DALLAS — A bill that would severely limit how teachers can discuss race and history in classrooms is now just one signature away from becoming law. House Bill 3979 would essentially ban the academic discussion known as “Critical Race Theory,” though the bill doesn't mention it directly.
It mirrors legislation being considered and passed by state lawmakers across the U.S.
“It’s going to be a very difficult thing to implement. And we’re actually very confused about it,” Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said on Inside Texas Politics. “It was something that we weren’t really even monitoring, and we didn’t know that much about as this thing was even being debated.”
The bill says teachers and educators can’t be forced to discuss current events, such as the George Floyd murder. And if they do hold those discussions, educators can’t give “deference to any one perspective.”
The legislation also prevents students from getting course credit hours for civic engagement and political activism.
DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said his district has a racial equity policy that was accompanied by many hours of training. He said the district would have to hire lawyers to determine what exactly of that they could teach.
With so many cameras in the classrooms these days, Hinojosa also fears some students and others in classrooms may turn into “race equity police” and start turning people in on purpose.
The superintendent is planning to meet with the Dallas ISD School Board to discuss next steps, which could include legal action.
“The board is very serious. They passed this policy [racial equity] 9 - 0 about making sure we appreciate people's multiple perspectives and cultures and climate,” he said. “And they've required all of us to get training on this from the board themselves, to my team, to every employee. And they wanted us to get it all in one year, so we may have to pivot and either stop that or pursue it and then take on a challenge, who knows. Stay tuned. It’s going to be interesting.”
During his appearance on Inside Texas Politics, Superintendent Hinojosa also lauded the district’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School program (P-TECH), which it is planning to expand.
“These kids are going be a lot better off. And they're going to be able to buy property in southern Dallas because they're going to have a disposable income because of this training and skills that they're getting.”
DISD has 18 designated P-TECH campuses. Students can choose a career path and take courses that provide the subsequent skills employers are looking for. And they can earn up to 60 credit hours, or an associate’s degree in four to six years.
"In 2009 when I was superintendent here, Hinojosa 1.0, only 7% of our kids got any kind of post-secondary credential six years after graduating from high school. This year, despite the pandemic, we're going to have over 10% of our kids get an associate’s degree when they're still in high school before the six-year clock starts,” Hinojosa said proudly.