With efforts in Washington, Idaho, and New Hampshire to restrict the ways teachers educate students about topics of systemic racism in history classes, House Bill 564 by state Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette, in the Louisiana House is not a surprise. While the bill has since been voluntarily deferred by its author, the rhetoric surrounding this piece of legislation is dangerous. The bill embraces the idea that — somehow — teachers are independently “indoctrinating” our state’s youth.
In fact, the state’s history curriculum is already rigorously regulated (micro-managed to a certain extent) by the Louisiana Department of Education in its “Student Standards for Social Studies.” Supporters of bills like HB564 have created a problem that simply does not exist. Where is the data supporting the claim that teachers are pushing the idea that “one race is inherently superior to another”? Supporters of HB564 simply have not proven that the “problem” they aim to fix even exists.
Bills like that introduced by Garofalo push the narrative of American exceptionalism. By sweeping systemic racism and sexism under the rug of history, our education system would fail to inform an entire generation of people about the faults of our nation’s past and present. The first step in fixing problems is to recognize them.
Another threat from bills like HB564 is the idea of a “slippery slope.” Garofalo’s bill starts by stating something that is fair: “one race or sex is [not] inherently superior or inferior to another race or sex.” Then, the bill goes on to assert a more questionable (if not blatantly false) claim: “the United States of America or the state of Louisiana is [not] fundamentally, institutionally, or systemically racist or sexist.” Those two ideas cannot be placed on the same playing field.
The time has come to reject partisan intervention in our education systems.