Civics Transparency Bill Dies In Wyoming House Education Committee

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would have required teachers to post their class materials online for public view has died in a Wyoming House of Representatives committee meeting.

The “Civics Transparency Act,” which would have required online publication of all instructional materials used by K-12 public schools in the state, died on a vote of 5-4 in the House Education Committee.

The bill was rejected by the committee after several speakers criticized it as an unwarranted burden on the state’s teachers.

Wyoming Education Association president Grady Hutcherson said that the bill had an unintended consequence of demoralizing teachers in the state.

“It’s an insult to me as a professional, that I have to be micromanaged to this level,” he told the education committee. “We know that this bill is supposed to be about transparency. We wholeheartedly believe in transparency. We know the value of the parents’ involvement in the education process.

“Parents could come into my classroom anytime they wanted,” he continued. “So all of these things are already in place. That’s why the unintended consequence of this transparency bill is more about political rhetoric than being respectful of professional educators.”

Tim Mullen, government relations director with the Wyoming Department of Education, raised similar points. He also pointed out that there could be undue burden not only on Wyoming’s teachers, but its administrators, with trying to implement this new law into the schools.

“The idea that we don’t have transparency, or there’s a problem with transparency, in the state of Wyoming, we believe that nothing could be further from the truth,” Mullen said.

The bill was killed despite testimony from bill co-sponsor Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, that the bill is all about transparency in Wyoming’s education.

“What this bill is, is what the title says: transparency,” Driskill said. “Transparency means you put it up where you find it. I admire our teachers in what they do, unabashedly. Does this mean we shouldn’t be transparent in the materials we’re using?”

The bill was related to the critical race theory debate that was sparked last fall.

Critical race theory is described by some as proposing that racism is a social construct ingrained in American life and laws.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education proposed guidelines for American history and civics education grant programs which encourage schools 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.

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