EducationStatewide NewsTensions Ease Between Conservatives and Republican Women’s Group Over Critical Race Theory Support

A brewing conflict among political activists on the right over critical race theory legislation seems to have eased for now.
July 15, 2021
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Tensions have eased after Texas conservatives raised concerns about how a prominent Republican group, purportedly on the same side of the critical race theory battle, had positioned itself on recent Texas legislative proposals.

For example, Grassroots America — We the People Executive Director JoAnn Fleming sent an alert to members earlier this week alleging that the Texas Federation of Republican Women (TFRW) was supporting critical race theory through its support of iCivics as a program amendment to proposed legislation.

Glynis Chester, president of TFRW, said in a press statement on July 13 that “TFRW does NOT support Critical Race Theory (CRT)”  and that “TFRW has NOTHING to do with iCivics or any curriculum provider.”

iCivics is a curriculum provider that claims to “inspire life-long civic engagement by providing high quality and engaging civics resources.” Its executive director, Louise Dube, stated in an interview that iCivics “made a commitment to pointing out institutional systemic racism in teaching about our institutions. This will alienate some, but it is the moral imperative of today.”

It is supported by such left-leaning foundations as the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, whose website says it is ”Making Racial Justice Real in California.” Additionally, CivXNow, a project of iCivics, has produced a white paper titled “Equity in Civic Education.” 

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In answer to an inquiry by Wise County Conservatives co-founder Andy Hopper, Robbi Hull, TFRW’s vice-president of legislation, said, “Just because some writer accuses iCivics of providing CRT curriculum doesn’t make it so. The iCivics Board Chair has represented to me and others that iCivics curriculum does not teach, promote, endorse or support CRT or Project 1619.”

She also claimed that “TFRW’s only connection to iCivics is its participation on a legislative task force that included a number of conservative members including the Board Chair of iCivics, a Republican woman that lives in Texas. iCivics does not equate to civic education.”

Wendy May-Dreyer is the iCivics board chair. She also co-founded the Texas Civic Education Coalition, which opposed bills like House Bill 3979, intended to ban critical race theory in public school classrooms, during the regular session. 

In a statement during the regular legislative session, May-Dreyer said, “They strip teachers of needed training and quash their ability to teach current events and necessary 21st-century skills like media literacy. And worse, these bills prevent students from ‘social and public policy’ projects such as community garden building, clothing and food drives.”

In response to TFRW’s press statement confirming its opposition to CRT, Fleming sent another message to members stating that “we believe that TFRW believes that it is fighting to end CRT ‘indoctrination’ in the schools in all subjects,” adding that she believes “TFRW is missing some information” and offering to bring together the parties to clarify everyone’s understanding.

Jill Glover, the State Republican Executive committeewoman for Senate District 12 told The Texan that she has “some concern that TFRW may not be aware of the more subtle ways CRT can be included in the curriculum. We believe TFRW’s intentions are correct, but they are mistaken in their understanding. We hope they will take up the offer to meet with experts to explain the issues.”

When calling the special session that began on July 8, Republican Governor Greg Abbott added “Legislation similar to House Bill 3979 concerning critical race theory as originally passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session.”

Two bills have been introduced during the special session, Senate Bill (SB) 3 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) relating to the social studies curriculum in Texas and House Bill (HB) 178 by Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands).

Neither bill makes an explicit mention of banning critical race theory, but SB 3 states that a school district or teacher may not “require, or make part of a course, concepts that serve to inculcate…the concept that one race or sex is superior to another race or sex…or an individual, by virtue of the individual ’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.” HB 178 has similar language.

Critics of critical race theory believe its application forces individuals to bear responsibility for collective wrongdoing of the past. For example, parents claim one North Carolina middle school had children stand up in class and apologize to other students for their privilege. Another school in New York sorted elementary school children by race.

While not widely reported in Texas, these publicized instances have fed fears about the influence of critical race theory in K-12 education in the state.

SB 3 had a public hearing in the State Affairs Committee on July 15, but no HB 178 has seen no action because the Democrat walkout has prevented the House from conducting business for lack of a quorum.

Isaiah Mitchell contributed to this report. 

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.