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Michigan legislation aims to ban critical race theory from schools

CRT has has divided many in the United States between those who say it’s learning history and those who say it’s teaching “anti-American” ideas.

Updated: June 25, 2021 - 11:35pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A bill filed this week in the Michigan Senate aims to ban teaching critical race theory (CRT) in schools.

CRT has has divided many in the United States between those who say it’s learning history and those who say it’s teaching “anti-American” ideas.

Senate Bill 460, sponsored by Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, aims to ban Michigan K-12 school curriculum from including CRT, The New York Times’ 1619 Project, or any of the following theories:

That any race is inherently superior or inferior to any other raceThat the United States is a fundamentally racist countryThat the Declaration of Independence or the United States Constitution are fundamentally racist documentsThat an individual's moral character or worth is determined by his or her raceThat an individual, by virtue of his or her race, inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously

The bill aims to penalize any school teaching CRT or above theories after September 30, 2021 by withholding 5% of the total funds due to the school district or public school academy.

By Nov. 1 2021 and annually after, the bill seeks to make the Michigan Department of Education submit a report to House and Senate committees of schools in noncompliance.

Despite being more than 40 years old, CRT has evolved to a flashpoint in the last year between political parties.

CRT holds that “the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans,” according to Britannica.

CRT scholars allege many societal problems are rooted in the country's white majority using laws and other power to suppress the non-white population, whether consciously or subconsciously.

CRT opponents claim its conclusions rely on anecdotes and storytelling, rather than a comprehensive examination of evidence. They say its supporters focus on disproportionate outcomes from those individual stories, incorrectly drawing conclusions about institutional racism and white privilege and failing to take into account strides that the nation has made toward racial equality.

Rep. Andrew Beeler, R-Port Huron, filed a similar plan, House Bill 5097.

“Students go to school to learn, and our curriculum should not be teaching students to stereotype each other based on race or gender or to view themselves or their country poorly as a result,” Beeler said in a statement “My plan will promote respect among Michigan students and patriotism for the United States and the opportunity it provides to all, regardless of one’s background.”

The bill aims to prohibit the state Board of Education and local school boards from teaching the following:

Individuals of a particular racial group, ethnic group or gender possess a collective quality or hold collective beliefsIndividuals act in certain ways, including racism and sexism, because of their skin color or genderCultural norms and practices of one group should be eliminated to conform to those of another groupIndividuals bear collective guilt for historical wrongs committed by others of a shared racial group or genderActions of individuals serve as an indictment of others in a racial group or gender

Both bills have been referred to the Committee on Education for review.

Senate Democratic Minority leader Jim Ananich, of Flint, a former civics teacher, disagrees with the bill.

“We would be failing our students if we only taught the best moments in American history,” Ananich told The Center Square in an email.

“Progress requires us to thoroughly examine the dark moments, too, including racism, slavery, and genocide. It is shameful that some want to turn a blind eye to America’s reality, when one of the most important freedoms we share in this country is our ability to criticize and speak openly about our past and present. America is the best country in the world but pretending it’s perfect doesn’t help us get even better.”

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