By: Anna Miller and Kaitlyn Shepherd
Despite evidence to the contrary, public figures across Idaho continue to perpetuate the narrative that critical race theory (CRT) and other aspects of Critical Social Justice ideology are not being taught in Idaho’s public schools. The State Board of Education President, Kurt Liebech, argued that regardless of the national direction of CRT in education, there is “no indication of anything similar happening in Idaho.” Any legislators who dare call it out are attacked by the media and members of the education establishment in an effort to obfuscate the truth.
But a new undercover investigation released yesterday by Accuracy in Media shows that public school administrators and teachers continue to force CRT on students regardless of parental wishes or legislative directive.
Accuracy in Media is an organization dedicated to exposing biases and inaccuracies in the news media through investigative journalism and citizen activism.
The evidence uncovered reveals that school officials are gaslighting parents when they repeatedly deny they are teaching CRT. Instead of cleansing their schools of this divisive ideology, public school administrators are simply renaming this radical pedagogy and continuing to teach it to students.
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is one concept that is being renamed as “mental health curriculum.” SEL is an attempt to cultivate certain attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs in children. The transformative version of SEL is infused with critical race theory and encourages children to embrace ideas such as gender fluidity, anti-white racism, toxic masculinity, white privilege, and the supposedly unjust nature of American society. For example, the State Department of Education reports that at least 21% of Idaho schools implement the anti-racist SEL curriculum known as Second Step.
In the Accuracy in Media video, Melissa Langan, a chief academic officer in Caldwell School District, stated that she attended a superintendents meeting at which the school officials “were intentional to switch out Social Emotional Learning to behavior adaptations.”
“Changed the label, same stuff,” Langan said.
Langan added, “It’s kind of a bummer they have to do that, but at the same time it was kind of brilliant.” The interviewer then asked, “Why can’t we just do that with stuff like critical race theory?” Langan responded “I agree.”
Cindy Dion, a district instructional specialist in Nampa School District, explained that the district deceives parents by simply claiming, “We’re not doing SEL, it’s all mental health.” She facetiously added, “Of course we don’t do CRT.”
“We’re just learning how to worm around all those weird things out there,” she said.
Tenets of CRT are now taught and enforced under the guise of “equity.” Mark Jones, an administrator in the Boise School District, explained that the district’s new strategic plan focuses on equity. They have hired a supervisor whose title is World Studies, Social Studies and Equity to further their efforts. Jones commented that he “hopes” conservatives don’t catch on to the fact that equity is the new label for CRT.
Public school officials have responded to opposition to resources like the 1619 Project by using materials that cite them instead of the sources themselves. Dion admitted that the district circumvents public opposition to the 1619 Project by using Newsela, a company that provides online resources to teachers. Newsela’s resources include many CRT and social justice lessons. Dion said she would hide from public officials the supplemental curriculum and resources, such as Newsela’s materials, and only tell them about the official adopted curriculum.
Adam Guillette, president of Accuracy in Media, says in the video, “The fight to keep critical race theory out of K-12 classrooms is a never ending game of whack-a-mole.”
Parents must demand transparency from public education institutions. Legislators should ensure that parents can access any and all supplemental and extra curricular materials that are used in schools and presented to students.
And ultimately, parents must be empowered to choose the educational environment that aligns with their family’s values and serves the unique needs of each student. If legislators want to end political fighting in our public education system and embrace the diversity of ideas and religious plurality of our state’s citizens, then they should pursue school choice.
Watch the Accuracy in Media video to see the evidence for yourself.
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