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Limits on money for critical race theory curricula? House Dems just say no

Utah congressman’s Say No to Indoctrination Act fails to get to floor in Congress

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Owen’s bill to prevent the use of federal funds to advance what he described as “discriminatory” concepts informed by critical race theory died quickly in the House.
Bill Clark, Associated Press

A conservative Utah congressman’s bill to prevent the use of federal funds to advance what he described as “discriminatory” concepts informed by critical race theory died quickly in the House.

Republican Rep. Burgess Owens unsuccessfully tried to force an immediate vote Tuesday on his Say No to Indoctrination Act. But the Democrat-controlled House blocked the measure from reaching the floor for debate or a vote.

Racism exists, he said, during a speech on the House floor. He said he has no tolerance for bigotry and hate, and more can be done to create a world that teaches greater tolerance and respects the dignity of everyone regardless of race, color or creed.

“(Critical race theory) is not the solution. It is absolutely wrong and un-American to indoctrinate our children into believing that because of their skin color, they are forever part of an oppressed or oppressive class. Hate has no place in our schools and CRT has no place in our classes,” Owens said.

Owens’ bill was a nonstarter for Democrats.

“We are not going to debate on whether racism exists in America, because it does. And we are not going to debate whether we should teach our kids racism is wrong, we should,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “We’re not going to debate whether individual states and schools can decide what their kids learn, they can.

“And we’re sure as hell not going to be lectured about racism by the party that is trying to dismantle the Voting Rights Act that Martin Luther King and John Lewis paid for with their blood.”

Owens said his bill would keep taxpayer dollars from funding “discriminatory practices and divisive world views.”

As he often does, Owens said he grew up in the deep South during the days of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws and segregation. He said he felt the pain of racism and experienced firsthand when people treat others unjustly because of the color of their skin, and that it still happens today.

Schoolchildren, he said, should learn about slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth, Jim Crow, the Tulsa Massacre and the Civil Rights Act along with other significant events in American history.

“Critical race theory, however, teaches students that America is irredeemably racist and intrinsic characteristics like race, color, and national origin define you,” he said.

Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

Owens has called for the firing of educators who teach critical race theory in schools. He introduced legislation in May that would restrict its teaching in federal institutions and that points out the dangers of teaching it in schools.