Mississippi Governor Signs Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory in Schools

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on March 14 signed into law Senate Bill 2113, which prohibits critical race theory (CRT) ideologies in publicly funded schools.

The bill specifically states that no publicly funded school “shall direct or compel students to affirm that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin is inherently superior, or that individuals should be adversely treated based on such characteristics.”

“Now, I can almost guarantee what will happen next,” said Reeves, a Republican, in a video statement. “First, critical race theory proponents will claim that this law prevents the teaching of history.”

There will be the claim that, because of the bill, students won’t learn about black historical events such as slavery or the civil rights movement, he said.

“But we know the truth,” Reeves said. “Contrary to what some critics claim, this bill in no way, in no shape, and in no form prohibits the teaching of history. Any claim that this bill will somehow stop Mississippi kids from learning about American history is just flat-out wrong.”

Reeves said all elements of history—both good and bad—should be taught in schools.

The “radical left and the media” have spread misinformation about CRT, Reeves said.

“Across the country, we’re seeing a full-court press by a vocal minority of well-organized and well-funded activists who seek to tear down the unity that has helped make our country great,” Reeves said. “Students are being force-fed an unhealthy dose of progressive fundamentalism that runs counter to the principles of America’s founding.”

Children are being subjected to classroom exercises that require them to declare themselves either oppressors or oppressed based on the color of their skin, he said.

“That’s why today, Mississippi is taking another step toward ensuring our kids receive the unbiased and impartial education they need to reach their full potential as individuals, not as liberal operatives,” Reeves said.

‘A New Variant of Marxism’

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP), a free-market advocacy nonprofit, published a report on CRT in October 2021 that presents a case for banning CRT in schools (pdf). It points to public universities in the state, such as Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi, that have adopted language evocative of CRT indoctrination. “White silence,” “white privilege,” “white violence,” “systematic racism,” and “equity” are among the signal words used to uphold CRT theories. Though it sounds like equality, equity necessitates treating people differently, and it has become a core requirement in schools, the report states.

According to the report, CRT argues that the U.S. Constitution, the legal system, and other American institutions are inherently racist. Unequal outcomes are reflections of racism, while the nation’s growth has been achieved through exploitation and coercion.

“Critical race theory is best thought of as a form of Marxism,” the report states. “Old-school Marxists divided the world by class—capitalist oppressor versus oppressed workers. Critical race theory is a new variant of Marxism that divides the world instead by race—race oppressors versus oppressed races.”

‘The Good, Common Sense of America’

MCPP President Douglas Carswell, who was a member of the British Parliament for 12 years, told The Epoch Times that the report hasn’t stopped critics from stating that CRT isn’t an issue.

“But we are coming at this as an evidence-based organization,” Carswell said. “We are an organization that believes in freedom and liberty. We aren’t in the business of banning Americans from believing whatever they want to believe. We are just against teachers who use public money to compel their students to believe that some Americans are inherently superior or inferior to others based on their immutable characteristics.”

MCPP’s method is to foster a competition of ideas, Carswell said, instead of holding one theory up as absolute truth, which he said is the goal of CRT. Within the competition of ideas, Carswell said, “the good, common sense of America will prevail against these delusions.”

Advocates of CRT have gone from saying it doesn’t exist to stating that it does exist but it’s not a problem, Carswell said.

“They’re going to have to make up their mind which particular deception they’re going to try to foist on the American public,” he said.

Mississippi Department of Education

There is evidence that the Mississippi Department of Education, Carswell said, has recommended K–12 teachers use resources that are “explicit in their promotion of critical race theory,” such as encouraging curriculums that require students to cite evidence that the U.S. Constitution is a “living document,” to examine race as a “defining characteristic,” and to defend pro-globalization and increased government regulation theories.

Other resources recommended through the department include “The Zinn Education Project,” in which students can learn how to draft their own reparations bill, the report states, as well as “Facing History and Ourselves,” a program in which students are taught to see whiteness as a “legacy of the brutal injustices of the past.”

In June 2021, Mississippi Department of Education Superintendent Carey Wright told Super Talk Mississippi Media that she hadn’t received any communication about CRT in schools.

“We’ve got our standards, or social studies standards, which are based on the history of the United States, and that’s already been out there. It’s been out for public comment,” Wright said. “It’s pretty black and white in terms of facts. I’ve not had anybody express concern about what is being taught.”

In response to a request for an update on that statement, a spokesperson for Wright told The Epoch Times that CRT is still not a part of the “Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards.”

“These standards outline the skills and knowledge expected of students in each grade and subject,” the spokesperson said. “We do not have evidence that CRT is being taught in Mississippi public schools.”

A Walkout

When SB 2113 passed in the Republican-dominated state Senate on January 14, black Democrats walked out of the chamber in protest against the proposal. Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons told Mississippi Today, “We felt like it was a bill not deserving of our vote,” and that, “even the author of the bill said this was not occurring in Mississippi.”

Republican state Sen. Michael McLendon initially proposed the bill and is reported to have said the bill was written to keep CRT from entering state curriculums without notice.

Extraction Plan

As a part of its plan for extracting CRT out of schools, MCPP had drafted a template bill that resembles SB 2113. It called for an audit of the state curriculum and a cessation of funding for schools that promote CRT. It also calls for a change to the state board of education. The current board, it states, is either unaware of CRT in schools or “aware and complicit.”

“Either way, the composition of the board needs to be changed to ensure that it takes steps to combat, rather than facilitate, critical race theory in the classroom,” the report states.

On the template bill and the one that was passed, Carswell said both were written to be consistent with the intentions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and national origin, and prohibited the use of federal funds to facilitate such discrimination.

“We are very pleased that it passed,” Carswell said. “It’s a great day for Mississippi and a great day for America and its founding principles.”