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INNOVATIVE TEACHERS
OF TEXAS
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR TEXAS TEACHERS, BY TEXAS TEACHERS
 
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EDITORIALS

ITT members are encouraged to submit editorials for possible publication.

Submissions need to be 1500 words or less, and be written in publishable quality.

Send your work for consideration to:  info@ittexas.org

  • January 11, 2022 8:49 AM | Kenneth Poppe (Administrator)

    (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). Microbiology was only a side expertise in my bachelor's degree program, but going into April of 2020, I could already see the coming medical whirlwind pushed by politicians and medical bureaucrats.  With the aid of the media, they were going to radically change the rules on how to deal with the rapidly moving infection curve common to other 21st Century viruses, which we typically endure, recover from, and then move on.  (Think SARS, Swine Flu, H1N1, West Nile, Zika, the regular “flu season,” etc.)  Remember those earliest days of the COVID pandemic?  I surely do.  When my wife and I heard our city was going into lockdown at midnight on 04/05/2020, we thought of escaping to the country in our RV, but we heard the state patrol was closing highway borders.  Then came the months of quarantined huddling in our houses, the emptying of food shelves, the stockpiling of toilet paper, and the closing of "unnecessary" buildings (e.g., churches) while only the "absolute" essentials remained open (e.g., liquor stores).  Meanwhile, schools basically shut their doors for the remaining spring of 2020, and only the most dedicated teachers and students gave any real effort toward the spotty futile attempts at remote instruction.

    When school resumed in the fall 2020, it was the panacea of proper N95 mask wearing and maintaining the “6-foot social distancing rule” ... or else!   The plexiglass industry boomed, as if a floating viral particle could not get around a single-plane barrier between desks and chairs.  Also, those silly face shields with (double?) masking supposedly offered “complete” protection - if others would just completely cover their faces as well.  And for teachers who had not quit?  Starting in August 2020, they spent the year writing TWO sets of daily lesson plans ... one for those in-building students to whom a muffled-speaking teacher words could not be understood, and another for those at-home students whose parents bought into the growing fear sweeping the nation.  (Imagine trying to teach dynamic lessons - especially for courses such as PE, music, and art - via a laptop.  Ridiculous.) Under the Trump administration, the “call through fall” was for personal compliance to reasonable hygiene procedures, as a vaccine was on the horizon for 2021.  Meanwhile, as the 2020 presidential election and 2021 inauguration came and went, the Democrat party kept calling for the most severe personal restrictions. 

    I was there in the public schools for all of 2020-2021, folks. I would characterize the year as a gargantuan administrator and teacher effort that produced minuscule learning, and the worst situation I have ever seen for student academic and social growth.  One reason is the teacher unions jumped with both feet into what had become the mass COVID hysteria of maximum separation.  That’s even though healthy adult teachers are far more in danger of dying on their drive to school than from the virus, and abnormal sicknesses and deaths among school age children are ... I won’t even say virtually nil, but in fact nonexistent.

    The vaccinations started to become available in early 2021, just as the Democrat party took power, and soon the talk of national mandates became daily language.  Since then, the mainstream news outlets constantly run stories that promote the call for vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, followed by booster, booster, booster, and the firestorm never seems to die down as the Delta and Omicron strains add new fuel to the blaze.  However, what you never hear are stories that mention the increasing body of evidence on side effects and adverse reactions to “the jab,” or that vaccinated people still spread the virus and develop infections, or that Big Pharma and government health agencies downplay many common inexpensive drugs proven to be very effective treatments, or that natural immunity afforded by one’s DNA or gained by exposure (thank you Omicronis superior to any vaccine immunity.  All throughout 2021 the US bureaucracy kept trying to convince the public that COVID was a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” yet at the dawn of 2022, more people were realizing this narrative was patently false.  (I am especially offended that, as late as December 2021, the CDC was still running constant TV ads that urgently encourage parents to get their school children vaccinated.)  

