Josh Hawley to introduce legislation to fight against Critical Race Theory classes

Politics

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, nominee to be Attorney General, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Al Drago/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Missouri Senator Josh Hawley will introduce new legislation Monday aiming to promote patriotism and fight against anti-American classes.

According to a press release, the new legislation dubbed the Love America Act would require all schools and school districts that receive federal funding to ensure students are able to read and recite America’s founding documents and bar federal funding from schools that teach those documents are the products of white supremacy or racism.

According to Sen. Hawley’s news release, his goal is to fight against Critical Race Theory classes in K-12 education. Earlier this month, Governor Mike Parson took to social media to voice his opposition to Critical Race Theory.

The Love America Act has these requirements:

  • Requires students to read the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Pledge of Allegiance and recite portions of these foundational texts at certain grade levels:
  • In 1st grade, students read and are able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance
  • In 4th grade, students read the U.S. Constitution and are able to recite its preamble
  • In 8th grade, students read the Declaration of Independence and are able to recite its preamble
  • In 10th grade, students read and are able to identify the Bill of Rights
  • Would make schools ineligible for federal funding if they teach that the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Pledge of Allegiance are the product of white supremacy or racism.

He said in part, “Critical Race Theory has no business being taught in Missouri classrooms, but the vast majority of our schools are not doing that. Our state has a long history of valuing local control, and that is why local schools districts have statutory authority over curriculum.”

Sen. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) drafted a letter and had it signed by other Republicans asking Gov. Mike Parson to issue an executive order banning the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) and the “1619 Project” in schools. He wants it done before students return in August.

CRT is a hot-button issue that’s making headlines across the country as other states pass legislation prohibiting curriculum in their public-school systems.

Members of the House and Senate Joint Committee on Education heard testimony last week in favor of why it should be banned in the state, but Democrats in the meeting were upset because no one spoke in favor of CRT.

Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City) reacted by saying, “If we are interested in gathering information and really understand seeing a complete picture of what’s happening, for what purpose and the impact it’s having on students both good and bad, if bad, then, I hope that we as a committee really look at a completely diverse perspective as opposed to handpicking witnesses to testifying.”

Those who oppose Critical Race Theory protested at a Springfield Public Schools board meeting. The District told OzarksFirst in May it doesn’t have plans to add CRT in the school curriculum or teacher training.

“I believe that’s a word that is being used as an umbrella term all across the country right now, to apply to anything related to equity and diversity work,” said Stephen Hall, with SPS. “And I think there’s a great deal of misunderstanding regarding what that is. But what I can assure you, is it has nothing to do with the training that we are talking about, which is for staff only. This is not curriculum designed for students.”

Since May, according to the Springfield News-Leader, the district made changes in response to the feedback from those in opposition.

“A theme emerged after the first three trainings, and as a result, the district modified an image in one of the presentation slides and handouts,” Hall said.

Hall told the News-Leader the core training, and the intent behind it, did not change. He said that it is not unusual for changes to be made in the middle of training.

“Our commitment to high-quality professional development ensures that we continually evaluate and identify opportunities to enhance and improve — both the content and the delivery,” he said. “In this case, feedback was collected after each training session and was reviewed for common themes.”

On July 6, one of the nation’s largest teacher’s unions vowed to defend members who are punished for teaching an “honest history” of the United States, a measure that’s intended to counter the wave of states seeking to limit classroom discussion on race and discrimination.

In a virtual address to members of the American Federation of Teachers, President Randi Weingarten said the union is preparing litigation and has a legal defense fund “ready to go.” She promised to fight “culture warriors” who attempt to limit lessons on racism and discrimination by labeling it as Critical Race Theory.

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