Kansas lawmaker to introduce critical race theory bill to ban it from schools

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A Kansas senator said they plan to introduce a bill banning critical race theory from being taught in schools.

Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, told the Kansas Capitol Bureau on Thursday that she will pre-file for next year’s legislative session a bill that would prohibit the teaching of the subject, also referred to as CRT.

“We need to make sure that race is not an issue,” Tyson said. “People should not be judged by the color of their skin. They shouldn’t.”

Critical Race Theory is the study of racism as a social construct that impacts legal systems and policies, arguing that some institutions oppress minorities. Tyson said it’s become a topic of concern for several of her constituents, as a national debate takes place on whether it should be taught in schools.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the Kansas National Education Association, Marcus Baltzell, said that current attacks against the concept seem to be a “siren” or “conflation” of the subject by “ultra-conservatives” intending to ignite a movement against the theory. He said no schools in the state are explicitly teaching the subject.

“No one is teaching Critical Race Theory as a topic,” Baltzell said. “Instead, they’re teaching how issues of race have impacted our society.”

Baltzell said there’s a clear distinction between the theory and other concepts being taught about equality.

The controversial topic has received pushback from some lawmakers and high-profile Republican figures in the state. GOP gubernatorial candidates, like former governor Dr. Jeff Colyer and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt have taken a stand against it.

State school board officials said they would not be recommending that the subject be taught, as it’s outside of their jurisdiction. Chair of the state board of education, Jim Porter, said that in Kansas, the state board of education sets standards for subject areas, not the curriculum taught in schools, which means the decision ultimately comes down to local school boards.

“How that is taught, and how that is implemented, and the exact curriculum, is the responsibility not of the state board of education, but the local board of education, and so we will not recommend curriculum in any form.”

CHAIR JIM PORTER, KANSAS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ON “CRITICAL RACE THEORY” CURRICULUM

However, the bill could potentially be unfavorable among public school advocates, as it would essentially allow lawmakers to make a decision on public school curriculum.

Mark Tallman, a spokesperson for the Kansas Association of School Boards, reiterated that the power to make curriculum decisions or decide what is taught in schools is maintained on a local level.

“Curriculum should be determined by local school boards based on feedback from their communities,” Tallman said.

Tyson is looking for co-sponsors of the bill. She said that CRT goes against the state’s and nation’s values and is not what the country was founded on.

“Not only this issue, but we also need to address the issue of socialism and communism, and it’s not being taught in our schools as to what those are, and how evil they can be,” she said. “We need to understand the history so that we can move forward in a positive, productive manner.”

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