    And how did 2021 end?  I will be straight here.  In 2020, President Biden campaigned on how, unlike his predecessor, he would lead a government that would stop the pandemic dead in its tracks.  Now after all the threats, reversals, criticisms of non-compliant state governors, and "goalpost moving,” he publicly said on 12/27/2021 that “There is no federal solution” ... listen here.  https://youtu.be/_veYmrxAjn8.  (And if you read Amazon’s currently #1 ranked book The Real Anthony Fauci by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., you may also conclude our highest paid “public servant” may face well-deserved prosecution someday for crimes against humanity.)

    In the professional rearview mirror?  Having taught most high school science courses for decades, my knowledge about virology kept me from buying into the hysteria from the start.  Having also taught advanced high school math, it is not hard to spot the manipulation of statistics.  For example, when cases of the common flu during 2020-21 disappeared from the radar of clinics and hospitals ... who receive federal funds for every reported COVID diagnosis ... it is not hard to connect the dots.  In other walks of life, I also have seen in the rearview mirror: 1) Members of Congress exempt themselves and their families from vaccine mandates, 2) Drug companies exempt themselves from lawsuits for products having no long term testing, 3) The administration threaten vaccination mandates for citizens while unvaxed masses of illegals are allowed to pour across the border. 4) Half a million maskless motorcyclers spend ten days in very close proximity, resulting in no so called “super-spreader events” after returning home. 5) The NBA (with close economic ties to China) go heavily into “bubble quarantine” and masks on the bench, while unmasked players breathe on, spit on, sweat on, and bleed on the same basketball they all grab. 6 A respected future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback who was totally asymptomatic being forced by the league to sit out a game - after trying every way he could to maintain his right to choose while not disappointing his teammates and fans.  (He was later interviewed from a "safe" six-foot distance by a female reporter ... who immediately bear-hugged him afterwards.). 7) Football stadiums at all levels being filled with thousands of unmasked fans shoulder to shoulder shouting down at unmasked players, while coaches sometimes make a pretense of wearing masks on the sidelines.  8) Americans being encouraged to cancel or greatly curtail holiday celebrations like July 4th and Thanksgiving, and told to limit attendance at birthday parties and even funerals.  Meanwhile packed crowds of unmasked rioters roam major cities destroying property, and aren’t even prevented from setting fires to cars, churches, police department headquarters, and federal buildings.  9) Large presidential birthday parties and gala Hollywood events being held where all are maskless except for the peons waiting on the elite. 10)  As of late, how masks now much more represent political identity than a need for protection.  (The ultimate in N95 masks still allows 5% of particles to get through, and now the sheep consider you in total compliance if your face diaper only consists of a thin piece of cloth bearing an animal face.). What have your eyes seen?

    In the personal rearview mirror?  Working around the excessive restrictions as best I could, my family and I lived our normal life of individual freedom and choice, which I know is antithetical to many politicians.  We shopped, traveled, held family gatherings, and went to church as normally as allowed, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who wore a mask less than I did.  Was I ever sick?  A year ago I had two days of some odd aches that quickly left – corona? – and much later a typical head cold that lasted for a week - but nothing more.  How about my extended family?  We had zero severe COVID illnesses, and our worst "crisis" was to occasionally share news of deaths of other people we heard about.  However, in every case if COVID was suspected, it was someone very advanced in years or someone with severe comorbidities.  So I ask you, how many healthy people that you know well provably died from COVID?  I suspect like me, few to none.  And my life today?  Since the start of the 2021-22 school year it has generally returned to normal here in Texas, despite a few strange practices going on around me - like the guy on a motorcycle wearing a mask.  And just like a teacher friend of mine in Florida, we don't even stuff an "emergency mask" in our pocket anymore when we are out and about.  By comparison, what is your life like ... especially if you live in places like California or New York?

    Through the national windshield, what does 2022 look like?  First, expect people to realize that scares such as Omicron (with mild symptoms and a chance for full immunity) has caused as many deaths as the invading “murder hornets” - remember them? Next, expect a massive political change come November.  This hopefully will bring wiser leaders who will put American interests over their own and support our Constitutional rights ... who then will appoint people in pivotal civil and military positions who will be sure the data isn’t skewed or falsified, and who will combat health problems by supporting sensible national measures based on valid science.

