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Here’s where the fight stands over Critical Race Theory in 2-state schools

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 12:41 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. - A few days before the formal end of the legislative term, Republican state lawmakers introduced a bill that would ban the “tenets” of Critical Race Theory from being taught in South Carolina public institutions.

The legislation, H. 4325, has 19 sponsors and defines Critical Race Theory as tenets teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”

The bill goes on to define it as teachings saying that, “individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.”

Gov. Henry McMaster, state Superintendent Molly Spearman, state lawmakers and South Carolina members of Congress have all spoken out against critical race theory since the legislation was introduced in early May.

In a Facebook post Spearman wrote, “The Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideology has no place in South Carolina schools and classrooms. The South Carolina Department of Education has no current or proposed standards that include CRT concepts and will not be adopting any CRT standards nor applying for or accepting any funding that requires or incentivizes the adoption of these concepts in our classrooms,” Spearman goes on to write, “We will not provide professional development opportunities or training that seeks to promote CRT amongst South Carolina educators.”

When asked about Critical Race Theory after a news conference Monday, McMaster told reporters it has no place in South Carolina.

“It’s certainly not necessary for the education of young people 4-years-old all the way up through high school. When you get to college you get to take a course on almost anything you want and that’s up to you, but I don’t think it has a place in South Carolina and I don’t think it’s helpful and could be harmful,” said McMaster.

Across the river in Georgia ...

The sentiment is similar is Georgia.

The Peach State’s education board last week approved a resolution that says the U.S. and Georgia are not racist and students should not be taught that racism or slavery are anything but deviations from the country’s “authentic founding principles.”

The measure was approved by an 11-2 vote on Thursday.

Gov. Brian Kemp praised the board’s move, which came after he called in May for swift action. He’s called Critical Race Theory a dangerous ideology and urged schools to stay away from it.

“I applaud the members of the State Board of Education for making it clear this dangerous, anti-American ideology has no place in Georgia classrooms,” Kemp said Thursday in a statement.

“State school board members have ensured education in the Peach State will reflect the freedom, equality, and God-given potential of each individual.”

What is Critical Race Theory?

“Critical Race Theory argues that racism and discrimination are systemic, meaning that they’re built into the institutions that exist in the U.S.,” said Dr. Mary Lizotte, an associate professor at Augusta University, told News 12 a few days ago.

Lizotte says teaching Critical Race Theory should have a place in schools.

“You would be doing the students and the community a disservice if you take this off the table,” she said.

Where do local schools stand?

  • The Columbia County school district says it has no plans to incorporate Critical Race Theory into the classroom right now.
  • Richmond County school officials say they’re following state guidelines, which don’t require Critical Race Theory.
  • Aiken County schools decided to table a discussion about three new courses and how they relate to the theory.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WIS