On Monday afternoon, June 28, the Idaho State Board of Education will hold a special meeting to discuss the need to change how educational institutions talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future. This action is in response to HB 377, which prevents educational institutions in Idaho from compelling students to agree with the tenets taught in Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Although Idaho was the first state in the nation to pass legislation related to CRT, HB 377 is widely regarded as toothless. It does not prevent teachers or professors from teaching CRT, only from compelling students to agree with it. Major media outlets misled the public by saying HB 377 banned the teaching of CRT in Idaho. It does not.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Critical Race Theory is an offshoot of Marxist-oriented critical theory, and it holds that race is a cultural invention to oppress people of color. A basic tenet taught in CRT is that all white people and western institutions are inherently racist, and that people of color cannot be racist.
In the document outlining the Idaho State Board of Education’s discussion about amending board policy, the board states, “This policy is the result of Board discussions around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the public school system in response to unfounded allegations of systematic indoctrination occurring at the four-year public postsecondary institutions in Idaho.” (See the full text of their amendment discussion here – it also appears below)
In May, Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin assembled a citizen task force to investigate the reports of CRT being taught in Idaho’s schools. Compelling testimony on the existence and impact of CRT in Idaho has been given at the Task Force’s meetings held thus far, and yet education bureaucrats and major media outlets continue to ignore the findings, stating that the accusations of CRT instruction in Idaho are unfounded.
One parent of a Boise School District student who did not want to be named said the proposed amendment’s wording indicates the board is seeking a way to continue teaching the principles of CRT in Idaho’s schools in ways that do not raise red flags to legislators.
True Idaho News reached out to Branden Durst, a candidate for Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction. In response to the board’s proposed amendment, Durst said, “They are not taking the public’s concerns seriously. As I travel all over the state, people think they should not be dismissive about CRT. Critical Race Theory is divisive. Idaho is not immune to it.”
Durst also said, “Even by having this special meeting, they’re showing they can do something if they want to, but they don’t want to address the CRT issue. The Board President said he’s not seen any evidence of indoctrination. That’s his position, and that’s the position of the other board members, too. Until they start taking the public’s concerns seriously instead of brushing them off, nothing’s going to change.”
The board’s special meeting will be Monday, June 28 at 4:00 pm in Boise at the Len B. Jordan Building, 650 W. State Street, 3rd Floor. For those who wish to watch via YouTube, livestreaming will be available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7j4VGGyNzPa6g6a-zVTHnA.
Here is the content the document published by the State Board of Education regarding the Board Policy Amendment:
Board Policy III.K. Diversity, Educational Equity, and Inclusion – First Reading
REFERENCE – May 2021
The Board was provided an update on legislation, including the discussions around House Bill 377 and the concerns from legislators that social justice and diversity programs were negatively impacting the quality of education at Idaho’s public postsecondary institutions. The Board discussed the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion from a business perspective and the need for the Board to change how it messages issues around diversity and inclusion. The Board discussed setting the tone of the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion and defining these terms.
APPLICABLE STATUTES, RULE OR POLICY
Article I, Section 9, Idaho Constitution
Sections 33-138 and 33-139, Idaho Code
This policy is the result of Board discussions around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the public school system in response to unfounded allegations of systematic indoctrination occurring at the four-year public postsecondary institutions in Idaho. This policy embodies the charge and expectation of each institution to promote and advance the principles of diversity, educational equity, and inclusion. These concepts are necessary components of educational experiences that challenge individuals to grow, improve critical thinking, refine skills, build character, develop awareness, and engage in freedom of thought and expression.
Through implementation and promotion of the principles of diversity, educational equity, and inclusion, each institution will more fully safeguard the right of every individual to participate in meaningful experiences that foster belonging and promote awareness of differing viewpoints. Encouraging and supporting these principles is central to academic success, to engendering innovation and creativity, and to fully preparing students to thrive in an increasingly diverse and global workforce. This new Board policy will formally require each institution to establish and maintain local policies related to diversity, educational equity, and inclusion, in accordance with the unique Board-approved missions and purposes of each institution. The new policy will also require each institution to develop and maintain local policies that describe and make transparent a process for addressing claims of oppression and unlawful discrimination.
STAFF COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
All four institutions currently have policies and procedures, as well as specific efforts and activities, for promoting diversity, educational equity, and inclusion. This new Board policy will establish uniform definitions for, and standards related to, these important concepts. It is anticipated the local institutional policies will be updated to reflect these definitions and standards. Accountability toward the goals of this new policy will be accomplished through the Presidential Annual Reports, at the direction of the Executive Director. This policy was developed through conversation with leaders of each institution. It was also reviewed by members of the Idaho Indian Education Committee, the Hispanic Commission for Idaho, and the members of the Instruction, Research, and Student Affairs Committee of the Board.
I move to approve the first reading of proposed amendments to Board Policy III.K, Diversity, Educational Equity, and Inclusion, as submitted in Attachment 1.
Moved by __________ Seconded by __________ Carried Yes _____ No _____
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