    How about through the educational windshield?  Most teachers I talk to - especially the dedicated ones truly out for the students - now realize how much they have been hoodwinked.  I find that in districts where the stranglehold of teacher union policies has ruled the least, already teachers have been gravitating back to their face-to-face “best instructional practices,” and this will accelerate as we wise up.  In the teaching ranks, perhaps some of the “deadwood” that have left the profession needed to go, and hopefully a new crop of educators entering the profession will be true to the calling. This will require some major overhauling in typical leftist collegiate teacher certification programs (check out www.snu.edu).  It will also require some “teacher union busting,” and a rise in membership in professional teacher organizations (check out www.ittexas.org.)  Will such changes take place?  I'm going to be optimistic.  I think that is why windshields are so much bigger than rearview mirrors.  We need to concentrate much more on where we are going than where we have been.


  • January 09, 2022 4:58 PM | Jennifer Winter (Administrator)

    Thoughts on TEA K-3 Mandated Reading Academy by ITT Member

    January 2022

     (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). I am a first-grade teacher and have been teaching in the same district in Texas for seven years.  My district is currently requiring all K-2 teachers and 3rd grade reading teachers to participate in the Science of Reading program, no exceptions.  This course is equivalent to an Associate Degree, which takes most people 2 years to complete.  This course was not something I chose to participate in, but instead, I was mandated to participate in.  We started in the middle of July and are expected to finish by February 2022. 

    This 60-hour course is extremely time consuming and is packed with too much information for me to consume and assimilate in the time allotted. Because of the stress caused by needing to learn so much information in a small timeframe, I’m finding that it’s difficult for me to retain much of anything to add to my classes.   The time projected by TEA for each module is always significantly lower than the time it takes me. There are pre-test, tests, post-tests, reflections, and artifacts to submit.  All need to be done on our own time, excluding the five days we've been given since we started. At this point today, our district expects us to have completed modules 1-10. We have only been given 5 days to work on this, everything else has been completed on our own time. I have even used my own personal days to stay home and work on the course. We have been told that if this course is not completed, we will lose our teaching certificate. This is extremely disheartening!! I went to college, took courses, passed my teaching certification test, have taught for almost 7 years, and not completing this course could take all that away from me.

    The last few years as a teacher have been extremely challenging and adding this course, which we have been given very little time to work on, has made this year even more stressful. This course has added a huge amount of stress and honestly has been a huge waste of time and taxpayer money.  When I think of the taxpayer money being wasted on forcing teachers to take this superfluous course, I wonder who is profiting and I’d like to follow the money trail. 

    This experience has also caused me some depression because I’m sure that taxpayer money could be better used helping students and teachers directly, based upon answers provided from teachers in a simple district survey.  I feel like this TEA mandated course helps school districts proceed with their agenda while they keep teachers buried and occupied with all the requirements for successful course completing or as I like to call it, “checking off the box”. 

    If I fail to complete this course or leave before completing it, I will be required to pay for it out of my own pocket. At this point, I am behind! I am only on module 9 and find it very hard to believe I will be able to complete it along with the other 3 modules by February. Teaching is my job, and my students are my priority.  Sadly, focusing on my students and how to best serve and teach them, may be what costs me my job.  kh


  • January 09, 2022 4:13 PM | Jennifer Winter (Administrator)

    Editorial by ITT Member regarding K-3 Reading Academy Course

    January 2022

     (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). I have been a first-grade teacher for seventeen years; all of those years I have taught in the same district in Texas. My district is requiring K-2 teachers to participate in the Science of Teaching Reading course. We started mid-July 2021 and are required to be finished in Feb. 2022; at the very latest, April 2022.



    This “60 hour” course is grueling. TEA constantly underestimates the projected timeframe for completing each module.  I often need double the amount of time TEA estimates I will need.  There are reflections to complete, pre-tests, post- tests, and artifacts to submit. If I fail to complete this course in the time allotted, TEA let me know that I will lose my certification.  I went to college and took courses and tests to earn my teaching certificates, so it makes no sense to me how this one class can strip all of that away?!

    We are expected to complete all the course modules on our own time.  We are not paid for any of the time we spend to complete the modules.  I have taken a day off work to work on the modules. If we drop out or retire early, we owe the district $450 for this class. We have had campus “work-days” which have been set aside solely for us to work on the class but MANY times there are other things/meetings from administration that take precedence over my time to work on this class, with their excuse being “Don’t worry, WE (administrators) are taking this course too.” 

