A controversial Louisiana education bill was stopped in its tracks on Tuesday (April 27) after a state representative said schools should teach the “good” of slavery. Rep. Ray Garofalo made the comment while pushing for his education bill, House Bill 564, which many criticized as an attempt to whitewash American history.
“If you’re 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,” the Republican lawmaker said.
Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, who is also a Republican, then interrupted him by saying, “There’s no good to slavery, though.” A clip of the moment made rounds on Twitter after it was shared by the Louisiana Democratic Party.
Garofalo’s education bill posed a ban on “divisive concepts” in the classroom and said teachers should not discuss or acknowledge institutionalized sexism or racism. The legislation was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in the state and was ultimately voted down in the Louisiana House on Tuesday.
“I’m not sure that we can get this bill in the correct posture this session,” Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Barbara Freiberg said on the floor.
New Orleans Democrat Rep. Gary Carter added simply, “This is a bad bill.”
Teachers also pushed against the bill, saying it would contribute to public education’s whitewashing of American history.
“As a history teacher, that presents a problem for me because there are many instances in Louisiana and the United States where there was institutionalized racism,” Chris Dier, who was named Louisiana Teacher of the Year in 2020, said to New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU. “And that history belongs in the classroom.”
The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education also opposed the bill, which they called a “slippery slope.”
“The truth is that systemic and institutionalized racism and sexism do exist. Denial of such truth-telling — not indoctrination or blaming — prevents our state and country from an important acknowledgment that is required to move into a new day united,” the statement read. “We believe this bill would prevent the truth-telling and honesty about our past required for writing a brighter future and history for all families here.”
While the bill was voted down in the Louisiana House, lawmakers did leave it open for the possibility of a future debate. See the video of Rep. Garofalo and Rep. Hilferty’s exchange on Twitter below.