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In Texas, Panic Over Critical Race Theory Extends to Bookshelves

A curriculum official went so far as to suggest teachers should seek “opposing” perspectives if students read a book on the Holocaust, according to a recording acquired by NBC News. The superintendent apologized. “We recognize,” he stated, “there are not two sides to the Holocaust.”

Sheri Mills, a Southlake school trustee, heard herself denounced as a Marxist and heckled at her teenage daughter’s athletic events.

“A lot of our teachers are petrified,” Ms. Mills said. “The really good teachers, if they are near retirement, they are leaving.”

In Alief, a diverse district on the western edge of Houston, three English teachers at Kerr High School sat together and spoke of this uncertain world.

Safraz Ali, who spent his early boyhood in Guyana and had taught for 17 years, said he had grown weary of the uncertainty. He called the state education department and asked officials to define critical race theory. He received no answer.

“It’s like you’re walking into a dark room,” he said.

The teachers pointed in particular to the clause that says a teacher must not inculcate the idea that students should feel “responsibility, blame or guilt” because of their race or sex. Mr. Krause, the state representative, had gone a step further, suggesting that a teacher might overstep simply by assigning a book that troubles a student.

These teachers all but slapped foreheads in frustration. To teach Shakespeare and Toni Morrison, to read Gabriel García Márquez or Frederick Douglass, is to elicit swells of emotions, they said, out of which can arise introspection and self-recognition, sorrow and joy. The challenge is no different for a social studies teacher talking of Cherokee dying along the Trail of Tears or white gangs lynching Black and Mexican people.

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