Republican committee members force vote on anti-criticism race theory bill | News, Sports, Jobs

CHARLESTON — Members of a House of Delegates committee on Thursday approved a bill to increase curriculum transparency and limit the teaching of anti-racist concepts commonly known as critical race theory while ending discussions and amendments to the bill.

The House Education Committee recommended House Bill 4011 Thursday afternoon in an 18-5 roll call vote. The bill now heads to the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee heard nearly two hours of questions from its attorney, a representative from the Department of Education and the bill’s lead sponsor, Delegate Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha. But Delegate Caleb Hanna, R-Nicholas, moved a motion to call the previous question on the delete and insert amendment, which cuts off all debate, and moves the bill.

“Will this mean that the bill will walk out of committee without any formal debate, no opportunity for the minority to make their case in debate,” asked delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson.

“Through this process, have we eliminated any possibility of proposing amendments to the amendment”, asked minority committee vice-chairman Cody Thompson.

“If you reject it, you have the opportunity to propose amendments”, said committee chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer.

HB 4011, also known as the Anti-Stereotyping Act, would require schools to post online all training materials and programs relating to non-discrimination, diversity, equity, inclusion, race, ethnicity, gender, prejudice or any combination of these concepts.

The bill would prohibit the promotion or endorsement by school employees and county school boards of stereotyping based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or national origin. The bill would not prohibit discussion of how stereotypes have been used to discriminate or data that reveals disparities between categories of people based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or ethnicity. national origin.

In a section, labeled “Preservation of freedom of expression”, the bill would prohibit schools and county school board officials from coercing students and staff to adopt a belief or concept that a race, gender, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or lower than another. It states that no one should be blamed for action committed in the past by someone of the same race, sex, ethnicity, religion or national origin.

The bill would prohibit public funds from being used to pay anti-racism and racial equity consultants or require students and staff to attend all sessions with such consultants, though it protects voluntary attendance. .

According to the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank that is proposing model legislation similar to HB 4011, 25 states have introduced bills to limit the teaching of philosophies based in part on critical race theory.

Opponents of the CRT say it teaches that racism is systemic in American systems of government and institutions, with white people inherently benefiting from these systems at the expense of marginalized minorities, such as black people or the LGBTQ community.

When questioned, Pritt told committee members that he was not aware of any specific instances in West Virginia where CRT-based philosophies are being taught in West Virginia.

“Just because we can’t cite a specific case doesn’t mean it’s not happening,” said Pritt. “Our job as legislators is to be proactive, not to react to everything…I can’t give you specifics on any particular issue.”

Instead of protecting free speech rights, opponents of these kinds of anti-CRT and anti-racism bills, such as the West Virginia chapter of the ACLU, believe that such legislation hampers free speech. expression and stifles discussion on complex topics, such as racial injustice, discrimination, civil rights and slavery.

“This bill is designed to prevent teachers from discussing diversity and equity,” the ACLU-WV posted on Twitter. “We need to teach issues like race the same way we teach math and science: as accurately as possible.”

Delegate Ric Griffith, D-Wayne, expressed concern about the unintended consequences of the bill. He said the bill could limit the discussion of historical topics in schools.

“Where do history and opinion overlap?” Griffith asked. “I can see there would be gray areas…almost all questions require an opinion…especially in history. Is it possible that it could stir a pan that could boil? »

(Adams can be contacted at [email protected])

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Sharon D. Cole