The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and PEN America released a statement decrying the approximately seventy bills that have been introduced since January 2021 which aim to restrict what teachers can say in the classroom. According to the statement, the bills focus on topics “related to race, racism, or gender that legislators regard as divisive or otherwise objectionable.”

The seventy identified by the AAC&U apply to Higher Education, but if you include primary and secondary, the situation becomes even grimmer. There has been at least one high profile piece of legislation in the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that was signed into law earlier this year but this statement clearly makes the case that it is far from unique.

The AAC&U avoids wading into political waters and instead rests its argument on the traditional role that academic freedom has played in society as well as the principle of shared governance which gives faculty and students a say in official policy.

Not to mention that many of the specific topics that the bills are banning make it especially hard to teach certain areas of history, sociology, and economics.

And even while these organizations are raising the alarm, it is extremely unclear how to combat this. Teachers and faculty members are now having to negotiate bounties for breaking these laws. That, added to all the problems associated with Covid is simply leading to more burnout, teachers leaving, and will eventually lead to hiring second tier teachers to fill the gaps. Conservative parents are circling their wagons in fear of CRT and using it to attack teachers. There is no straightforward solution to this, and figuring out how to navigate this along with the dangers of gun violence can leave anyone feeling pretty overwhelmed.

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