BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Two bills tackling the divisive topic of the so-called “Critical Race Theory” hit the Capitol Tuesday. It turned to lengthy debates about what the legislature should be mandating over schools.
Rep. Ray Garofalo brought two bills to prevent what he called ‘indoctrination’ when it came to discussions of race in the classroom. The House Committee on Education had a lot of concerns around the language of this bill and the possibility of conversations it could prevent.
HB1014 looked to ban conversations in the classroom that would imply that any race is inferior or superior to another. It also would prevent suggesting the country is systemically racist. Rep. Garofalo said he wants students to be told they are all equal and for teachers not to inject their own opinions on the matter into class discussions.
“They Black students are being told they are inferior, that they will never be able to succeed in life,” Rep. Garofalo said. “The white students are being told they are responsible for the things that have happened in the past, many years in the past, we’re talking about slavery.”
Some were concerned that it would prevent conversations around historical events that were rooted in race. Chairman Lance Harris pushed back against passing any legislation that would add on to the BESE-approved curriculum.
“One of the things this committee has done this year is we have tried to cut down on the legislature trying to dictate to BESE and the DOE as that’s their job,” Rep. Harris said.
A second bill, HB747, by Rep. Garofalo would mandate the teaching of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech – mainly focusing on the “judge not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character” part. He wants kids to be taught they are not any different due to the color of their skin. He mentioned multiple times that the country has changed to undo some of the injustices of the past. He also agreed that the issue of racism is not totally fixed in the modern day.
“The ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was toward the end of the story. So I didn’t see anywhere in your bill where you are required to tell the entire story,” Rep. Ken Brass said. “ In order to tell the entire story you have to talk about race, you have to talk about religion, you have to talk about national origin.”
Rep. Garofalo said he has heard hundreds of cases of classroom discussions having political leanings, but when asked he would not share them, saying he did not want to identify those who spoke to him.
In the end, both of the bills were involuntarily deferred and they will not come up again this session.