Starting this school year, English, history and math, are not the only classes required to graduate high school in Texas.
A new state law requires students in grades nine through 12 to receive a class, paired with a 16-minute video, that aims to teach them how to deal with law enforcement during a traffic stop.
Known as the Community Safety Education Act, Senate Bill 30 was signed into law by the 85th Texas Legislature to help ease tensions between police and students in the wake of multiple shootings by police of unarmed citizens that have taken place across the United States in recent years.
“We did not feel that we could stand idly by as these tragic incidents that erode public confidence and create distrust for law enforcement continue to occur without making an effort that could ultimately help save lives,” the author of the bill, state Sen. Royce West, said in a press release in 2017, when the bill passed the Texas Senate.
What students see in the video
The video, first published in September, begins with West explaining what officials plan to achieve with the bill.
“The goal of the act was to define the behavior and expectations of citizens and law enforcement during traffic interactions,” West said on the video, adding that he hopes this helps repair trust issues between citizens and the police.
“We’re addressing that issue through training in the academies; our law enforcement academies, our schools, and driver’s education programs,” West said.
After the introduction, the video shows a re-enactment of students being pulled over for speeding and the officers explaining to them what to do next.
The re-enactment is followed by different students asking questions about what to do if they have to deal with law enforcement, with officers answering those questions.
Teachers get guidelines and tips
According to the State Board of Education, students must watch the video to graduate, and educators should follow detailed guidelines to educate the students about the video.
The guidelines include:
- “The role of law enforcement and the duties and responsibilities of peace officers.”
- “Rights concerning interactions with peace officers.”
- “Proper behavior for civilians and peace officers during interactions.”
- “How to file a complaint against or a compliment on behalf of a peace officer.”
Teachers are also given tips on how to address questions or concerns that parents have regarding the class, as well as on how to draw their students out on the subject to enhance their understanding.
CNN has reached out to the Sate Board of Education and West for further comment.