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State Sen. Barfoot: ‘Divisive concepts’ bill doesn’t force teachers to ‘gloss over’ history

A bill to prohibit the promotion of “divisive concepts” in K-12 public school teachings gained approval from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

Sponsored by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), House Bill 312 aims to prevent public school students from being exposed to instruction which teaches that one race, sex or religion is superior to the other.

The bill has garnered criticism from Democratic lawmakers and members of the left-wing media. Some critics claim that, if passed, the legislation would disallow certain historical events from being taught due to the controversial nature of the subject.

Pushing back on that assertion during a Tuesday appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” was State Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road), who is the upper chamber’s bill sponsor.

“Let me, first of all, say that some people have referred to it as a Critical Race Theory, or CRT, bill. It’s interesting to note that the words Critical Race Theory or CRT are not found in the bill,” noted Barfoot. “The bill itself has nine divisive concepts. I think if you listened in committee [Tuesday], I think even some of the Democratic members of the committee acknowledged that, by themselves, those concepts, nine divisive concepts… is something we shouldn’t be teaching or pushing on our kids.”

Barfoot made mention of the Alabama State Board of Education’s passage of a resolution in August 2021 which banned Critical Race Theory-based teachings in public schools. Since the resolution is not binding, the senator advised that the Republican lawmakers were attempting to enshrine into law the board’s intentions.

Barfoot went on to outline specific language in the legislation which states the bill’s intention to not bar historical events from being taught in the classroom.

“[I]t’s important that we teach history. It’s important that we don’t gloss over it,” recognized Barfoot. “I mean, there’s lots of good to talk about in Alabama. There’s lots of good that’s happened across throughout United States. There’s also some bad and some ugly, to kind of quote the Clint Eastwood western. And it’s important that we talk about all those. And there’s a section that’s specific to the bill that enumerates that nothing in this bill is meant to indicate that we can’t talk about those historical events in a factually accurate setting.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL