Teachers across the country protest laws restricting lessons on racism
On May 24, Tennessee approved a law that intimidates teachers into lying to students about the role of racism, sexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history. As a part of a national day of action against similar laws being proposed in states nationwide, we’ll walk downtown Memphis to highlight historical markers that describe events in Memphis history that teachers would be forced to lie or omit facts about to ensure compliance with the new law.
Overall, the law brings the state government into our classrooms to restrict the ways teachers can discuss race, sexism, and oppression in American history. The law uses vague language to ban teachers from talking about racial/social privilege and responsibility for the effects of historical oppression in class. It bans teachers from including material that makes an individual feel “discomfort” when learning about race or gender in U.S. history.
Unfortunately, a lot of American history is uncomfortable. But if it really happened, we should never lie to students in order to preserve comfort over truth. The law’s vague undefined language makes it even more of a problem. For example, it includes language that bans teachers from any lesson that could promote “division between” racial groups, genders, social class or other affiliations. Imagine having to teach about the massacres, lynchings, and systemic oppression of Black Americans that all went unpunished by the U.S. Justice System – but instead of prioritizing historical fact and legacy, teachers must prioritize appeasing state regulations that ban divisive history, whatever that means.
Certain interpretations could clearly be weaponized to punish and persecute teachers who discuss social justice in class. At best, too much of the law is unnecessary and subjective. At worst, it purposefully hamstrings teachers from teaching real history to students. Either way, educators understand what this is, a threat from state politicians: teach the history we don’t like and you’re breaking the law in Tennessee.
Published at Sat, 12 Jun 2021 18:25:22 +0000
Article source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/06/12/teachers-protest-laws-restricting-antiracism-lessons-in-school/