Education; Colleges and Universities


Michael McLendon


2022 Session

 Approved by the Governor

Read our analysis of this bill and what it may mean for history instruction in classrooms.

SB 2113 would prohibit K-12 public schools and public institutions of higher learning (IHLs) from compelling students to “affirm, adopt or adhere to” the idea that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin” is inherently superior or inferior, or that any of these groups should be treated adversely on the basis of that identity. SB 2113 would also prohibit schools from classifying students by race (with an exception for the required collection of demographic information). These prohibitions would apply to any courses of study as well as to the expenditure of state or local funds. 

SB 2113 does not contain the term “Critical Race Theory” (CRT), but the proponents of SB 2113 have described the bill as an effort to prevent the teaching of CRT at any Mississippi public school, including IHLs. At a January 12, 2022 Senate Education Committee hearing, Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright stated that “we do not have CRT in our curriculum,” and that she was not aware of CRT being taught at any K-12 public schools in Mississippi. Dr. Wright did concede that CRT “could be” being taught at Mississippi IHLs and “probably” in law schools.

CRT is defined by its original proponents as an academic framework for legal analysis which holds that racism can be “embedded in legal systems and policies,” an example being the process of “redlining” which began in the 1930s. By this definition, the concepts outlined in SB 2113 would not be classified as CRT. In recent years, however, both supporters and detractors of CRT have altered or expanded its definition to include a number of concepts that do not necessarily align with its original conception in the 1980s.

The concepts outlined in SB 2113—namely, discrimination against individuals based on their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin—remain largely illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For this reason, the bill would likely only have limited impact on current pedagogical practices in K-12 schools. However, the provision that prohibits “classification of students based on account of race” is written vaguely enough that it could be interpreted to have implications beyond what is currently federal law—though what exactly the bill’s proponents intend to achieve with this particular language is somewhat unclear. Nonetheless, supporters tout the overall bill as necessary to “ensure everything being taught in our classrooms is color blind” while detractors insist it is “retrograde” and “creates more problems than it solves.”

On January 21, the Senate passed SB 2113 by a vote of 32-2, with 18 senators absent or not voting. Prior to the vote, every Black senator walked out of the chamber in protest. SB 2113 will now be transmitted to the House.

3/3/22 Update:

On February 28, the House Universities and Colleges Committee passed SB 2113 along with party and racial lines after much debate. On March 3, the House passed SB 2113, largely along party lines. The bill will now go to the Governor.

3/15/22 Update:
On March 14, Governor Tate Reeves signed SB 2113 into law.

Read our analysis of this bill and what it may mean for history instruction in classrooms.