AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A Texas representative is asking school districts to report if they are using certain books on their campuses, specifically books pertaining to race and sexuality.
In an Oct. 25 letter to the Texas Education Agency that was first obtained by the Texas Tribune, Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, writes he is “initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content” in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigations.
Krause cites the recent removal of books in several Texas schools after parent complaints. One he references is an instance at Lake Travis ISD, where a book was pulled from two of its middle school libraries.
The letter includes a 16-page list of 849 books. It asks school districts to report if they have any of those books — if so, how many copies — plus how much money the total book copies cost the district. He’s also asking for information on any other books not listed that violate the new “critical race theory” Texas law.
Critical race theory is an idea that scrutinizes the history of racism and its pervasiveness in American systems today. The new Texas law states a teacher cannot “require or make part of a course” a series of race-related concepts, including the ideas that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that someone is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive” based on their race or sex.
Some of those include well-known names like “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore. The list also includes high-regarded books like Pulitzer Prize winner “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron and New York Time’s bestseller “The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander.
A spokesperson for Krause said the representative would not be available to interview, citing “long-standing committee policy to not comment on potential or pending investigations.” Krause is running for state attorney general in a competitive primary race against Ken Paxton.
Krause sent notice of the investigation to Lily Laux, the Texas Education Agency deputy commissioner of school programs, as well as some Texas school superintendents. His letter did not specify which school districts Krause was investigating. TEA provided the following comment:
“TEA’s investigative authority arises under the provisions of the Texas Education Code. Legislative investigatory authority falls outside of TEA’s purview, and any question regarding such authority should be directed to the committee. In addition, TEA does not comment on investigations that it may or may not have opened that haven’t yet closed.”Texas Education Agency
School officials have until Nov. 12 to respond. It is unclear what will happen to the districts that have such books.