Michigan education groups oppose ‘extreme and exaggerated’ anti-CRT bills

Detroit Public Schools Community District students and teacher at Ronald Brown Academy | Ken Coleman photo

By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance

A coalition of education groups made up of history educators joined together in opposition of two state bills that they say “misconstrue Critical Race Theory (CRT).”

The Michigan Council for the Social Studies, the Michigan Council for History Education, Michigan Council for Teachers of English, Michigan State Social Studies Supervisors Association, and the Michigan Association of College Teacher Educators wrote in a statement this week that Senate Bill 460 and House Bill 5097 “threaten local control of educational curriculum and limit teachers’ rights to academic freedom.”

SB 460 explicitly bans CRT from being taught in schools and threatens to cut 5% of a school’s funding if the state determines that it is violating the law. HB 5097 does not explicitly name CRT in the bill, but would prohibit schools from teaching any curriculum that includes the “promotion of any form of race or gender stereotyping or anything that could be understood as implicit race or gender stereotyping.”

CRT is a college-level theory that examines the systemic effects of white supremacy in America and is not taught in Michigan K-12 schools.

“The purpose of education, and social studies education in particular, is to promote the knowledge, skills, intellectual processes, and dispositions required of people to be actively engaged in fulfilling their responsibility of civic participation,” the education groups wrote. “As members of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world, young people need to learn how to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good.”

The coalition wrote that the language in SB 460 is “unnecessarily extreme and exaggerated.”

“Educators do not teach that the United States is ‘a racist country’ or that founding documents are ‘fundamentally racist.’ Instead, they are honest about the systemic racism that has been a part of our past and present,” the groups wrote.

The House passed HB 5097 on Nov. 2 after Democrats refused to vote on the bill. The Senate has not yet voted on SB 460; the Senate Education Committee passed it at the end of October.