Missouri Shuts Down Current Debate Over Critical Race Theory

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Missouri lawmakers plan to hold a meeting Monday to “hear guest testimony regarding critical race theory and Project 1619,” according to to a posted notice by the Joint Education Committee of the Legislature.

Perhaps you would like to share your thoughts on this topic with the group? Pity.

“No opportunity will be offered for public testimony,” the publication said. Written testimony may be submitted, but “only persons or organizations testifying in person will be recorded in the minutes of the committee.” Oh.

The guest list won’t be available until Monday, but we can guess where that is going. In May, State Senator Cindy O’Laughlin – the committee chair – asked Governor Mike Parson to hold a special session to “prevent or restrict” the teaching of critical race theory, which she called it “divisive and unnecessary”.

The hearing is therefore a political masquerade. The leadership of the committee has no interest in understanding how American history is actually taught in Missouri, or how it should be taught, or how students should learn the full history of their state and country.

Which negates culture at its best.

“Public hearing testimony should be open to all members of the public, not just an elite set of guests,” the state official said. Ingrid Burnett from Kansas City, Democrat and member of the hearing committee.

“Failure to include written statements in the dossier only creates suspicion of censorship and a violation of freedom of expression,” she said. Burnett plans to attend the session.

Teaching critical race theory is the target of right-wing rage in Missouri today, as readers know. It doesn’t matter how lacking in evidence someone is teaching it, or that critics even know what it is.

But there is political mileage to exploiting fear, and Republicans in the legislature intend to exploit it.

State Senator Lauren Arthur, another Democrat from Kansas City, will attend the hearing, reluctantly. “I want the legislator to focus on the real issues facing our state rather than the cultural war controversies fabricated by the conservative media,” she told us in an email.

We hope so too. Sadly, the Missourians need to be careful, as the racial theory critical wrestling match begins to do real damage in the state.

Parents in the Rockwood School District near St. Louis fought diversity and inclusion in their schools’ curriculum for over a year, attracting national attention. Columbia Public Schools are trying to figure it out. The school board in Jefferson City put CRT under the microscope.

Missouri State Senator Mike Moon and more than 60 of his fellow parliamentarians want Parson to ban the teaching of critical race theory by bypassing lawmakers and issuing an executive order. As long as we whitewash American history, it seems, we might as well reject representative government.

We said Missouri shouldn’t censor the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, or ban any true teaching about race. We also said that students should hear some good faith reviews of the series and the theory, so that they can make up their own minds. All voices must be heard.

This is, of course, the exact opposite of what the Missouri Legislative Assembly’s Joint Committee on Education has in mind for Monday.

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