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critical race theory

No Critical Race Theory Bills Made It Through 2022 Wyoming Legislative Session

in News/Legislature/Education
17743

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The three pieces of legislation related to the controversial topic of critical race theory that were proposed in the Wyoming Legislature this session have all died.

Senate File 103 was the third and last of the bills that was still working its way through the legislative process, but ultimately failed to win a review from the House on Tuesday in time to be considered for this session.

SF103 would have banned all schools and colleges that are supported in any manner by public funds from teaching “divisive tenets often described as a critical race theory that inflames divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or other criteria in ways contrary to the unity of the nation and the wellbeing of the state of Wyoming and its residents.”

The bill was co-sponsored by five senators, including Sens. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne.

With the killing of all three critical bills aimed at restricting the teaching critical race theory, Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that Wyoming may lose its designation as a “red state.”

“By contrast, Florida’s Legislature regularly passes conservative legislation and before the ink dries, Gov. Ron DeSantis signs it,” Bouchard said.

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 97, would have prevented any teacher, administrator or school employee from using public money for instruction that assigns any blame or judgment for societal developments on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, color or national origin.

HB97 sponsor Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, told Cowboy State Daily that is was disappointing and disturbing that all three of the CRT bills were killed this session.

“Critical race theory is totally inconsistent with our Wyoming values,” Gray said. “I plan on continuing to work on banning critical race theory.”

While debating HB97, Rep. Andy Schwartz, D-Jackson, gave a brief, impassioned speech about why his colleagues should not move the bill forward.

“This bill…states the teaching of history must be neutral and without judgment. Now, how can that be possible?” Schwartz said. “If I were a Native American, I doubt I could accept the neutral, judgment-free approach about the relocation and decimation of the Indigenous population. I’m Jewish, I cannot accept the neutral, judgment-free approach on the murder of 6 million Jews in World War II.”

Schwartz told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that teaching history has great value, but with that, educators must look at both the good and bad points of history.

“Everything’s not always good, our founding fathers were not perfect,” Schwartz said. “To be able to teach both sides, you can’t be constrained.”

He said that HB97 would have constrained teachers, which is why he argued against it earlier in the session. He added that it is not the job of the Wyoming Legislature to decide what is taught in K-12 schools.

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 earlier this week.

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

The Saratoga school district’s board of trustees voted in October to ban the teaching of critical race theory in its schools.

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Senate Passes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory, Now Headed To House

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would prevent the teaching of critical race theory in Wyoming won final approval from the Senate on Wednesday and sent to the House of Representatives.

Senate File 103 passed the Senate on a vote of 25-4.

The bill states that all schools and colleges that are supported in any manner by public funds shall not teach “divisive tenets often described as a critical race theory that inflames divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or other criteria in ways contrary to the unity of the nation and the wellbeing of the state of Wyoming and its residents.”

Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, told his colleagues during the floor debate that the bill does not limit what instructors can teach when it comes to dark events in history, such as slavery and the Holocaust, just that they cannot teach it in certain ways.

“The bill spells out what we’re not going to do when teaching history,” Biteman said. “Their instructional personnel may facilitate discussions and use curricula to address, in an age-appropriate manner, topics of sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation and racial discrimination.”

The bill was amended before the debate on Wednesday to add clarifying language about how children should be taught sensitive subjects, with the amendment stating that instruction on those topics and any supporting materials should be consistent with certain principles of individual freedom, such as the idea that no person is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, voiced his opposition to the amendment during the debate.

“When I read [the amendment] now, it does start to sound like there’s an agenda,” he said. “No doubt many members of this Senate agree with every statement on this page, but that’s not our responsibility to determine what is truth. It’s scary when this Legislature gets to determine what is truth. It’s very much outside the bounds of inappropriate legislative action when we are dictating truth through statute.”

Biteman said he intent of his amendment was the opposite of critical race theory and added the reason the bill itself was brought forward to begin with was to stop teaching children that one race is inherently better than the other.