    Why is the state requiring us to do this course on our own time for free? Years ago, I had to attend a 3- day Math training from TEA but I was paid for it!

    The stress level from the unrealistic expectations this year is just overwhelming, not just from this class, but from my new principal and assistant principal who have new initiatives that the teachers are required to implement.  I am planning for 6 subjects because I’m self-contained and also planning guided reading, guided math, and a daily 45 min intervention time to target struggling students.

    Needless to say, I’m behind on this course because I have decided on a few weekends to choose my family over this course. I have a husband and 3 boys who miss their wife and mom.

    Because of all of this, I’m planning to make an exit from education in May 2022.  ab

  • December 01, 2021 11:46 AM | Jennifer Winter (Administrator)

    (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). Most teachers enter our profession because they love kids and want to teach. However, far too many leave their jobs due to a lack of respect; extraneous external pressure, and general frustration. Of course, many teachers are likely to stay, even though they feel “locked in.” Yet, they yearn for greater freedom to teach and to be free from divisive government mandates.

    Innovative Teachers of Texas (ITT) applauds the Texas Legislature for passing House Bill 3979 and Gov. Greg Abbott for signing it into law. Now we urge the Legislature to stay strong and not weaken the guidelines as carefully articulated in the bill. HB 3979 holds that teachers may not be compelled to discuss particular current events or any particular issues of public policy or social affairs.

    ITT is a new organization created by teachers—to give us a “conservative” choice in professional teacher representation, in contrast with the long-tenured Texas teachers organizations. All four major Texas teacher associations testified against the bill; ITT did not.

    Just like the Texas branch of the NEA [Texas State Teachers Association] and the AFT (Texas Federation of Teachers), the other two Texas organizations, Association of Texas Professional Educators [ATPE] and Texas Classroom Teachers Association [TCTA], also effectively endorsed the teaching of the critical race theory (CRT) in Texas by opposing this critical bill. Bottom line all four major teachers organizations aligned themselves with the radical left.

    ITT believes in free speech, critical thinking, open dialogue, brainstorming, empowering teachers and students, and edifying the professionalism in education. HB 3979 bars teachers from being ordered to teach the concept that racism is systemic and embedded in our legal systems. We view its mandated teaching as an unnecessary overreach. Texans overwhelmingly oppose its teaching. And most kids today are more inclusive than ever in their view of the world they live in.

    The agenda that teaches the critical race theory unnecessarily creates schisms, sometimes even between like-minded people. Educators want the best for all. We want to keep students safe. We want to see our students prosper. When you divide teachers, mentors, and leaders in a school, it paralyzes us in our jobs to nurture children.

    Under Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the first needs are food and water, then comes shelter, and then comes love. And only after you have all of those, can you start to learn. It seems that CRT stops us in our tracks right around love, loving ourselves.

    The new law contains changes teachers will have to know about as they head back into their classrooms. ITT is a resource for teachers to fully understand HB 3979.

    Make no mistake, ITT supports teachers who want to bring current events into their classrooms. We promote free speech; we're pro-dialogue; we're pro-conversation, and we're pro-critical thinking.

    Jennifer Winter is a teacher and director of Innovative Teachers of Texas. She earned B.A. in Spanish from Western Washington University and M.A. in Educational Administration from Seattle University. She taught Spanish in public and private schools in Washington State for 11 years. She taught with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Oakland, CA for two years. www.ittexas.org

    Her email is Jennifer.winter@ittexas.org


  • December 01, 2021 11:25 AM | Jennifer Winter (Administrator)

    (To read entire post, click on three dots to the left.). There are two issues at hand when it comes to topics such as CRT.  The first relates to our inability to discern truth in an increasingly complex world.  The second relates to what action, if any, the government should take with topics such as CRT.  By far, our society’s inability to navigate toward truth is of greater concern than issues such as CRT.  This point may seem irrelevant to the topic of CRT, but it has a direct connection to our education system if we further regulate, either through state law or overbearing administrators/teachers, what can or can’t be discussed in classrooms.

