Texas legal news in 2021 not only reflected the debates and court disputes being heard all across the country, but also frequently led those conversations. Each day through the end of the year, Androvett Legal Media & Marketing takes a look at the Top 10 Texas Legal Stories that shaped 2021.
Culture Wars, Critical Race Theory Go to School
While public schools across Texas struggled in 2021 with questions of mask mandates and whether to continue remote learning during the pandemic, a new front in the culture wars erupted surrounding how, or even if, teachers should present issues related to race and racism.
Depending on your point of view, “critical race theory” is either a way of understanding how historical racism has shaped American law and public policy or a means of creating and radicalizing racial division.
Although instances of CRT being taught in K-12 are exceedingly rare, school board meetings in Texas – and across the country – became ground zero for the polarizing debate. Carroll ISD in Southlake drew national attention for a series of racially charged incidents – including an administrator caught on tape suggesting that even instruction on the Holocaust would require an opposing viewpoint – and the creation of a well-funded political action committee that elected a slate of candidates opposed to CRT.
The debate over CRT did not escape scrutiny in Austin. Earmarked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as a legislative priority, a bill banning CRT in public schools passed, with Gov. Greg Abbott signing it into law. However, Abbott did not feel the law went “far enough” and sought a more restrictive measure. That law, SB 3, went into effect December 1. It not only limits how teachers can present current events, but also prohibits students from receiving class credit for participating in civic activities that include political activism or lobbying elected officials on a particular issue.
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