Legislators in Wisconsin have taken the conservative battle against education on social justice and racial equality to a whole new level, attempting to not only ban teaching the concepts in the state’s schools but also proposing restrictions on using the very words to describe the concepts.
The Hill’s Reid Wilson reported that “the Wisconsin Assembly passed legislation on a party-line vote on Tuesday, Sept. 29, that would bar public schools from teaching critical race theory.”
According to Wilson, the proposed legislation makes the group “the latest Republican-controlled legislative chamber to take action on a culture war issue that erupted in school board meetings around the country this summer.”
Wisconsin’s measure mirrors similar policies recently enacted in other states around the country designed to prevent educators from teaching students about concepts such as racial injustice or inherent bias. But unlike those other state policies, the proposed Wisconsin bill goes even further, targeting specific words and phrases that would be banned from public school classrooms.
“It has come to our attention, and to some of the people who traveled here to Madison today, that a growing number of school districts are teaching material that attempts to redress the injustice of racism and sexism by employing racism and sexism, as well as promoting psychological distress in students based on these immutable characteristics,” Wisconsin Rep. Chuck Wichgers said in defense of the bill. “No one should have to undergo the humiliation of being told that they are inferior to someone else. We are all members of the human race.”
In addition to his proposed legislation, Wichgers attached an addendum to his bill that detailed many of the “terms and concepts” he wanted to see officially banned and removed from Wisconsin schools. That list included the words “woke,” “whiteness,” “white supremacy,” “structural bias,” “structural racism,” “systemic bias” and “systemic racism.”
Other proposed banned words include “equity,” “inclusivity education,” “multiculturalism,” “patriarchy,” “social justice” and “cultural awareness.”
“The bill would also bar ‘abolitionist teaching,’ in a state that sent more than 91,000 soldiers to fight with the Union Army in the Civil War,” Wilson reported. “The measure would apply to both instruction provided to students in the classroom as well as training provided to school employees.”
The Republican-approved legislation would also force schools to post classroom curriculum to public websites so the state could monitor what was being taught in the classroom. The bill states that schools that don’t comply with the ruling would lose up to 10% of their state funding. The legislation would also allow parents or guardians of students in a school violating the policy to sue the school in state circuit court.
Fortunately, although state Republicans approved the bill, Wilson reported that it has virtually no chance of becoming official state law.
“It passed the Assembly on a party-line vote,” Wilson reported. “Even if it clears the Senate, it would almost certainly be vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers, himself a former superintendent of public instruction.”