State Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, announced last week that she would be preparing a bill that would ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in all Kansas schools. It's worth noting that Critical Race Theory isn't now and never has been taught in the state's public schools, unfortunately. It's just that CRT has become the latest Republican racist dog whistle in America's white belt.
Tyson's bill will likely succeed given that the GOP still dominates state politics as it has since Kansas became a state back in 1861. Back then, of course, the Republican Party in Kansas was quite different, embracing "free state" politics and opposing slavery. My, how things have changed.
For today's Kansas, this is just another brick in the wall, a continuation of the state's legacy of school segregation and an imposed right-wing/religious curriculum on its schools.
It wasn't for nothing that the 1954 landmark court decision supposedly outlawing school segregation was called: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
Carrying on the tradition...in 1999 the Kansas Board of Education voted to delete virtually any mention of evolution from the state's science curriculum, in one of the most far-reaching efforts by right-wing creationists to supplant science teaching with religious doctrine.
The Topeka Capital-Journal editorialized at the time that ''creationism is as good a hypothesis as any for how the universe began.''
And on it goes.
The new curriculum battlefield stretches far beyond Kansas and beyond K-12 education. Today, in North Carolina, UNC’s board of trustees is scheduled to hold a special meeting amid intensifying pressure over its failure to approve tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for The New York Times Magazine.
Professor Hannah-Jones created the 1619 Project, a multimedia series from The Times Magazine that re-examined the legacy of slavery in the United States and provided educators with the tools they needed to do authentic teaching about race and racism. The use of the 1619 Project by teachers in school districts across the country prompted the right-wing backlash that we're seeing in states like Kansas.
She has gained the public support of more than 200 academics and other cultural figures who published a letter last month saying the board had displayed a “failure of courage.”
On Friday, UNC students held a protest in support of tenure for Hannah-Jones. Hopefully, their voices will be heard.