The Tennessee Education Association (TEA), along with several teachers, filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Commissioner of Education and members of the State Board of Education over a law that prohibits the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in K-12 classrooms, according to a Wednesday press release.
In 2021, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill into law that banned K-12 educators from teaching tenets commonly associated with CRT in the classroom, including that the U.S. is fundamentally racist, one race or sex is inherently superior to another race and that a person is inherently privileged or oppressed due to their race. The TEA and five state teachers filed a lawsuit alleging that the law is “unconstitutionally vague” and interferes with educators’ ability to provide a “fact-based” education, according to a union press release. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Senators’ New Bill Would Crack Down On ‘Marxist’ Race-Based Lessons In K-12 Schools)
“There is no group of individuals more passionate and committed to ensuring Tennessee students receive a high-quality education than public school educators,” Tanya Coats, TEA president, said in the press release. “This law interferes with Tennessee teachers’ job to provide a fact-based, well-rounded education to their students.”
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist and teaches students to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
The Tennessee law prohibits teaching that meritocracy is inherently racist and that an individual should feel “discomfort, guilt [or] anguish” because of another person’s race. It also bans teachers from promoting the violent overthrowing of the U.S. government.
The lawsuit alleges that the state law did not give teachers the opportunity to learn what lessons and teachings are prohibited under the law, the press release stated. The TEA claims that the state’s curriculum and teaching standards, particularly its ban on CRT, violate the law, making it unclear what is allowed to be taught.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, parents, lawmakers and school boards have been battling over how race and equity issues should be addressed; a recently flipped conservative school board in Missouri revoked an anti-racism policy in July that had been adopted in 2020 after the death of George Floyd. A California school board banned CRT in December 2022 the same night three new members were sworn in to flip the majority conservative.
“We need to make sure that our kids recognize that this country is moving toward a more perfect union, that we should teach the exceptionalism of our nation and how people can live together and work together to make a greater nation, and to not teach things that inherently divide or pit either Americans against Americans or people groups against people groups,” Lee told reporters in 2021 ahead of signing the bill.
The TEA and the Tennessee Board of Education did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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