The Idaho House and Senate have approved legislation that would prohibit schools from compelling K-12 and higher education students to affirm or adopt the tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
The bill is now on the desk of Gov. Brad Little (R), awaiting his signature.
The Idaho Senate passed HB 377 with a vote of 27-8, following a 57-12 vote in the state House.
CRT investigator and writer Christopher Rufo tweeted the news that the Idaho House had passed the bill “banning critical race theory indoctrination in the state’s public schools”:
BREAKING: The Idaho state House has passed a bill banning critical race theory indoctrination in the state's public schools. The legislation would prohibit schools from promoting race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation. Onward! pic.twitter.com/ZPR5Y7LqWr
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) April 26, 2021
The text of the legislation states the tenets of CRT “exacerbate and inflame 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 well-being of the state of Idaho and its citizens.”
The bill continues:
No public institution of higher education, school district, or public school, including a public charter school, shall direct or otherwise compel students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to any of the following tenets:
(i) That any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior;
(ii) That individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin; or
(iii) That individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.
The legislation requires that “[n]o distinction or classification of students shall be made on account of race or color.”
Additionally, “[n]o course of instruction or unit of study directing or otherwise compelling students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to any of the tenets identified … shall be used or introduced in any institution of higher education, any school district, or any public school, including a public charter school.”
State Sen. Carl Crabtree (R), who sponsored the measure, said the bill “does not intend to prohibit discussion in an open and free way,” reported the Daily Mail.
“It is a preventative measure,” he added. “It does not indicate that we have a rampant problem in Idaho. But we don’t want to get one.”
“There’s no topic banned in the bill, there’s no book banned in the bill,” said Senate Education Chairman Steven Thayn (R), according to Idaho Press.
“It does not censor history, you can talk about anything in history… In fact it does not ban the teaching of critical race theory, it doesn’t ban that,” he emphasized. “It doesn’t ban anything. What it says is that you cannot compel students to adopt or adhere” to certain principles.
Thayn said CRT “tends to undermine the thesis that each of us are responsible for our actions,” and that the legislation “just reminds us what their proper role as a teacher really is.”
Nevertheless, state Democrats said the bill violates First Amendment rights and accused Republicans of holding up education budget bills.
Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D) said the bill “is not needed.”
“Our universities and school districts already have procedures in place that will deal with any problem we have in curriculum,” she said.
“What’s happening is we have a group that’s put out for public release comments that our teachers are brainwashing our children with a liberal leftist indoctrination,” she added. “And that’s simply not true. And we need to call that out. If that were true … we would not be the reddest state in the nation.”
According to Idaho Press, some students protested against the bill.
“Many people seem to think that teaching our students about the cruelty and suffering of our country’s past is some form of self-hatred for our own country,” said eighth-grader Yvonne Shen, a member of the Idaho Asian American Pacific Islander Youth Alliance. “But, make no mistake, this is self-awareness.”
The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a group whose stated goal is “to implement innovative ideas to deplete the power of special interests and free people from government dependency,” has supported the idea of prohibiting schools from compelling students to affirm tenets of CRT. The group said in a statement, however, the legislation fails in that it “does nothing to protect faculty members, professors or teachers.”
The Foundation explained further:
Under House Bill 377, faculty members, teachers and professors could still be forced to undergo anti-racism or culturally responsive training if they wish to serve on search committees or even obtain or keep a job. When educators are trained to be activists, the classroom becomes inherently political and one-sided. Additionally, the bill imposes no consequences on public universities and schools that violate section 33-138 of the bill by compelling students to affirm Critical Race Theory. Such consequences could be holding back funds, recognizing a cause for unemployment, or other disciplinary action. Therefore, this bill does not provide sufficient accountability for public schools and universities.
A national parents’ organization that arose from the battle against the Common Core State Standards has called for state legislatures to ban CRT in K-12 schools.
U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) urged state lawmakers to protect students from being compelled to affirm the tenets of CRT following a proposal from the Biden Department of Education backing the development of “culturally responsive teaching” in American history and civics.
In its proposed rule, the U.S. Education Department held up the widely discredited New York Times’ “1619 Project” as a model for schools to teach children the United States is fundamentally a racist nation.
The @CompCenterNet unveiled its Racial Equity and Social Justice collection which examines core obstacles to educational equity including this brief on actionable info regarding racial equity resources, services, and initiatives: https://t.co/PW2ugdQhXl
— U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) April 21, 2021
“The Biden administration’s proposal for American History and Civics Education programs is a federal bribe akin to the Race-to-the-Top grants that landed the failed Common Core Standards in nearly every state,” USPIE told Breitbart News. “The federal grant funds combined with the Civics Secures Democracy Act of 2021 will justify advocates of these harmful programs and make it easier for state and local officials to resist parents and community efforts to block the overreach of the federal government.”
USPIE observed how CRT is already becoming embedded in education and the nation’s culture:
Unfortunately, schools across the country are already teaching CRT. Here are just a few of the wrong philosophies enveloped in CRT: racial justice is a journey and the work will never be finished; we must disrupt the current policies and practices; everyone must act, no one can opt out; racism is our country’s original sin; do not say “All Lives Matter,” that is racist; “Whiteness” as a term describes traditional characteristics of success, i.e., hard work, punctuality, correct math answers, and white fragility describes why white people can’t talk about racism.
CRT, the parents said, seeks to “make some children feel guilt and anguish — not because of anything they have done, but solely based on the color of their skin.”
“THIS is racism,” USPIE emphasized, adding that when states pass laws banning CRT and “action civics,” parents will then have grounds to demand that schools eliminate all discrimination, as well as to form a foundation for litigation, if needed.
“USPIE believes Critical Race Theory is in fact child abuse,” the group asserted. “Teaching children they are oppressors or victims based on their skin color, teaching children to judge others based on the color of their skin, teaching children they cannot succeed in America because of the color of their skin is just plain wrong.”