Critical race theory bans threaten free speech, advocacy group says

Governments and school boards have wide latitude in setting the curriculum in public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12, where the cou...


Governments and school boards have wide latitude in setting the curriculum in public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12, where the courts have jurisdiction. generally held that teachers do not have the same degree of academic freedom as those in universities. But many of these bills, PEN argues, are worded so vaguely that they can chill a wide range of rhetoric.

“This overbreadth and ambiguity is why they are so alarming,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of freedom of expression and education at PEN. “The truth is, most administrators and legal advisers will quickly say, ‘let’s not run into this’. “

Erwin Chemerinsky, a First Amendment expert and dean of the University of California, Berkeley Law School, who previewed the report, agreed. “Whenever the government regulates speech, it needs to be clear about what is prohibited and what is allowed,” he said. “These laws are so vague in their wording that a teacher cannot tell.”

According to PEN, nine bills specifically target critical race theory. Eleven bills explicitly prohibit courses based on Project 1619, a New York Times Magazine initiative exploring the history and continuing legacy of slavery that has been adapted into a class program.

So far, according to the PEN tally, 11 bills have become law, in nine states, sometimes within days of their introduction. Another 18 are awaiting the 2021 legislative session, and six more have already been drafted for consideration for 2022.

Many bills, according to PEN, include language that purports to affirm freedom of speech and thought. Ten bills prohibit schools or teachers from “forcing” a person to assert belief in a “concept of division”, while eight impose “balanced” teaching of “controversial” subjects. (In Texas, such a law recently led a school official last month to suggest that educators who teach about the Holocaust should make sure they have books that offer “opposing views.)

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Newsrust - US Top News: Critical race theory bans threaten free speech, advocacy group says
Critical race theory bans threaten free speech, advocacy group says
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