JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Legislation to ban the teaching of critical race theory was submitted this week in the Missouri Senate, which is in special session to work on laws related to a tax that helps fund Medicaid.
During the special session on Wednesday, state Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) introduced SB 5, which proposes a ban of "divisive concepts" in public school curriculum. The list of divisive concepts includes, "An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex."
Similar laws have been passed in several other states, most recently in Texas. Other states that have passed or considered laws banning critical race theory in public schools are Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
SB 5 is unlikely to get any traction this year because the current special session was called only to discuss renewing the Federal Reimbursement Allowance. However, it could be a hot topic when the regular session reconvenes in January. State Sen. Bob Onder (R-St. Charles) said critical race theory was one of the topics constituents have called him about the most.
Critical race theory examines how many elements of modern society, including legal and educational systems, perpetuate racism. The idea has existed for years but has become a political rallying point for conservatives after the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the publication of the New York Times' 1619 Project. Education experts say it is used in higher-level college courses and not taught in K-12 classrooms.
State Sen. Brian Williams (D-St. Louis) said bringing up critical race theory during the special session was political pandering on the part of Republicans.
"Less than two weeks after Juneteenth, we're trying to whitewash Americans' history by pretending that racism and slavery doesn't exist, and trying to prevent it from history curriculum is wrong," Williams said. "There's been so many Black Americans that have contributed to our state and to our county, and that history should not be diminished."
Jerome Morris, Ph.D., a professor of urban education at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, said this debate is a misuse of the term critical race theory.
“Critical race theory is not about all these things about divisiveness," Morris said. "Critical race theory is a framework to think about how do we create an equitable and an inclusive society that considers the voices and the experiences of everybody. Some people want this fairytale narrative about American history, and that’s not what it is.”
Morris also emphasized that critical race theory is not taught in grade school or even undergraduate courses. Critical race theory is usually only taught in doctorate-level classes.