A Nebraska state senator wants to ban critical race theory (CRT) in public schools and offer parents a way to review and remove books from school libraries.
State Sen. Dave Murman, new chairman of the unicameral Nebraska Legislature Education Committee, introduced his Parents Bill of Rights and Academic Transparency Act (LB-374) on Thursday.
He said the legislation addresses the concerns of parents, KETV reported.
"They don't want to inappropriate sexual material taught to their children. They don't want racism taught to their children," Murman said. "Material saying that If you have a certain color of skin, you're a racist and responsible for things that have happened in the past."
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist.
School board meetings in various states, including Nebraska, have included upset parents expressing anger about CRT being taught in schools.
Murman's bill is similar to laws passed in Kansas, Missouri, and Florida. The lawmaker said the legislation is designed to make it more clear what is being taught.
"It's not book burning or book banning," Murman said, KETV reported. "It's to protect the children from inappropriate material."
The legislation requires school districts to allow parents to inspect learning materials and library books. It also provides a process to have that book or material removed or allow a student to opt-out of that lesson without penalty.
"We are extremely excited about this bill," said Allie French. a mother of two and the founder of Nebraskans Against Government Overreach, KETV reported.
"Lots of checks and balances, lots of ability for both the citizens, the parents to be involved, and those who are working in this area and working with our children on a day to day basis have the ability to make those decisions and not be punished for them and have that level of accountability."
The bill's opponents say it would hamstring educators.
"What is CRT? Who gets to define CRT? Should we be teaching something like Wounded Knee?" said retired University of Nebraska journalism professor Joe Starita, citing the site where nearly 300 Lakota Sioux, many women and children, were massacred by U.S. soldiers in 1890.
"This is just another overreach on the part of the government."
Nebraska State Education Association President Jenni Benson said her organization will review how this bill would affect students, teachers, parents, and classrooms.
"I believe it is critically important that we work together to address concerns through communication versus accusations," Benson said, KETV reported. "This should not be about attacking our teachers, our students, our families, and public schools."
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