House Education panel passes bill essentially banning ‘critical race theory’

By: - September 28, 2021 10:50 am

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

Republicans on the House Education Committee advanced on Tuesday a bill that would prohibit schools from including “any form of race or gender stereotyping” in their curriculums. 

House Bill 5097, introduced by state Rep. Andrew Beeler (R-Ft. Gratiot), follows a nationwide right-wing trend to ban “critical race theory” but does not mention CRT explicitly. 

Beeler last week denied that the bill would prevent schools from teaching about slavery in a historically accurate way, arguing it would enhance those teachings by prohibiting the use of “broad strokes” when learning about history.

The bill passed along party lines without discussion from committee members. 

“With Michigan’s education system in crisis, we should be focusing on legislation that would better support our schools, educators, and students,” state Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.), a former teacher who voted against the bill, said in a statement. “Instead, this bill does the opposite — not only does it seek to further legitimize the bogus claim that schools are teaching critical race theory, it would create a chilling effect on free speech and the appropriate discussion of our nation’s complex racial history.”

The Michigan Education Justice Coalition, an education advocacy group, said the bill would have a “chilling effect on educators who are tasked with teaching the truth and preparing students for the world as it is while making some students feel unwelcome in their own school.”

Last week, the House Education Committee held a hearing on HB 5097 where education advocates urged the committee to not support the bill. 

Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee Chair Lana Theis (R-Brighton) introduced a similar bill in May, but it has not been taken up by the committee yet. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.