After being set on the schedule at the last minute, then deleted, then added back in, HB 3979 passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee Monday afternoon.

Educators have been keeping an eye on HB 3979 because of unusual provisions that are both prescriptive and broad. The bill has been described as banning “critical race theory” in schools, but it prohibits districts from requiring teachers to teach current events of any type. It also disallows making any type of civic advocacy (such as writing a letter to a legislator) part of a course or eligible for extra credit, among other provisions.

As we have noted previously, while TCTA members have not taken a formal position on this topic, we are concerned that the prohibitions are vague and could form the basis of parent complaints or ethics charges against teachers for simply teaching issues related to the TEKS of a course.

The next step for HB 3979 is consideration on the Senate floor. However, the Senate committee made several changes to the House version of the bill, removing many House provisions relating to instruction in historical events involving people of color. If the bill passes the Senate in that form, and the House chooses not to accept the Senate version, the bill will be sent to a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions.