WYOMING – Two leaders of the Wyoming State Senate joined state superintendent Jillian Balow to announce legislation and efforts to preemptively prevent critical race theory from being taught in Wyoming classrooms.
During a Sept. 10 press conference, Sen. Ogden Driskill announced his office has drafted the Civics Transparency Act with the Legislative Service Office. The Devils Tower representative 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.”
Balow, a vocal critic of critical race theory, supported the proposed legislation.
“K-12 classrooms are not an appropriate forum for radical political theory such as CRT,” she said. “But it is not enough as state leaders to say what shouldn’t be taught, we also need to help school districts with what should be taught. That is why this bill is so critical. This bill empowers parents with tools they need to oversee what is being taught in their district and provides guidance to districts on comprehensive U.S. history and civics instruction.”
Senate President Dan Dockstader added that people cannot stand to see the country’s history be rewritten.
“We honor facts, we learn history, good and bad, and we recognize that Wyoming is the Equality State,” he said.
Concerned parents have spoken about the potential addition of critical race theory to the Sublette County School District 9 curriculum. Superintendent Dr. Charles Jenks has repeatedly responded by acknowledging these concerns and sharing that districts aren’t aware of any potential addition of critical race theory to the curriculum. Any additional federal dollars provided to the district are not tied to curriculum, rather district staffing in a time where dwindling enrollment could shrink the district’s staff.
Driskill said his bill intends to reinforce that no one race is inherently better or worse. He said it’s important for the future generations to base opinions on their own terms “rather than on the terms of Nancy Pelosi, the far-left and Hollywood.”
The bill states that school districts must prominently publish a list of learning material during the preceding school year, as well as any policies or procedures governing approval or consideration of learning materials and activities.
Driskill’s bill also states that any school or college that receives public funds shall give instruction in the essentials of the United States Constitution, as well as the constitution of Wyoming. A student shall receive a degree without satisfactorily passing an examination on the principles of the constitution of the United States and Wyoming. That instruction is determined in the bill to be given at least three years from kindergarten to eighth grade and an addition year in each secondary and college grades.
The bill instructions each school district to, in fourth grade, teach the principles of the first and second paragraphs, and last sentence of the Declaration of Independence. It also requires teach the principles of Article 1, Sections 2 and 3, and Article 6, Section 1 of the Wyoming Constitution.
“Students shall be provided a copy of the provisions and class time shall be dedicated to discussion of the meaning of the provisions identified in this subparagraph,” the bill reads. “That Wyoming was the first jurisdiction to provide men and women with equal right to vote and hold a public office when Wyoming’s first territorial legislature passed the measure by law in 1869.”
The bill also directly addresses the teaching of slavery with its own definition.
“The history of slavery and race-based discrimination, to include the end of slavery and efforts to end discrimination in accordance with the founding principles of the United States,” it reads.
“That it is wrong to be unfair to anyone or treat anyone differently due to their race or ethnicity.”
Critical race theory is a field of curriculum aimed at exploring racism in social construct and institutions that was first explored by scholars in the mid 1970s. Latest curriculum offerings show only 20 American law colleges and three non-American law schools offer courses or classes on the theory.