    In this opinion, I will attempt to describe how I seek truth.  I will then dissect HB 3979 to the best of my ability, knowing that my understanding is limited to the degree of my experience and expertise in various areas such as state law and historical precedent.

    Discerning Truth

    Be open or be humbled:

    I am not a philosopher, nor do I pretend to be an expert statistician.  I am a son, brother, husband, father, and educator who has been repeatedly humbled and will continue to be humbled throughout the entirety of my life.   It is through this often-painful process that I have developed an openness to the world, and it is this openness that I believe is a pre-requisite for seeking out truth.

    Not everyone needs to be humbled to be open.  Some people have been blessed with this quality or developed it through other means.  Whatever the case, we need people who are open to the idea of being wrong.  Ideally, our society should be composed of citizens who are passionate in seeking out arguments which may prove their own understandings wrong, thereby bringing them that much closer to truth.  Educational institutions have great potential to instill or destroy this drive for truth in our children based on the types of decisions that are made at the federal, state, and local levels.

    In general, I am cautious to provide the government with any more regulatory power than they already have when it comes to what can or cannot be taught or discussed in the classroom.  But I am also wary of and opposed to any administrator or teacher who seeks to make statements such as “the science is settled”, “experts say”, or engages in the use of Kafka traps and other linguistic tricks to shut down conversation.

    Open minds must be a priority for our liberal society to flourish else we move toward authoritarianism.

    Understand Psychology:

    Did you know people are biased to think they are less biased than others?  Look up “bias blind spot” for reference and keep this point in mind while reading this section.

    Negative emotions grab our attention much more readily than positive ones do.  This is probably due to the fact that negative emotions correlate with things that can kill us, so evolution has selected this quality to supersede positive emotions.  Unfortunately, our press, which should act as a check on government, all too often uses our susceptibility to negativity as a way to drive ratings and make a profit.  We are all familiar with the phrase “If it bleeds it ledes” and the more modern notion of “click bait”. (spelled ‘ledes’ not “leads”)

    Social media seems to drive this tendency further, possibly because we are more likely to share negative news with others since that’s what grabs our attention the most.  There doesn’t have to be malicious intent from social media tycoons either, we are already programmed to act this way even before algorithms enter the conversation.

    Regardless of how decisions are made by our media, it is incumbent upon us to know what we are susceptible to and avoid acting that way.  It is not the responsibility of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to take ownership for our actions.  We must be educated enough to know where our own shortcomings lie.  If we cannot use social media, or the news responsibly, we are better off without them.

    Knowing that I have a negativity bias embedded in my DNA, I use spikes in my negative emotions as a trigger to pause and reflect.  When I read or see sensational news that affects my life personally, instead of letting the negative emotions drive me to action without reflection, I pause and attempt to put myself into the mind of a researcher, statistician, or scientist to make the best decision possible, using as much verified information as I can find.

    For example, there was a lot of variance in the reporting of COVID-19 early on.  Much of the news was filled with sensationalism on top of an already terrible and threatening situation.  For the safety of my family, I didn’t know if I should trust the WHO, CDC, state of Texas, or my local officials.  Ultimately, I felt I couldn’t trust any of these sources until things calmed down and systems were established.  Instead of choosing a news station to devote my fearful loyalty to, I took a step back and thought about the best way to collect enough evidence to make a decision for my family.  Eventually, I came to the realization that the prayer request list for my church not only gave me an update of how prevalent COVID was in our city, but also a demographic snapshot of who was most likely getting it.  We were able to pray for those in need while also educating ourselves on the dangers of COVID with data we could trust.

    This taught me that evidence is more valid if it is verified firsthand.  Furthermore, we can establish a trust factor relative to our spatial/temporal proximity to the data.  Spatial/temporal proximity to evidence does not mean it is valid, it just increases the likelihood that the data can be trusted.  Something that has happened nearby and recently is much more easily verified/trusted than something that happened in the distant past somewhere else on Earth.  Of course, people are fallible otherwise optical illusions wouldn’t be so much fun.  Just because we see something doesn’t mean it is true. Search “Ames Window” for a fun example of this.

