After months of discussions nationwide and in Utah, including a special session of the Utah Legislature, teachers in Utah now have a rule that clarifies the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion that cannot be taught in public schools.
The Utah State Board of Education voted 13-1 Thursday to allow its administrative rule on equity in education to come into effect.
The board passed the first motion on the matter, meaning it ignored the 40-page paper from board member Natalie Cline, which proposed significant changes to the rule that was unanimously approved by council in June. The proposed changes included a list of over 100 terms and concepts that, if taught as part of critical race theory, would violate the council rule.
Some of the terms included socio-emotional learning, inclusion, social change, empathy, and free radical therapy. Cline voted in the opposition.
Four pages of amendments introduced by board member Jennie Earl were also not taken into account.
Board member Brent Strate, a recently retired high school teacher, said board deliberations on the rule began with a discussion of education equity in January.
“I think maybe that was lost on this. We have the start of the school year. Teachers need to be in a position where they know what they have. … I think this rule gives protections. I think it is important that the training starts to be developed so that teachers have firm and concrete examples of what is appropriate and what is not, ”said Strate.
While the board’s deliberations on education rules began eight months ago, the matter became more urgent after state lawmakers convened in special session in May and passed a resolution. non-binding on the critical theory of race. The resolutions called on the state’s school board to ban what lawmakers called critical concepts of “harmful” racial theory.
Between the process of drafting the rules of the council and a public hearing conducted on administrative rule R277-328, the council heard several hours of public testimony, debated between them for four hours on the rule taking into account nearly 30 amendments, and received what one board member said was at least 1,000 emails from members of the public.
Carol Lear, a board member, said she was embarrassed “that it feels like this is a popularity contest,” sending thousands of emails to members. of the board would persuade board members to make fundamental changes to the rule.
“It’s not like voting for Love Island or for American Idol. It’s that the council has a responsibility to uphold the law, to respect the law, and it’s not a strictly majority process, ”she said.
After a long process, the board came up with “a pretty balanced rule,” said board vice chair Cindy Davis.
“If this rule was a bad rule or bad for children, then I would never have voted for it in the first place,” she said.
The board received public comments on the rule earlier today, with some participants urging passage of Cline’s amendments. Still others have asked the board to let the rule go into effect as written.
Sophia Anderson, mother of four from Salt Lake City, said she was trying “to understand and connect the dots on the origin of CRT poison, fairness and Marxist ideologies,” she said. declared.
After submitting requests for public documents, she said she found out that “our children are sold and you are not doing it”, referring to the members of the board of directors and the superintendent of public education of the Sydnee Dickson State.
Anderson, who continued to speak after her allotted time, was approached by a state security soldier at the meeting and concluded her remarks without incident, but said she would post the comments online. recordings she had obtained.
James Sullivan, who identified himself as a black conservative, said that if the board thinks critical race theory is the way to empower the black community, “you need to do more research and you really need to find out what affects the black community. “
Dickson, who addressed the board during its monthly report, said she spent a lot of time over the summer meeting with families who had questions and concerns about fairness in educational matters and the concepts of critical race theory.
Dickson said the State School Board now has a statewide contract with Canvas, which should make it easier for parents to see the content and materials their children’s teachers are using.
She said she had seen “a few examples” where teachers attached links to material that may not be related to a state standard or was not age appropriate. State School Board employees should carefully review what is sent to teachers, and educators themselves should ensure “that they scrutinize whatever material is,” she said.
She continued, “I think if we could get our teachers to remain politically neutral that would be very helpful.”
If a teacher is passionate about a political candidate or office, it can alienate some children and their families, Dickson said.
“If there is something that pops up and a teacher tries to put their point of view in the classroom to influence, it can alienate a lot of kids. So the key is for our teachers to have these rich and wonderful conversations but to remain politically neutral. I think that goes for religion and all kinds of things, just staying in that neutral zone, ”she said.