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Utah Board of Education receives hundreds of comments ahead of equity teaching decision

Posted at 9:44 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 11:44:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Board of Education will vote on whether to move forward as is or amend the board-approved rule that would set the standard for teaching equity, diversity, and inclusion in schools Thursday.

Educational Equity in Schools, Administrative Rule R277-328, has come with strong opinions on both sides. The board has received more than 300 pages of comment on the rule, includes more than 800 emails from people advocating various viewpoints during the 30-day public comment period, Mark Peterson, Public Relations Director for the Utah State Board of Education, said.

School board member Natalie Cline issued a call to action this week, asking people to email the school board in favor of her amendment to the rule.

In her 20-page amendment, Cline asked for several words and phrases to be banned when teaching about equity and diversity, including words such as "anti-racism," "empathy," "racial justice" and dozens more.

“Any of the following terms and concepts may, if taught through the framework of Critical Race Theory and other divisive concepts or other prohibited activities as defined, be a violation of this rule. This list of terms and concepts is non-exhaustive and applies to all terms or concepts that violate the provisions enacted herein,” the amendment reads in part. You can read the full amendment here.

Read - Utah State Board of Education rule on equity in schools needs changes, groups argue

Cline’s amendment has caused some backlash from civil-rights groups such as the NAACP.

“What she is telling people about critical race theory is not true, totally false. The idea of eliminating the words that Natalie Cline is talking about is totally ridiculous,” Jeanetta Williams, NAACP Salt Lake Branch President, said.

Many others, like parental choice advocate Britney Lindsey, are in support of Cline and have thanked her for her amendment.

“She is a complete defender for our kids and it’s not like she is saying parents can’t teach this in their own homes,” she said.

It is important for kids to be learning about equity, diversity, and inclusion in schools, Williams said.

“Let’s talk about history and let’s talk about American history and let’s make sure that children are being taught history in our classrooms and not having folks say that what they are teaching is racism, it is not at all,” she said.

When kids are sent to school, you expect them to learn math, English, science and other subjects, Lindsey said.

“When we send them to school, we don’t send them to school to be indoctrinated with certain politics, with certain stereotypes, we don’t send them to school for those reasons, we send them to school so they can be educated, so they can be scholars so they can be given the tools needed to progress in life,” she said.

The school board will vote to move forward with the rule as-is or approve amendments Thursday afternoon.

To read the rule as it stands now, click here.