LANSING, Mich. —
A group of Republican state senators has introduced a bill that would penalize Michigan schools that teach critical race theory.
“The onset of these bills to limit the ways in which educators talk about racism in schools is really out of fear that somehow the American narrative is getting distorted,” said Dorinda Carter Andrews, chair of Michigan State University’s Department of Teacher Education. “What many of us in society realize is that the American narrative needs to be told from a variety of perspectives and not just the eurocentric perspective.”
Critical race theory is an analytical lens used primarily at colleges and universities to examine racism at an institutional and structural level.
The proposed legislation would withhold 5 percent of state funding from K-12 schools that teach what the senators who introduced it consider “anti-American” concepts about race.
Material from the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which reframes the national narrative by putting Black history at the center, would also violate the rules set out in the bill.
FOX 47 News reached out to each senator co-sponsoring the bill, but did not get a response from any of them.
“If we allow our future leaders to be exposed to the truth, this generation can embark on a journey that many of us did not have the opportunity to because of racism,” said Tanesha Ash-Shakoor, whose son is a student in the Holt Public School district. “To give them that knowledge is powerful and this is just a tactic to eliminate the power before it begins.”
Ash-Shakoor says integrating critical race theory into the curriculum is necessary for young people of color to make sense of the world around them.
“They see the hurt in their parents. They see the hurt in their grandparents, yet they don’t understand, so when they see a parent or a grandparent so upset about what’s going on in today’s time, they have nothing to relate it back to except for the lies that they’ve been told,” she said. “They don’t understand the magnitude because they haven’t been given the truth. They’ve only been taught the narrative.”
Lana Theis, the Brighton Republican who introduced the bill, says critical race theory aims to “reject our country’s true history,” according to a statement on her website.
Carter Andrews, who has studied the link between critical race consciousness and Black students' success in school, says there’s a key component of critical race theory that people who oppose it are failing to recognize.
“I think this backlash from teaching young people about racism is really coming out of fear that somehow there’s an attack on white people when in reality, there’s an attack and rightly so on white supremacy,” said Carter Andrews.
A committee hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.