House Education Committee advances ‘Anti-Racism Act’

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House Education Committee once again considered the “Anti-Racism Act” on Monday, before ultimately advancing the bill to the Committee on Judiciary. 

SB 130 – which seeks to ban the teaching of “critical race theory (CRT)” in West Virginia’s public schools, and was passed by the Senate as part of the rule-suspension which occurred on day-one of the current legislative session – is nearly identical to a bill passed by the House of Delegates last March. 

As explained by House Counsel Melissa White, if enacted, the bill would prohibit teaching the concept that “one race is inherently, morally or intellectually superior to another race,” or that, “an individual’s moral character is determined by the individual’s race.” However, the bill makes no provisions for discrimination based upon religious beliefs. Another criticism of SB 130 is that the bill creates no tangible definition of the word “racism.” 

An amendment proposed by Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, sought to address the bill’s exclusion of religion by adding it into the language.

Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell.

“As we all know, through a historical lens, race has often coincided with religion,” Hornbuckle explained.

Del. Wayne Clark, R-Jefferson, disagreed, saying, “I don’t think it’s necessary to add. It’s sufficient – we don’t need to add religion into the bill.”

Del Wayne Clark, R-Jefferson.

Hornbuckle’s amendment adding religion, as well as his second proposed amendment calling for additional teacher training were voted down. Del. David Elliot Pritt’s, D-Fayette, amendment requiring that records be kept in the case of false complaints of violations of the bill was also rejected by the committee. 

Dale Lee, president of the W.Va. Education Association, who was in attendance to speak about SB 130, told committee members, “While I was primarily a math teacher, I also taught quite a bit of history.”

“Some of my best lessons were when I had a particular direction that I planned to go, and the questions from the students caused us to go in a completely different direction,” Lee continued. “Do I have concerns with the bill where I would be able to do that? Based on how this bill is written, absolutely I have major concerns.”

Prior to voting, Del. Hornbuckle said, “This is a ‘red meat’ bill – we understand what it’s about. All I ask, as stewards of all the people of West Virginia, get away from the political rhetoric. Get away from that, do the people’s work.”

“If you feel so strongly about anti-racism, I would ask you to join me in arms to help on this issue,” Hornbuckle concluded. “But I want to actually talk about racism. If we want to be educated, we have to know what racism is. So I would encourage everyone who wants to be educated to vote this legislation down. Or, at least change the name of the bill.”

Del. Dave Foggin, R-Wood, offered support to Hornbuckle while still supporting the bill, saying, “Amen brother, I appreciate you.”

“Love is an uncomfortable word to talk about,” Foggin added. “I grew up in a rural community where we didn’t know that all this bad stuff was going on. I support the bill, that’s all I got.”

Del. Dave Foggin, R-Wood.

After nearly 90 minutes of debate, SB 130 was adopted by the Education Committee, and will now advance to the House Judiciary Committee for their consideration. RealWV will provide updates as to the progress of the bill as additional information is made available. 

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