    Applying these lessons to CRT, I stay wary of anyone who promotes the virtues of CRT through sensationalized or coercive means.  I am also wary of anyone who attacks CRT with similar tactics.  When possible, I read original documents related to various arguments so I can gain the perspective from the original author.  However, I am a family man, so my time is precious.  I don’t always have the time, nor do I want to spend my free time, reading the next Robin DiAngelo book or other relevant works.  To deal with this reality, I use my day-to-day experiences and look for direct impact on my friends and family.  Again, spatial/temporal proximity is key.

    Infinite Ignorance vs. An Infinite Unknown:

    How am I to know what’s right? 

    How am I to know what’s real? 

    How can anyone be certain of anything?

    And how can we make decisions about the world around us if nobody can be certain of anything?

    I can literally go mad and enter a depressed state of mind thinking about reality and truth.  Not everyone thinks about these matters but for those of us that do, we know how easy it is to get trapped in paradoxes and contradictions. 

    So far, I have not found a solution outside of a childlike faith in God to avoid the despair of having to make decisions on my own.  And I say, thank God for that.  It is through my prayer life that I feel all the elements of my understanding synthesize toward action.  This is not a rational undertaking, this is a petition to something beyond the self.  Everyone must find their method for contending with the infinite unknowns.  As for me, I choose to defer to the great I Am.

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    HB3979

    The following commentary will reference HB3979.  The link to HB3979 is provide so you may verify firsthand the contents being described.  Where necessary, I will include quotes from HB3979 and other references which may be pertinent.

    https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/HB03979F.pdf#navpanes=0

    Subsection h-2 should dispel any concerns that Republicans are attempting to downplay white supremacy, slavery, or the ugly history of America.  Most of the ideas referenced in this section were already available in state standards through the TEKS.  Now they are part of law.  The most I can really say of this section is that it is redundant and maybe cynical to think Texans wouldn’t cover such topics without them being written into law, it is definitely not an avoidance of the history of slavery or other tough topics.

    If media sources are making claims that Republicans are trying to whitewash history without referencing the source documents, I’d email/message them to provide their evidence directly.

    Here’s a portion of a subsection h-2 for reference of what should be included in the state standards:

    Here are some current standards educators reference for instruction:

    8th grade TEKS for reference:  https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=113&rl=20

    High school U.S. History TEKS for reference: https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=2&ch=113&rl=41

    Subsection h-3 gets into what an educator/administrator can or cannot do.  I am going to reference more directly here as I discuss my personal interpretation and critique.

    If I was an administrator, I would hope my teachers had the courage to discuss these issues.  How are students supposed to learn how to deal with these issues otherwise?  Are they supposed to just know how to deal with them upon receiving their diploma?  Also, what better way to learn how to contend with our own biases than to use current events that are emotionally difficult?  I know most administrators (and politicians) don’t want to deal with angry parents (or constituents), but our educational institutions should hold a standard of open dialogue for these topics.

    It is not wrong to compel teachers to talk about current events, even controversial issues.  In fact, I think this is a standard component of a well-rounded civics education.  Subsection h-2 listed out all the topics educators are compelled to teach so if we have a problem with compelled teaching, we need to take out subsection h-2.  Remember, this is a taxpayer paid position, not a private affair.

    It is wrong to compel teachers or students to pick a side, especially if the issue is ongoing and currently being debated.  Nobody should have an issue denigrating Nazi’s, that’s not a modern issue and we’ve seen the historical tragedies associated with such evil ideas.  Issues such as systemic racism or COVID policy are another matter.  I wish the law would compel educators (or at least encourage educators) to engage in dialogue with their students about current events while making it illegal to compel educators to pick a side.

    I would hope a teacher would practice Socratic dialogues and maintain a position of openness, but I also understand that many current events are emotionally sensitive for teachers as well.  Teachers who fall short of an unbiased ideal should be dealt with by administrators, not the state.  Our system must have grace built into it otherwise we risk avoiding novel ideas and constructive conversations.

    Still, I understand the fear of ideologies going unchallenged if it’s not put into law.  It’s hard for administrators or educators to oppose an ideologically driven teacher without leaving themselves open to character attacks.  I think the lawmakers here felt the need to insulate against these attacks by writing “openness” into law.  It would at least encourage an ideologically driven teacher to think twice before indoctrinating their students.

