The Texas House passed HB 3979 last night – an anti-civics bill that threatens to censor teachers and silence young Texans. We stand opposed to HB 3979 and its companion SB 2202 because we believe that our teachers should have the freedom to address controversial topics, engage students in experiential learning, and develop lessons without unnecessary state overreach.
No classroom and no student is the same, but all students deserve to see themselves reflected in their curriculum and have the opportunity to develop civic leadership skills. HB 3979/SB 2202 restricts teachers’ abilities to tailor their lessons to the needs and identities of their students, undermining student identities and teacher autonomy. The State Board of Education – not the legislature – should set classroom standards based upon historical accuracy and cultural relevance, not upon partisan talking points. Texas educators should be able to connect their social studies curriculum to the lives of their students to create a personal connection with our institutions and with each other. Without these personal connections and affirming conversations, students of color will continue to be left behind.
Over the last year, we have lived through a global pandemic, a racial justice reckoning, and an incredible increase in youth civic engagement. Our teachers need support from the state as they continue to work with students to understand these events and their role as an engaged participant in our democracy. We cannot ignore systemic racism – we must confront and condemn it from the classroom to the Capitol.
We stand with students, teachers, school districts, and chambers of commerce who oppose this bill, and will continue to support young Texans as civic leaders.