By: Mark Glennon*
ISBE, the Illinois State Board of Education, has proposed a rule for Illinois schools titled “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards.”
If adopted, it will expressly mandate what teachers must think, believe and teach, and it would disqualify teachers that don’t conform.
It would replace education with political indoctrination. It’s written just as you would imagine from a regime attempting to transition from freedom of thought and diversity of opinion to authoritarianism and state censorship.
It’s centered around a requirement to be a “culturally responsive teacher.” Each section of the rule starts by saying what a culturally responsive teacher will do.
Will do means must do under the proposed rule. “Approval of any preparation program or course of study in any teaching, school support, or administrative field…shall be based on the congruence of that program’s or course’s content with the applicable standards identified in this Part.”
Some examples of what teachers “will do” under the rule:
Mandatory counterculture curriculum. The culturally responsive teacher will “co-create content to include a counternarrative to dominant culture.”
Training students to be progressive activists. Leveraging Student Activism” is an entire section in the rule. Culturally responsive teachers and leaders will “Help students identify actions that can be taken to apply learning to develop opportunities and relationships for alliances…. Research and offer student advocacy and activism content with real world implications and [h]old high expectations in which all students can participate and lead as student advocates or activists.”
Mandatory thinking for teachers. The culturally responsive teacher and leader will “engage in reflection about their own actions and interactions and what ideas motivated those actions,” and “explore their own intersecting identities, how they were developed, and how they impact daily experience of the world.” Teachers must “assess their biases and perceptions” about, among other things, “unearned privilege, Eurocentrism, etc.”
Acceptance of the “system of oppression”thesis ubiquitous in today’s racial politics. “The culturally responsive teacher and leader will “[u]nderstand how the system of inequity has impacted them as an educator” and “understand how a system of inequity creates rules regarding student punishment that negatively impacts students of color.”
Rejection of objective truth. Culturally responsive teachers will “[u]nderstand and value the notion that multiple lived experiences exist, that there is not one ‘correct’ way of doing or understanding something, and that what is seen as ‘correct’ is most often based on our lived experiences.”
Stories of dogmatic, political bias in Illinois schools are now common. Parents and students are easy to find with examples of one-sided leftism being taught as fact, ridicule of students who dissent from progressive ideas and even grade penalties for right-of-center thinking.
This new, pending rule, however, would institutionalize that conduct. It would build on a 2017 state law mandating implicit bias training for Illinois teachers by assuring that such training, and more, is accepted and taught.
The pending rule has been harshly criticized by the Illinois Pro-Family Alliance and the Thomas More Society, a legal action group that sees First Amendment violations in the rule.
So far, ISBE is sticking with its proposal. “The Illinois State Board of Education stands by the proposed Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards, which were developed by educators for educators,” said Illinois State Board of Education spokesperson Jackie Matthews according to Center Square. “Every student deserves to feel welcome, included, and accepted at school and to see their cultural identity affirmed and represented in the curriculum. This feeling of belonging is critical to improving academic and behavioral outcomes for Illinois’ students.”
As reported by Illinois Capitol News, the proposed standards were first published in the Illinois Register on Sept. 11, opening up a 45-day public comment period that expired Oct. 25. The state board is scheduled to act on them at its Dec. 16 meeting. If the board approves them, the new rules would be published a second time, starting another 45-day period during which the proposed standards would be reviewed by the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR.
If approved by JCAR, the standards would become part of the standards by which all teachers and administrators are evaluated. They would also be incorporated into teacher preparation programs at college and university schools of education.
The proposed regulation would apply to how teachers are trained in Illinois to become licensed teachers. All public schools require licensed teachers, and many private schools prefer licensed teachers, although licensure in private schools is not legally required.
So far, I have seen no criticism of the rule beyond the above from the IFPA and Thomas More Society. The price of liberty, which is eternal vigilance, is going unpaid.
Make no mistake. The pending rule would be another major step in the conversion of education into state-controlled autocracy. It is a direct assault on free society.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.
UPDATE 11/21/20: The term “lesson plan” was deleted to avoid any unintended inference about where these proposed standards directly apply. They would apply both to candidates for a teacher license and to the programs that prepare them. They therefore relate directly to lesson plans for training teachers, but only indirectly to the lesson plans they use in K-12 education.