Jillian Balow - University of Wyoming
Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow announced her resignation today, Jan. 13. Photo: Wyoming Department of Education

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Last month, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) proposed a critical race theory curriculum that would be implemented in K-12 schools across the country.

According to the Federal Register, these new programs would support efforts to improve several facets of American History and Civics Education. One of the two proposed priorities would be to support the development of culturally responsive teaching and learning for K-12 students.

The proposed priority is listed as “Projects That Incorporate Racially, Ethnically, Culturally, and Linguistically Diverse Perspectives into Teaching and Learning.”

The goal of this priority would be to incorporate teaching and learning practices that reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students to create inclusive, supportive, and identity-safe learning environments.

“The Department recognizes that COVID-19—with its disproportionate impact on communities of color—and the ongoing national reckoning with systemic racism have highlighted the urgency of improving racial equity throughout our society, including in our education system,” said the DOE.

Meanwhile, Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow, argued in a statement this morning that a curriculum as such is politically charged and an alarming move toward federal overreach.

“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,” said Balow.

Balow who affiliates with the Republican Party stated that educational curriculums should be ruled by a local consensus rather than a national one.

“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,” Balow said.

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.

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She's a lover of alliteration, easy-to-follow recipes and board games when everyone knows the rules. Her favorite aspect about living in the Tetons is the collective admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.