EducationIssuesStatewide NewsInvestigation into Texas School Districts Reveals Educators ‘Get Around’ Critical Race Theory Ban

A new investigation reveals widespread use of critical race theory and related ideas in Texas school districts.
February 20, 2023
An undercover investigation has produced videos that show multiple Texas educators admitting to avoiding the legislature’s critical race theory (CRT) ban in public education, passed in 2021.

Accuracy in Media (AIM) conducted this investigation into multiple schools around Texas to understand how this CRT legislation, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, is being handled by educators. 

An AIM investigator asked Evan Whitefield, director of science at Coppell Independent School District (ISD), about if the CRT bans will have any effect.

“I don’t think so,” said Whitefield. “The bottom line is, we’ve gotten around it by saying, ‘Well, we’re just not teaching that.’”

The Coppell ISD science department has links to “Phenomenon-based learning” that states this teaching style “has its roots in constructivist learning theory and socio-constructivist learning theory, as well as sociocultural learning theory.”

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In 2021, a ban on teaching critical race theory was signed by Abbott. It also produced multiple follow-up bills seeking to clarify the curriculum and training of educators.

AIM investigators asked Tara Nichols, director of Teaching and Learning at Mesquite ISD, if these laws really change anything.

“It really doesn’t,” she said.

Mesquite ISD utilizes an “equitable” model of education that provides resource links for teachers to books like “So You Want to Talk About Race” and “Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain.

“Culturally responsive teaching” training has come under investigation before and has been described as “a more-or-less direct repackaging” of the ideas of a “neo-Marxist” educational theory.

When asked about Abbott’s ban, Jennifer Gutierrez, director of elementary curriculum at North East ISD San Antonio, said that “we go back to our TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills] and if it’s in our TEKS we have to teach it.”

The North East ISD provides eighth-grade U.S. history curriculum and instruction plans for teachers that link to video podcast essays on history, including one from The New York Times 1619 Project titled “The Economy That Slavery Built.”

“I think we just fly under the radar,” said Brad Cloud, director of instructional technology at South San Antonio ISD. 

Parents and state officials have been in support of Abbott’s measures on banning critical race theory in schools.

AIM asked if there has been any pushback from parents about critical race theory still being in the schools.

“There are a few but they don’t win the argument. Nobody wants to go through that process. What they like to do is talk about it on TV to get votes,” said Millie Reynolds, North East ISD’s assistant director of Secondary Social Studies.

Investigators also asked Marissa Perez, the English Language Arts and Reading Content Coordinator at Edgewood ISD, how the CRT bans have affected classrooms.

“We do not follow much of what Abbott is trying to get us to do.” 

“The superintendent really does what he believes is best for kids and not necessarily what is popular with the crowd, right? Or politics at the time,” said Perez.

Perez and Edgewood ISD provide sources for their curriculum and learning for teachers to develop in classroom lessons. 

To celebrate Black History Month, Edgewood ISD has links to the National Education Association that points readers to Teaching Hard History for grades K-5.

Teaching Hard History is a framework developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center for elementary educators. This framework instructs teachers to use history class to “learn about activism and action civics” and relate how “children living in slavery or the cultural practices of enslaved people to find similarities with their own [students] experiences.”

“I don’t feel like we’ve knocked anything out that we’ve already done. Like, we haven’t banned any books or haven’t done anything yet,” said Wendy Dutton, human resources director at McKinney ISD.

Texas has made steps towards school choice, which have been echoed by the governor in recent weeks and has shown support among the public.


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Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.