    This part of the law really gave me pause.  Last year, my students chose a passion topic and wrote letters petitioning their local, state, or federal representatives for change.  It was ultimately up to them whether they mailed the letters or not but as an educator, I shouldn’t have to worry about my students wanting to engage civically for fear of breaking a law.  Furthermore, we should all want students to engage with representatives and see how the inner workings of government operate firsthand.  Why not make this part of the course?  If we have a culture of open mindedness and healthy skepticism this isn’t a problem.  If we have a culture of cowardice and fear, then we will keep our students from these opportunities any way we can because we are “fearful” our enemies will turn them against us.  I get it, there are people out there with poor intentions and they will manipulate whoever they can to gain an advantage.  Keeping our children locked away until they are 18 doesn’t prepare them for these dangers though, it cripples them.

    First, we should all celebrate any law that limits the number of trainings educators need to do.  We all know compliance trainings are the worst. 

    Secondly, skin-color privilege and genitalia-based privilege might exist, or they might not.  Honestly, it depends on the individual and their circumstances.  Not all who are a specific skin-color have or live a privileged life.  Not all who have specific genitalia are or live a privileged life.  Why have we shifted to treating people as groups instead of individuals?  I believe we are being bated into division by those who seek to profit from the tension.  The fact that we now need a law, following the civil rights movement of the 60’s to readdress these issues is astonishing. 

    It’s not complicated folks, don’t discriminate based on race/sex.  Treat people as individuals, not groups.  I’m glad we are banning such toxic “trainings”.

    The lawmakers are just going in for the kill now by making sure everyone understands that collective guilt is reprehensible.  Again, judge an individual by their actions, not the group they are a part of.

    The only place where the law starts to get dicey is from (ix) to (C).  As it relates to history, let’s allow room for deviations from our own understanding to emerge and shed new light on topics.  This is not to excuse any poor historical work that may be found in projects such as “The 1619 Project.”  To be transparent, I’m not an expert on “The 1619 project” so I don’t know if it is valid or not.  Regardless, I do know that what we try to hide from our children, they will seek out and explore on their own. 

    Do we want our students to explore these topics where they can be guided by proper questioning, or do we want YouTube and Tik-Tok to expose them to these ideas regardless of their accuracy?  I caution any lawmaker who prohibits various ideas from classroom dialogue.  There are consequences here beyond the immediate. 

    Also, don’t be surprised if the tables turn when power dynamics change in government.  Who knows what could get put into law if we use such tactics to guide our children’s education.

    Subsection h-4 is straightforward as it is the financial mechanism associated topics discussed in h-3.

    Subsection h-5 is fascinating as I believe this law has a chilling effect on classroom dialogues.  Which administrator is going to encourage their teachers to take risks discussing current events with their students?  I’d be curious to see what a survey of district lawyers would recommend to administrators.

    The rest of HB3979 is non-classroom related and deals with the technical administration of the text.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Conclusion

    Most of the harm I see surrounding CRT comes from the mania found only on the internet.  I admit I am lucky to teach in a school which has not had to deal directly with this issue though I know many educators, and students have taken clear stances both for and against CRT.

    There are plenty of sections in HB3979 that I agree with but there are sections which seemingly restrict dialogue, specifically around current events.  This is not good.  Our society already does a poor job of having constructive conversations.  This law creates a chilling effect which discourages teachers to take risks in the classroom surrounding tough topics.  Why take a risk if you might be breaking the law?  Why deal with the headache of someone accusing you of breaking the law?

    This law should have been written to encourage dialogue around current events.  We should be encouraging educators to train our students to seek out the strongest argument possible against their belief systems.  We should be providing opportunities for students to step into challenging environments to learn how to contend with the realities of politics and governance.

    I don’t know what was on the hearts of the lawmakers when this was written but it feels as if this law was written out of fear and has suffered because of it.  Rarely does good leadership manifest out of fear.  Lawmakers need to check their negativity bias, go spend some time in the many beautiful Texas state parks, and pray for a better solution.

    ~Michael Szabo


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