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Tennessee General Assembly Passes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory Tenets in K-12 Schools
May 6, 2021 Corinne Murdock
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill effectively banning critical race theory (CRT) from K-12 education. The legislature had to create a conference committee on Wednesday to resolve the legislature’s conflict on amending language effectively banning CRT in schools. That conference committee not only approved the ban – they added onto the ban. In addition to the original language of the bill outlining and banning 14 tenets of CRT, The Tennessee Star was informed by State Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) that the conference committee report added on three tenets. In effect, these tenets further defined the prohibited conclusions typically advanced by CRT.
“(12) The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups; (13) 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 (14) Governments should deny to any person with the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law[,]” read the added provisions.
Johnson expressed to The Star that he was pleased that Tennessee had effectively banned CRT from K-12 education.
“I’m very happy that we have passed a strong bill to prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in Tennessee public schools,” said Johnson.
Members on the committee were State Representatives John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), Mark White (R-Memphis), and Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga), and State Senators Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield), Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville), and Johnson. The House adopted the conference committee report, 69 to 20; the Senate adopted it 25 to 7.
In a quick back-and-forth on Tuesday, the House and Senate battled over Ragan’s eleventh-hour amendment banning CRT tenets after it passed in the House that same day. First, the Senate rejected the House’s amended version of the bill. In response, the House refused to back down from its support of the amended bill. Then on Wednesday, the Senate was presented with the House’s refusal to drop support of the CRT ban. Once again, they rejected the amendment.
As The Star reported earlier this week, this bill effectively bans CRT in K-12 education by prohibiting schools from using any curriculum or supplemental materials promoting conclusions of hierarchies or prejudices based on race or sex. It also prohibits any depiction of the United States as “fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist” or the advocacy of a revolution.
The complete list of prohibited subject matter is reproduced below:
(1) One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
(2) An individual, by virtue or the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;
(3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual’s race or sex;
(4) An individual’s moral character is determined by the individual’s race or sex;
(5) An individual, by virtue or the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
(6) An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual’s race or sex;
(7) A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;
(8) This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;
(9) Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government;
(10) Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people; or
(11) 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.
Once engrossed, this bill will head to the governor for final approval.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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