A Louisiana lawmaker is catching heat after saying schools should be required to teach the “good” aspects of U.S. slavery.
According to Forbes, GOP Rep. Ray Garofalo made the comments Tuesday while defending House Bill No. 564—a proposed measure that would prohibit K-12 schools and colleges from teaching “divisive concepts,” such as critical race theory. Garofalo, who is the chairman of Louisiana’s House Education Committee, explained his stance during a five-hour committee hearing, in which he claimed there were “certain factions in this country that are trying to infiltrate and indoctrinate our students.”
“If you’re teaching, having a discussion on whatever the case may be on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery—the good, the bad, the ugly,” he said.
Fellow Republican Rep. Stephanie Hilferty fired back: “There’s no good to slavery, though.”
Garofalo says the bill aims to keep “politics out of the classroom,” as well as foster “a learning environment and workplace that is respectful of all students and employees.” He specifically criticized the teaching of intersectionality and critical race theory, which examines systemic racism in American society. The lawmaker said such theories are rooted in Marxism and “fuels hate.”
“You can teach the good, the bad, the ugly. But you cannot say that theories are facts,” he said. “You can teach facts as facts. You can teach theories as theories.”
Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus slammed the bill in a statement to the Advocate, reiterating the claims the HB 564 attempts to whitewash the history of American slavery.
“[HB 564] intentionally hinders the type of open, fair, authentic and truthful dialogue that is critical to our educational institutions that are meant to teach,” the LLBC wrote. “Our schools are meant to cultivate the critical thinking skills that our young people need to make well-informed decisions about their lives and their future. How can they do this if bills that are passed through the sacred halls of this legislative body that purposefully silence the voices of our students?”
Garofalo asked the committee to keep HB 564 alive so that they may come up with a compromise; however, Democratic Rep. Gary Carter led a vote to kill the proposed legislation. His efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, as the vote ended up being 7-7. Garofalo is expected to continue the debate sometime during legislative session.