Balow pushes back against U.S. Ed's 'divisive' proposal on race and civics education - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Balow pushes back against U.S. Ed’s ‘divisive’ proposal on race and civics education

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. (Wyoming PBS, Youtube)

CASPER, Wyo — Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow issued a statement Tuesday in rebuke of a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Education prioritizing “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives” into American History and Civics Education.

“Those priorities include encouraging districts to use curriculum related to divisive author Ibram X. Kendi and the New York Times “1619 Project,” Balow said.

“This is an alarming move toward federal overreach into district curriculum and should be rebuked across party lines,” she added. 

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“1619” refers to the year that the first African slaves arrived in the English colony of Virginia. The Education department says  the “1619 Project,” and forthcoming books based on it, illuminate “both the consequences of slavery, and the significant contributions of Black Americans to our society.”

The Associated Press said the “1619 Project” was “ecstatically praised by many as a needed reassessment of American history,” but also “disputed by such scholars as Gordon Wood and James M. McPherson as unduly harsh in places, and rejected entirely by then-President Donald Trump and other conservatives.”

Balow said the Education Departments’s draft rule is “an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history.”

“History and civics should not be secondary to political whim,” she said, and should instead ”engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events.”

“For good reason, public schools do not promote particular political ideologies or religions over others. This federal rule attempts to break from that practice and use taxpayer dollars to do just that.”

Balow emphasized that school boards, state legislatures, and state superintendents should work to build a “local consensus” about what materials should be used to build curricula. 

The proposed federal rule is open for public comment until May 19 and can be accessed here, or by using the Google search for “Federal Register American history and civics education.” I intend to comment, and I urge you to research the issue and comment if compelled.

Balow’s full statement is below:

CHEYENNE – The U.S. Department of Education has proposed priorities for American History and Civics Education grant programs published in the Federal Register. Those priorities include encouraging districts to use curriculum related to divisive author Ibram X. Kendi and the New York Times “1619 Project.” This is an alarming move toward federal overreach into district curriculum and should be rebuked across party lines.

The draft rule is an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history. History and civics should not be secondary to political whim. Instead, history and civics instruction should engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events. For good reason, public schools do not promote particular political ideologies or religions over others. This federal rule attempts to break from that practice and use taxpayer dollars to do just that.

America needs to update and renew our expectations for teaching and learning about history and civics. Every school board, state legislature, and state superintendent should be working to build local consensus about what should be taught and what materials to use in classrooms. Every family should be engaged in activities that ensure the rising generation is properly prepared to be informed citizens. Every student deserves a rich and engaging education about America’s triumphs, treacheries, losses, and victories. Our touchstone is our shared principle that all Americans have infinite value and individual freedom and responsibility. We must strive to find common goals and values as a nation, not tear each other and our country apart.

The proposed federal rule is open for public comment until May 19 and can be accessed here, or by using the Google search for “Federal Register American history and civics education.” I intend to comment, and I urge you to research the issue and comment if compelled.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT JILLIAN BALOW’S STATEMENT ON PROPOSED U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RULE PRIORITIZING CRITICAL RACE THEORY CURRICULUM IN K-12 SCHOOLS