April 6, 2022

Paul Thomas: The Politics of Calling for No Politics: 2022 Edition (South Carolina)

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Paul Thomas explains how the call for teaching “without politics” is not really what it wants to seem to be as he looks at the South Carolina version of an anti-CRT gag law, complete with the usual list of prohibited concepts.


The list of prohibited concepts ends with a caveat of sorts, which proves to be equally problematic:

(D) Notwithstanding subsection (A), LEAs are not prohibited from including concepts as part of a course of instruction, in a curriculum or instructional program, or through the use of supplemental instructional materials if those concepts involve:…

(2) the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history; or

(3) the impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region.


The focus on “impartial” fits into the opening statements of intent, and “impartial” is a traditional expectation of teaching and scholarship; however, since this and other bills like this are often vague in the rhetoric, what exactly “impartial” means in different contexts should be a concern.

In other words, does this bill prohibit teachers and students declaring horrific events in history (such as the Holocaust and slavery in the U.S.) as morally wrong?

Impartiality can be as distorting as bias, in fact.

A final monumental ideological problem the bill is that it centers parents in the role of policing curriculum (content) and instruction (including lesson plans)—an ideological decision that ignores the autonomy and interests of children.

After providing guidelines for parents monitoring and complaining about curriculum and instruction, the bill would codify the role of parents in their children’s education:

SECTION 3. Section 59-28-180 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

“Section 59-28-180. (A) Parent involvement influences student learning and academic performance; therefore, parents are expected to: …

(14) be the primary source of their student’s education in regard to learning morals, ethics, and civic responsibility.


Not only does this bill idealize parental ideology, but also it ignores that the purposes of universal public education are designed for individual liberty (students) and for democratic ideals (the community0; in other words, public schools are not designed to impose the unique ideology of each parent.

As I have detailed often in my writing, I was raised in a racist home and community; I was exposed to a better ideology through my formal schooling.

Ultimately, this bill is mandating parental indoctrination to the exclusion of students’ right and democracy.

Republicans are declaring themselves the party of their indoctrination is more important than anyone’s academic freedom. The party of the politics of calling for no politics.

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