RICHMOND—Upholding campaign promises, elected Republicans in Richmond are working to outlaw from public schools concepts deemed divisive, including critical race theory, leaving educators in Southwest Virginia perplexed as they continue weathering complaints from a misled public.
For his first act after inauguration a week ago, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order to “end the use of inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory,” in K-12 public education.
And in one of his first bills introduced to the Virginia House of Delegates, Del. Wren Williams, R-Patrick, goes a step further with House Bill 781, which proposes criminalizing the teaching of concepts deemed divisive. Williams’ bill would make it a class-four misdemeanor, on par with public intoxication, for teachers to instruct ideas like critical race theory, often abbreviated as CRT.
The bill was introduced to curtail “rogue teachers” in public education, Williams said during a phone call Monday. As an example of critical race theory in his district, Williams said diversity and equity training and other resources have been given to teachers.
“There’s no real wordplay here. We’re aiming at the roots of CRT and we’re trying to oust it from our public education system,” Williams said. “This is meant to root out activists from our public education system, and criminalize them if they do not abide by the curriculum that we have implemented, in order to protect our kids.”
But the bill would not stop at critical race theory, said Williams, who is a lawyer. The phrase “divisive concept” could criminalize the instruction of other controversial, disputed or disagreeable ideas.
“This would apply to anti-Semitic teachings. It would apply to anti-Islam teachings, anti-Buddha teachings, all kinds of divisive concepts,” Williams said. “The goal is to pres
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