NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Critical Race Theory in the state of North Dakota is defined as, “the theory that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.”
Thursday, a meeting was held to address proposed changes that allow for academic transparency on the subject of “Critical Race Theory” in K-12 schools.
In short, House Bill 1508 bans teaching that racism is systemically embedded in American society and contributes to inequality.
But is that really clear? And is that being enforced?
The law is dried in ink, so what do the people want to see moving forward then?
“DPI needs to take a much stronger role in this and take the leadership that they are given by the nature of the department. They also need to rethink how they go about applying what’s going to be required as necessary standards,” said North Dakota State Senator, Michael Wobbema.
“Bring clarity as to what that is, because we don’t want confusion as to when the gender issue comes up and when critical race theory comes up,” said Bismarck resident, Coty Sicble.
“You could at least send somebody there from the DPI to investigate,” former Superintendent of Kensal, Tom Tracy said.
“I would like to see the North Dakota DPI take proactive steps towards influencing equitable education for all children in our schools,” said Lorraine Davis.
“Get a stronger and more precise definition, because some people are saying it’s just a college course. Some people are saying, ‘No, they are incorporating it into kindergarten and first grade through SEL.’ We need some more black-and-white definitions on what it does and does not include,” said Bismarck resident, Jan Wangler.
“Everybody in this room isn’t against teaching our past history to our kids. Whether good or bad about our country, it needs to be taught right along with morals, ethics, and values of this great country. You make conservatives feel good, because you put it down on paper. And you made liberals happy by not enforcing it. If you can’t enforce the law, don’t make it. Don’t teach it. Period,” Fargo Business Owner, Jodi Plecity said.
DPI’s superintendent Kiersten Baesler was not in attendance for Thursday’s meeting as seven committee members sat on behalf of the department.
In the last interview with Baesler, she made her position regarding the issue quite clear.
“The department nor the state superintendent do not have the authority to overturn or strengthen any law that has passed. So, we were directed to write administrative rules for the implementation for our locally elected school board leaders to use, as they are responsible for the implementation of the laws of North Dakota,” said Baesler.
Community members are requesting more details and reinforcement of the ban as well.
A total of 20 people gave public comments at the meeting.
Jim Upgren from the Department of Instruction says that anyone who wishes to make any comments will have until 5 p.m. on Monday, September 19 to submit comments.
All will be contacted about changes if any are made.