“If we allow critical race theory in our schools, Martin Luther King, everything he fought for is out the window if we allow that kind of poison in our schools,” he said.

The bill is co-sponsored by five senators, including Biteman, Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne.

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

SF103 is the third CRT-related bill that has been proposed this legislative session. One that outright banned the teaching of the theory, House Bill 97, failed to win introduction last week.

The third bill, the “Civics Transparency Act,” which would require teachers to share online the materials they use to teach for review by parents and community, has been introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

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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Wyoming Senate Approves Critical Race Theory Bill For Second Reading

in News/Legislature/Education
Wyoming State Capitol
17279

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Senate on Tuesday moved a bill preventing the teaching of critical race theory in Wyoming schools onto a third and final Senate review.

Senate File 103 states that all schools and colleges that are supported in any manner by public funds shall not teach “divisive tenets often described as a critical race theory that inflames divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or other criteria in ways contrary to the unity of the nation and the wellbeing of the state of Wyoming and its residents.”

The bill was approved in its second reading Tuesday with no debate. It is awaiting a third and final vote in the Senate.

The bill is co-sponsored by five senators, including Sens. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne.

However, Rep. Andy Schwartz, D-Jackson, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that this latest critical race theory-related bill proposed in the Legislature is “unnecessary.”

“Nobody is teaching this theory,” he said. “It will never occur in the Wyoming K-12 school system. This is a college-level theory.”

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

SF103 is the third CRT-related bill that has been proposed this legislative session. One that outright banned the teaching of the theory, House Bill 97, failed to meet the standards for introduction last week.

Schwartz gave an impassioned, if brief, testimony last week during debate, asking for colleagues to reject HB97.

“This bill…states the teaching of history must be neutral and without judgment. Now, how can that be possible?” Schwartz said at the time. “If I were a Native American, I doubt I could accept the neutral, judgment-free approach about the relocation and decimation of the Indigenous population. I’m Jewish, I cannot accept the neutral, judgment-free approach on the murder of 6 million Jews in World War II.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, said the bill did not require a “neutral” approach to lessons, but that it did require a “complete and active perspective” of historic events.

The third bill, the “Civics Transparency Act,” which would require teachers to share the materials they use to instruct online for parents and community members to view, has been introduced and referred to the Senate Education Committee. The act was actually proposed last fall by Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, and Senate Majority Leader Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and was endorsed by former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.

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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Wyoming House Rejects Critical Race Theory Bill

in News/Legislature
17169

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill that would have banned the teaching of critical race theory.

House Bill 97 would have prevented any teacher, administrator or school employee from using public money for instruction that presents any blame or judgment on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, color or national origin.

Teachers also would not be allowed to instruct that any race, sex or color is inherently superior or inferior, that a person should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of their race, color or sex or that a person is inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color or sex.

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

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, the bill’s main sponsor, said during arguments in support of the bill Thursday that it bill actually defined critical race theory and doesn’t just use an umbrella term to ban anything race-related.

He added it is similar to rules in place in other states.

“The state Superintendent of Public Instruction supports this bill and 14 states have passed these bans,” Gray said.

Other sponsors included Reps. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, and John Bear, R-Gillette.

Gray pointed out during the Thursday morning session that the bill actually defined critical race theory and doesn’t just use an umbrella term to ban anything race-related.

But opponents such as Rep. Andy Schwartz, D-Jackson, said the bill asked the impossible by requiring a neutral teaching of history.

“This bill…states the teaching of history must be neutral and without judgment. Now, how can that be possible?” Schwartz said. “If I were a Native American, I doubt I could accept the neutral, judgment-free approach about the relocation and decimation of the Indigenous population. I’m Jewish, I cannot accept the neutral, judgment-free approach on the murder of 6 million Jews in World War II.”

Schwartz said when learning about the Holocaust, he has experienced a lifetime of discomfort and distress. He said it was “essential” that students should feel the same way when learning about dark periods in American and world history.

