Critical race theory ban bill fails to pass SC legislature

Legislation aimed at banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools failed to pass the South Carolina General Assembly this session.

The South Carolina House passed the bill on April 26, but it did not make it out of a Senate committee before the session ended Thursday.

On Wednesday, the House attached the legislation to another bill that had already passed, but the Senate placed it on the calendar on Thursday for consideration “tomorrow,” effectively killing the bill.

By the time the legislation made it to the Senate, much of the most controversial restrictions on teaching had been stripped from the bill. Instead, the bill called for creating a way to investigate complaints against teachers and required schools to post textbooks and descriptions of classes online.

AJ Davis, a founder of the Lowcountry Black Parents Association, said Friday he is pleased the legislation died, but there is still a provision in the state budget bill, which did pass, that will “neuter progressive education policy.”

“This is all about control,” he said.

Some politicians want to ensure that education reflects the point of view of white conservative Christians, he said.

Ryan Brown, spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Education, said Superintendent Molly Spearman was disappointed the South Carolina Transparency and Integrity in Education Act did not pass because it “would have provided both parents and educators with clear direction on prohibited concepts in public schools and given schools, districts and our agency procedures for addressing any instances that may occur and holding those at fault accountable.”

Brown said Spearman remains committed to “ensuring our public schools are free of indoctrination and bias in instruction and will use the one-year budget proviso language to create policies and procedures to enforce this to the fullest extent of the law.”

Opponents of the legislation were concerned the legislation might further drive teachers out of the classroom and lead to an incomplete education of topics, such as the Civil War and the civil rights movement.

“Race and racism is just as American as apple pie, but our ability to get past racism starts with the way that we teach our children and the way we talk to each other,” Davis said in a rally outside the State House earlier this year .

Critical race theory is a way of examining the United States’ history through the lens of race, focusing on the premise that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and are systematically promoting white dominance.

Nationwide opposition to the theory began in the wake of the New York Times’ 1619 project, which focused on reframing American history around slavery and racism.

Sponsors of the legislation argue teaching the theory is racist, will create further division between children and could make some children feel bad for acts they didn’t personally commit. Classroom teachings should be focused on the core curriculum, they say.

Critical race theory is not taught in South Carolina schools, the state’s education department said.

This story was originally published May 13, 2022 3:23 PM.

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