Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow is pushing back against proposed federal priorities for schools to teach the theory that racism is an ingrained part of American life.
The U.S. Department of Education recently proposed priorities for American history and civics education grant programs which include encouraging districts to use curriculum related to the New York Times 1619 Project (a journalism project that focuses on the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black Americans), critical race theory and the work of anti-racism activist and author Ibram X. Kendi.
Critical race theory is described as some as proposing that racism is a social construct ingrained in American life and laws.
Balow called this an “alarming move” on Tuesday and said it should be rebuked across party lines.
“The draft rule is an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history. History and civics should not be secondary to political whim,” she said. “Instead, history and civics instruction should engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events.
“For good reason, public schools do not promote particular political ideologies or religions over others,” she continued. “This federal rule attempts to break from that practice and use taxpayer dollars to do just that.”
While Balow agreed that America needed to update and renew its expectations for teaching and learning about history and civics, she countered that every school board, state legislature and state superintendent should work to build a local consensus about what should be taught and what materials should be used in classrooms.
“Every family should be engaged in activities that ensure the rising generation is properly prepared to be informed citizens,” Baow said. “Every student deserves a rich and engaging education about America’s triumphs, treacheries, losses, and victories. Our touchstone is our shared principle that all Americans have infinite value and individual freedom and responsibility. We must strive to find common goals and values as a nation, not tear each other and our country apart.”
Last week, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill that outlawed state teachers to instruct on critical race theory and other “social justice” issues.
The proposed federal rule on these new educational priorities is open for public comment until May 19.