a controversial issue being addressed to present both sides in a fair-minded and nonpartisan manner."
“Public school teachers have an obligation to help students learn the fundamental skills and knowledge they’ll need to be successful throughout life,” Pennacchio said. “In many classrooms, however, we’ve heard of teachers engaging in political advocacy and pushing partisan ideologies when they should have been teaching math, science, history, and literacy. Our legislation will prevent unnecessary and inappropriate distractions that steal from instruction time. Ensuring that classroom discussions remain focused on core topics will be good for students.”