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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Chill in the Classroom

 Hello from sunny Arizona (it’s now down under 100 degrees so bearable but I see Seattle is heating up)!

The Arizona legislature, which makes the Washington legislature look brilliant, passed a budget bill in the middle of the night after legislators had been given a 200-page amendment just hours before. Within that budget, there is a bill, there is language that will…


punish teachers who don’t present both sides of controversial science or events, a move that some lawmakers say could force them to seek out and present contrary views on everything from climate change and slavery to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the Holocaust – and even whether Joe Biden really won the election.

The measure approved along party lines requires that any “controversial issues” discussed in the classroom must be done “from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

But Udall’s legislation contains no definition of what is “controversial” and, under her proposal, could not be presented as fact but instead would require a teacher to provide an alternate view – or face discipline.

And that lack of definition alarmed some legislators who pointed out that any teacher who violates the law is subject to not just a $5,000 fine, but would be forced to reimburse the school for any “misused monies.”

But really, the issue is Critical Race Theory in teaching.

Much of what is in her amendment to SB1532 is aimed at precluding instruction that one race, ethnic group or sex is “inherently morally or intellectually superior to another.” Udall’s measure also would bar teaching that any individual bears responsibility for actions committed by others of the same race, ethic group or sex.

“It simply prevents teaching our students that their race determines their character, treatment or worth,” she said. “Biased, unbalanced teaching hurts children.”

This story is from the Arizona Times.

From Florida and a story in the Tampa Bay Times:

In his continued push against the “indoctrination” of students, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed legislation that will require public universities and colleges to survey students, faculty and staff about their beliefs and viewpoints to support “intellectual diversity.” 

The survey will discern “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” in public universities and colleges, and seeks to find whether students, faculty and staff “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom,” according to the bill.The measure, which goes into effect July 1, does not specify what will be done with the survey results. But DeSantis and Sen. Ray Rodrigues, the sponsor of the bill, suggested on Tuesday that budget cuts could be looming if universities and colleges are found to be “indoctrinating” students.

As the governor said, we are at great risk, as a nation and as a state, on the lack of intellectual diversity that is on our university campuses,” Sprowls said. “We have decided that one ideological standard will win the day, but the thing is we’re losing because we’re not having real conversations.” 

Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, asked Rodrigues, R-Estero, if the information could be “used to punish or reward colleges or universities?” She wondered: “Might faculty be promoted or fired because of their political beliefs?”

Rodrigues said no. But the language in the bill, and the statements made Tuesday, do not back that assertion. The bill also offers no assurances that the survey’s answers will be anonymous, and there is no clarity on who can use the data and for what purpose.

So a privacy issue AND a CRT issue? Great.

Now you may think, “Well, that’s just the crazy-ass states like Arizona and Florida.” Here’s the last story to tie up the bow on top.

From NBC News about a district in Maine:

The district had denounced white supremacy in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police, but did not teach critical race theory, the academic study of racism’s pervasive impact 

But the parent, Shawn McBreairty, grew increasingly disgruntled and soon connected with No Left Turn in Education, a rapidly growing national group that supports parents as they fight against lessons on systemic racism. That action turned a heated conflict with the school board into one that soon drew national attention, mobilized by a new, increasingly coordinated movement with the backing of major conservative organizations and media outlets.

It’s a movement that has amped up grassroots parental organizing around the country, bringing the lens and stakes of national politics — along with the playbook of seasoned GOP activists — to school boards.

Conflicts like this are playing out in cities and towns across the country, amid the rise of at least 165 local and national groups that aim to disrupt lessons on race and gender, according to an NBC News analysis of media reports and organizations’ promotional materials. Reinforced by conservative think tanks, law firms and activist parents, these groups have found allies in families frustrated over Covid-19 restrictions in schools and have weaponized the right’s opposition to critical race theory, turning it into a political rallying point.

I mentioned this guy, Christopher Rufo in my first CRT thread. 

O’Brien later joined a coalition of attorneys focused on this cause, organized by Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. 

Rufo, who said he was in touch with then-President Donald Trump’s staff before he issued an executive order last September banning critical race theory’s use by federal agencies, promised in a March tweet to make critical race theory “toxic” in the public imagination. Rufo declined an interview request.

The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory,’” he wrote. “We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.

The real “uh oh?” 

Virtually all school districts insist they are not teaching critical race theory, but many activists and parents have begun using it as a catch-all term to refer to what schools often call equity programs, teaching about racism or LGBTQ-inclusive policies.

I asked Superintendent Brent Jones about this issue at a SCPTSA Zoom meeting, saying it would only take a couple of parents disrupting a Board meeting to make it suddenly a huge issue. He basically brushed me off. 

I’d like to think SPS might be safe from this nonsense but maybe not especially if CRT is the umbrella code and under that umbrella is racial equity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"As the governor said, we are at great risk, as a nation and as a state, on the lack of intellectual diversity that is on our university campuses,” Sprowls said. “We have decided that one ideological standard will win the day, but the thing is we’re losing because we’re not having real conversations.”

I don't know who Sprowls is, but to be clear there there is indeed a concern in academia that cuts across the political spectrum of liberal and conservative regarding a lack of "intellectual diversity" on college campuses. It is highly valued in academia. Folks interested should also check out the PBS Firing Line Episode with Cornell West & Robert George. https://www.tpt.org/firing-line-with-margaret-hoover/video/cornel-west-and-robert-george-zaegrp/ also see https://heterodoxacademy.org/

LS