Gray argued that Schwartz was giving an “inaccurate” representation of the bill.

While 35 representatives voted to introduce the bill, 24 did not. Because it was a non-budget bill offered during a budget session of the Legislature, it would have required positive votes from two-thirds of the House to move forward.

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.

The Saratoga school district’s board of trustees voted in October to ban the teaching of critical race theory in its schools.

Last fall, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, drafted legislation that would combat the teaching of CRT in Wyoming schools.

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.

This bill, the Civics Transparency Act, had not been introduced as of Thursday. The deadline for the introduction of bills was Friday.

Gray, Neiman and Bear did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Thursday.

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Saratoga School District Bans Teaching Of Critical Race Theory

in News/Education
14443

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Saratoga’s school district officially banned the teaching of critical race theory in its schools during a meeting of the district’s board of trustees earlier this week.

On Monday, the board members unanimously adopted a resolution to ban teachers and staff from offering instruction on critical race theory or similar ideas. The district will not purchase any materials or bring any speakers to the schools that promote the ideas, according to the resolution.

“I believe that God’s children should all be treated the same,” one person at the meeting said.

Instead, the district will promote ideologies found in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Teachers will be allowed to talk about subjects such as racism, but will not be allowed to promote or encourage critical race theory.

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

Earlier this 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.

Carbon County Republican Party Chairman Joey Correnti IV praised the district’s move on Thursday.

“I definitely hope that this firm statement is the beginning of something grander across Wyoming, and I know that if any dedicated group of individual citizens have the fortitude, dedication, and talent, to make an impactful effort that will inspire others across the state to take a lasting stand, it is the liberty minded grassroots voices of rural Wyoming and especially those of Carbon County,” he said in a text to Cowboy State Daily.

“That’s really the great thing about grassroots efforts that are based on legitimate principles and not subjective feelings or personal benefit, there is always more than one group working on the issue because it is an issue of the people with whom all powers of government are inherent!” he said.

Last month, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, introduced legislation that would combat the teaching of CRT in Wyoming schools.

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.

Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis backed a bill that would prohibit federal funding from being used to teach the New York Times’ 1619 Project (named after the year Black slaves were first brought to the American colonies) and critical race theory in schools.

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Wyoming Education Association Concerned About Critical Race Theory Bill’s Consequences

in News/Education
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Education Association expressed concern this week about the potential consequences of a recently proposed bill regarding critical race theory.

“The Wyoming Education Association supports transparency in education, which is at the core of this proposed legislation,” President Grady Hutcherson said in a written statement to the Gillette News Record. “WEA welcomes parents and communities in their right to be collaborative partners in students’ education.

“However, we do have concerns about the potential unintended consequences this draft legislation could have for education employees, districts, and — most importantly — students,” he said.

WEA spokeswoman Amanda Turner did not return Cowboy State Daily’s requests for comment on Tuesday.

Last week, 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 proposed Civics Transparency Act, which he plans to introduce during the next legislative session in the spring.

The bill is currently in draft form with the Legislative Service Office.

“This draft legislation is the perfect example of a problem we see time and again here in Wyoming,” Hutcherson said. “The legislation reflects a lack of understanding about what’s practical in Wyoming classrooms.

“Being overly prescriptive by attempting to legislate strict adherence to cataloging all materials used to support lessons is unrealistic and burdensome red tape and takes away quality teaching time with students,” Hutcherson continued. “That expectation would strip education professionals of the creativity and adaptation necessary to teach.”

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

The legislation would require a publication of all instructional materials used by K-12 public schools in the state and modify the requirements for teaching about the 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.”

Driskill 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.

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.”

Driskill, Dockstader and Balow repeatedly said the 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, said that the theory itself likely wasn’t being taught in Wyoming’s K-12 schools at this point, but certain elements of the curriculum were.

“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.”

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Driskill To Introduce Legislation Combating Critical Race Theory In Wyoming Schools

in News/Education
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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.

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