Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Louisiana State Legislature voted against a bill on Wednesday that would have mandated K-12 schools and higher education institutions to submit a report detailing their critical race theory (CRT) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
The Louisiana state House Committee on Education voted 6-5 against House Resolution 13, which aimed to examine the funding and resources allocated to CRT and DEI programs. Republican state Rep. Valarie Hodges, the bill’s sponsor, stated that the purpose was to further examine the activities offered by the state’s educational institutions, as reported by The Associated Press.
Opponents of the bill argued that it was unnecessary and questioned the motive behind cracking down on CRT and DEI initiatives. Democratic state Rep. Tammy Phelps challenged Hodges, asking, “What is your problem with inclusion?” according to the AP.
Monty Sullivan, president of Louisiana’s Community and Technical College System, referred to the legislation as a “racist instrument,” as reported by the Gambit, a Louisiana-based outlet.
“You’re asking people of color to justify why they need resources spent on them,” Sullivan said. “At its core, this is a racist instrument.”
Republican state Rep. Vincent St. Blanc, who played a role in hiring Sullivan and other education officials, expressed his opposition to the resolution based on their testimony. He stated, “I have a big problem with this [resolution], and I’m going to do the right thing,” according to the Gambit.
Similar efforts to restrict CRT and DEI programs have emerged across the nation. In Texas, lawmakers are in a special session to consider several bills after a CRT ban failed in the regular session. The North Carolina General Assembly is also contemplating a bill that would prohibit teaching CRT in K-12 public schools.
Hodges clarified that the purpose of the proposed bill was to seek transparency and clarification on how DEI, social emotional learning (SEL), and CRT concepts were being implemented. She stated, “Basically, the report is just requesting that we could have this information to have a clearer picture of what’s being done,” according to the Daily Advertiser, a Louisiana-based outlet.
The rejection of House Resolution 13 reflects the ongoing debate surrounding CRT and DEI initiatives and their place in education, as lawmakers and communities across the country grapple with differing perspectives on these topics.