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TX Educators: State's Future is Diversity, Not Conformity

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Thursday, May 20, 2021   

AUSTIN, Texas -- When Michael Hinojosa was a government teacher, he encouraged students to read and study various sources from multiple perspectives, but a bill being considered by the Texas Legislature would discourage that approach.

House Bill 3979 would ban Texas schools from requiring that teachers discuss controversial events or difficult social issues in the classroom.

Hinojosa, now superintendent for the Dallas Independent School District, said if the bill is passed, teachers will approach their classrooms in a state of fear.

"And every teacher will be terrified that someone is going to be recording them and turning them into the 'racial police,'" Hinojosa asserted. "That is no way to operate."

Instead of spending money on educating students, Hinojosa argued passage of the bill could mean districts spend money on lawyers to interpret the law and defend teachers when they're accused of a violation.

At a news conference Wednesday, Hinojosa noted his district already has adopted courses on diversity, equity and inclusion that will have to be revamped if the law is passed. He added a policy for racial equity was passed by unanimous vote of the Dallas Independent School District.

"We have developed strategies, we have moved resources to make sure that every student has a fair chance and that we are racially equitable," Hinojosa explained.

Charlene Stark, senior advisor for the North Texas Commission, a regional nonprofit consortium of businesses, cities, counties, chambers of commerce and economic-development entities, said the bill is bad for the economy, business and the state's future workforce.

"To keep these workers and these students in the state, we need a more inclusive state," Stark contended. "And to be a more inclusive state, we need more diversity and inclusion training, not less."

The Texas bill is similar to those passed in other states where Republican lawmakers say it's needed to ensure balance and context.

Disclosure: Carnegie Corporation of New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

References:  
House Bill 3979

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