Republican gubernatorial candidate alleges critical race theory in Texas employee training

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A Republican candidate for governor of Texas capitalized on Thursday on growing national disputes over critical race theory by accusing the Department of Family and Protective Services of training employees on the academic concept.

Don Huffines, a former state senator, said a whistleblower in the DFPS shared employee training that “clearly contains critical race theory.” The DFPS oversees child protection services, investigates reports of child abuse, and runs community programs to prevent abuse and neglect.

Huffines is running for governor in the Republican primary against incumbent Governor Greg Abbott, whom he called to stop using taxpayer money to promote “Marxist ideology.” His charge on Thursday is the latest in a series of charges against public employees – mostly schools and educators in Texas – for teaching inappropriate or obscene material.

Huffines described Critical Race Theory as a “disgusting” ideology dedicated to “pitting Texans against each other and dividing our state.” He called on Abbott to immediately convene a special session to “eliminate this poison” from the DFPS and all other agencies and universities in Texas.

The governor’s office and DFPS officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Critical Race Theory is an academic framework that explores how policies and laws support systemic racism, such as in education, housing, or criminal justice. Some conservatives have confused the theory with efforts to tackle racial inequalities or improve diversity in institutions.

Across the country, Republicans have focused new legislation and campaign rhetoric on eradicating critical race theory, even though educators say it is a concept that is largely confined to higher education or at the law school.

Huffins pointed out two elements of DFPS training. One in September 2020, a course titled “Knowing Who You Are,” includes sections on racial and ethnic identity and institutional racism. A PowerPoint document from November 2020 explores similar topics. It is not known how many people took the training or how it was used.

This is not the first time that Huffines have attacked the Child Protection Agency. In late August, he alleged that the agency was promoting “transgender sex policies to Texas youth” on its website on a page on gender identity and sexual orientation. DFPS officials then deleted the page, according to The Texas Tribune.

Candidates across the state and country took office on a platform that included denouncing critical race theory and attacking books they find questionable, largely those relating to race or LGBTQ topics. This week, for example, Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin focused on these issues in his campaign for governor.

Earlier this week, Abbott wrote to the Texas Association of School Boards blaming elected administrators for protecting students from “inappropriate content,” but failed to provide evidence that students had access to such documents.

Last week, a Republican candidate for attorney general – Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth – used his role as chairman of the House inquiry committee to launch an investigation.

He sent an anonymous number of superintendents a letter with a list of around 850 books attached and asked principals to identify where the books were and how much money the districts had spent on them. The books largely deal with topics such as race, gender identity, and sexuality.

But politicians did not just focus on the issue during the election campaign. Texas lawmakers have also spent much of the legislative session debating “anti-critical racial theory” bills aimed at restricting the way teachers talk about race and current events in the classroom.

This summer, Texas banned the discussion of certain concepts related to race and racism in the classroom, even though educators have repeatedly said that the law creates barriers for them when teaching the past and present of the school. America.

The bill went into effect on September 1, even after teachers argued that “critical race theory” is not something students typically encounter until higher education.

Carroll ISD school board administrators voted 3-2 in favor of discipline from teacher Rickie Farah after a student in his class brought home a book last year that the parents said. 'child, raped their

Gov. Greg Abbott enacted the bill after constant debate, procedural back and forth and calls from education groups worried about the deterrent effect it might have in classrooms.

Representative Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, the author of the bill, told his colleagues at Texas House that the legislation was necessary because “we don’t need to blame our children for racial crimes with which they had nothing to do ”.

Educators were concerned about whether they would need to tiptoe about current affairs because of the bill’s vague language, which is open to interpretation.

The bill itself neither specifies nor includes that it is an “anti-critical racial theory,” but rather includes a long list of topics that should or should not be taught.

Since the law was passed, school systems have berated teachers for donating certain books to students, suspended book clubs until stricter requirements can be set for their selections, and banned books from school altogether. classroom.

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The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation on pressing education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network , Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.


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