Texas school district lists mandatory course on race in 2026-27



(The Center Square) – The Austin, Texas, public school district is considering requiring an ethnic studies course by the 2026-27 school year that would teach the impact of racism and focus on “the experiences and perspectives of people of color within and beyond the United States.”

Documents spelling out the requirement were included in a packet of information provided to the school board for its Nov. 27 study session. In those documents, the district stated the course would be mandatory and defined “Ethnic Studies” as “the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of people of color within and beyond the United States.”

The district stated, “ethnic studies analyzes the ways in which race and racism have been and continue to be social, cultural, and political forces, and the connection of race to the stratification of other groups, including stratification based on the protected classes.”

Texas passed two bills (House Bill 3979, Senate Bill 3) in the 87th Texas Legislature in 2021 that forbid the teaching of what has been loosely described as Critical Race Theory in the public schools.

The Texas State Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, was critical of the passing of both bills.

“Both bills purport to do away with lessons that are intentionally aimed at making white students feel shame or guilt for things that happened in the past,” The Texas State Teachers Association wrote in its analysis of the new legislation. “In reality, HB 3979 and SB 3 offer ‘solutions’ to a problem that does not actually exist. Nevertheless, because the bill authors have been successful in their false narrative, and because the language of the legislation is so vague as to potentially apply to any situation, educators must understand the new law and know their rights.”

In 2021, one Austin teacher questioned the spirit of the laws on teaching about race in the classroom.

“If the notion is that I’m spending time in class, in my Ethnic Studies class for example, intentionally trying to make white students feel guilty for things in the past, that is not something that I’ve ever done nor have any interest in doing,” said LASA teacher Adam Escandell, according to a 2021 school district media release. “But the bill is written so vaguely as to potentially apply to any circumstance.”

The school district and the Texas Education Agency didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. The Center Square reached out to the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, and the non-profits did not provide a comment.

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