LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan Senate committee debated a Republican-backed bill Tuesday that would ban critical race theory, despite no evidence that the theory is currently being taught in Michigan classrooms.
“I introduced this legislation because I'm concerned with the extraordinarily harmful impacts that I believe this discriminatory philosophy puts on our children,” said Sen. Lana Theis, who introduced that bill that ban teachers from teaching critical race theory or the 1619 project.
The theory, according to the Associated Press, centers around the idea that racism is systemic in America and that the nation’s institutions function to maintain the dominance of white people in society.
Over the last several months the concept has gained the ire of Republicans and grassroots right-wing activists, who call it Marxist and anti-American.
More than two dozen states have introduced similar legislation to the Michigan senate bill that was debated Tuesday.
“Instead of forcing our students to accept a divisive identity-based ideology, Michigan schools should foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of thought, inquiry and instruction and freedom of speech and association. Our schools should be teaching our students the actual history within the context of the time,” Theis said in support of the bill.
Democrats, meanwhile, slammed the proposal and the provision that which would take 5% of funding away from districts who violate it.
“I see this bill as an effort to censor, threaten and scare teachers from teaching about racism, and to minimize or even erase the history and lived experience of marginalized communities,” said Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, a former teacher.
The bill was debated for nearly two hours, as some teachers and conservative activists voiced their support, while others, like Michigan State Board of Education Vice President Pamela Pugh called it a solution in search of a problem.
“I am here today to oppose the use of state resources to hunt down school districts and take funding from school children learning truth about the effects of slavery, the contributions of African-Americans, Black Americans, our true history,” Pugh said.
In the end, no action was taken on this bill yet, but last week a similar bill passed committee in the Repulican-led House and could see a vote soon.