By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Wyoming legislator announced on Friday that he will be introducing legislation to combat the teaching of critical race theory, with the support of Wyoming’s top education official.
Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, was joined by Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow at a press conference in the Wyoming State Capitol to announce his forthcoming Civics Transparency Act that he will introduce during the next legislative session in the spring. The bill is currently in draft form with the Legislative Service Office.
The legislation would require a publication of all instructional materials used by K-12 public schools in the state and modify the requirements for instruction of state and federal constitutions.
“Anything that’s going on in a classroom will be posted on a website so that you, as the public and as the parents, have the ability to see what’s being taught to your kids and what the curriculum is,” Driskill said. “So if they’re bringing in guest speakers, someone from out of the state or country that doesn’t fit, there is a chance for everyone to see.”
He added that the bill highlighted portions of the Wyoming Constitution that focuses on equality for all, no matter a person’s race.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education 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.
Driskill said his bill gives “parents the tools to know what is being taught in their children’s classrooms and prevents the indoctrination found in the critical race theory curriculum that has been pushed by the far-left and has found its way into some classrooms.”
However, Driskill, Dockstader and Balow repeatedly said this bill is not intended to block the teaching of critical race theory, but to allow for transparency on what is being taught.
Balow, who has been a noted opponent of critical race theory, also noted that the literal theory likely wasn’t being taught in Wyoming’s K-12 schools, but certain elements on the curriculum was.
“There are classrooms in the state that have discussed CRT-related topics such as white oppressions, systemic racism and white privilege,” she said. “I’ve even seen class notes that not only reference Marxist revolution…that lead students to make conclusions that support Marxism in the absence of any comparison to other theories or concepts.”
She added that the bill doesn’t steer educators away from difficult topics such as slavery or the mistreatment of certain groups in the United States.
“It is my hope that this bill is the beginning of a roadmap that helps us ensure that every student has access to the best civics and history education,” she said. “I believe that this bill will be a national model for other states to follow.”
She concluded that the most important topic in the bill was that the taxpayers, parents and school board members were more empowered and there would be accountability in Wyoming’s schools.