Mississippi State Senator Micheal McLendon collaborated with members of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy to draft a bill banning Critical Race Theory as a singular viewpoint taught in public schools.
McLendon has heard from DeSoto County constituents who voice they do not want such academic concepts taught in any public schools.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been around for at least forty years as an academic, social and intellectual movement. The idea advocates that race is not natural and or biologically based. Racism can come from individuals but is also embedded in legal systems and policies. It says that race is a culturally invented category used to oppress and exploit people of color.
The bill cites the Mississippi Constitution section 6, article IX, that prohibits colleges, universities, and public schools from forcing students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to certain tenets.
Tenets listed in the bill include that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior. It promotes that no one should be treated differently because of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.
The bill also lists that no one is responsible for historical treatment of another race or gender. The bill also would ban the state department of education and entities under it from spending money to promote CRT.
Douglas Carswell, president and CEO of Mississippi Center for Public Policy, lives in Jackson, Mississippi and is a former member of the British Parliament. He heads up the advocacy organization and was pleased with McLendon’s involvement.
“We’re absolutely delighted that Senator McLendon has taken up our bill. We wrote a report called ‘Combating Critical Race Theory.’ We sent a copy of that to every state legislator.”
“We do believe in liberty as an organization and freedom. It would be a real disaster to try and pass a law that bans CRT. You can’t, as a free market, ban an idea just because you don’t like it. That’s not right.”
Carswell said MCPP wants to ensure K-12 and public universities have a competition of ideas and not a singular concept like CRT.
“If you’re teaching a course explaining the world through the prism of CRT, you should also teach other views that contradict that,” Carswell said. “I think that’s fair and reasonable.”
Carswell said his organization thinks CRT is an extremist and Marxist ideology.
“I still believe in a free market,” Carswell said. “You’ve got to have academic and intellectual freedom in America. We do have a responsibility to make sure public money is not being used to indoctrinate children with one particular viewpoint.”
Carswell said he didn’t know if CRT was currently being taught in any DeSoto County School. He affirmed CRT was taught in Mississippi schools but didn’t elaborate.
“We did find some examples (of CRT being taught in Mississippi schools)...we didn’t think it would be fair to single out a specific school,” Carswell said. “Several people sent me specific examples.”
Both Carswell and McLendon said they knew of courses being taught at both Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi using CRT.
McLendon submitted the bill to legislative services last week. When he returns to session in January, his goal will be to petition each senator to co-author the bill.
“Then we’ll drop it in the box, which sits there at the lieutenant governor’s podium,” McLendon explained. “Whichever committee he sends it to, I’m assuming education, it’ll be up to the chairman to discuss. The bill is really simple.”
McLendon said CRT goes against the ideologies of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“He said he wanted his children to live in a nation where they wouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” McLendon said. “CRT says that one race is born to be the aggressor and another race is oppressed. It’s just not right.”
McLendon said he had spoken with DeSoto County School Superintendent Corey Uselton if CRT was being taught in any DeSoto school.
“He’s adamant that CRT is not being taught in K-12 DeSoto County School District,” McLendon said. “But, the Mississippi Department of Education, on their recommendation for professional development resources, has the teachings of CRT in some of the resources. We shouldn’t be teaching young children that they are oppressed.”
The feedback McLendon has received was mostly positive with some thanking him for proposing the bill.
“I’ve gotten about 95% ‘thank you’s,’” McLendon said. “‘Why are we wasting our time on something that we’re not teaching?’ I like to tell them, ‘I’d rather be proactive than reactive.’”
Governor Tate Reeves said on social media Monday that he was pushing for a Patriotic Education Fund for schools to teach and highlight America’s accomplishments.
“There has been a push from radical leftists across the nation to teach children a vicious lie: that this country is fundamentally racist and that your skin color makes you inherently racist,” Reeves said. “Those two core principles form the foundation of a philosophy known as Critical Race Theory. It is destructive to young children. It runs contrary to basic history. It is purely propaganda for a group that wants to accumulate power by dividing American children into victims and oppressors. Elite power-seekers want to be seen as saviors, so they attempt to divide, humiliate, and indoctrinate our children.”
Reeves went on to say he expects legislation to pass next session to prevent “lies from being taught in any classroom funded by the taxpayers.”
“We also need to educate our children on the exceptional good that our great country is responsible for. No nation in history has ever done more to advance freedom, prosperity, and fairness. That should not be swept under the rug, it should be celebrated,” Reeves said.
“For that reason, I am once again proposing a $3 million investment in a Patriotic Education Fund from capital expense funds. Schools and nonprofits should be able to apply to fund teaching and extracurricular programs that educate the next generation in the incredible accomplishments of the American Way.”
A copy of the bill can be found on page 19 of MCPP’s report at: https://mspolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Combating-Critical-Race-Theory-FINAL.pdf