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Critical Race Theory Law Could Be Behind Latest Southlake Racism Controversy

SOUTHLAKE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - New allegations of racism in Southlake will seem for many like old news: until you look deeper into the root of the current issue, Texas' controversial new law banning so called "critical race theory."

"If your elementary school child is being taught critical race theory, you should be delighted and excited, because she's in law school," says Joe R. Feagin, PhD, a Harvard Educated Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M.

According to Dr. Feagin, the anger and outrage over CRT is a non-issue. "It's not being taught."

Until last year, critical race theory was an obscure academic movement, until it became the latest flashpoint in angry, divisive politics - one putting schools squarely in the middle. Schools like Southlake.

The outrage was instant and went national when an audio was leaked of a Southlake educator saying the following during a training session over how to navigate the law:
" you go through try to remember the concepts of [HB] 3979 and make sure that if you have a book on the holocaust that you have one that has opposing..."

Superintendent Lane Ledbetter sent a letter to district families, apologizing saying in part, "...the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history." And adding, "As we continue to work through implementation of HB3979, we also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts."

But Feagin says, consider this: the law requires opposing viewpoints on anything that can be considered controversial.

"You can get parents coming and saying they don't like that. So does that high school history teacher who wants to teach about the holocaust in Europe have to balance that with the holocaust deniers? That's what the law basically says."

Adding to the tension over race in Southlake, the school board last week formally reprimanded another teacher after a parent complained about the presence of the book 'How to be an Anti-Racist' in the teacher's classroom library.

"They're worried about being punished, they're worried about losing their jobs, about being demoted," says Dr. Feagin, "because the law is so vague and so unclear."

So his advice to educators?

"Always teach from the facts. Start with well documented facts and constantly present those to your students... and when you get into interpretation, be careful to back them up with those facts."


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