State-funded education website accused of promoting ‘erroneous left-wing, woke narrative’ in Nebraska

Nebraska’s education department was rebuked this week by state senators for using a taxpayer-funded website to promote Critical Race Theory. 

The Launch Nebraska website was envisioned as a…

Nebraska’s education department was rebuked this week by state senators for using a taxpayer-funded website to promote Critical Race Theory. 

The Launch Nebraska website was envisioned as a resource for assisting schools with reopening following pandemic shutdowns. Instead, it has been used by agenda-driven education bureaucrats to incorporate controversial social-justice “woke” concepts and procedures into the reopening process of Nebraska Public Schools, according to a group of state lawmakers. 

Sens. Steve Erdman, Steve Halloran and Dave Murman are calling for an investigation into the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) over the questionable content. 

“Public schools should educate children on the facts of history, not indoctrinate them with Critical Race Theory, which deliberately distorts these facts in order to push an erroneous left-wing, woke narrative about our nation’s founding, its history and its heritage,” said Erdman. 

“Due to the recent underhanded tactics of the Department of Education to reform Nebraska’s sex-ed curriculum, I believe an investigation into teaching CRT in Nebraska’s public schools is now warranted.” 

Erdman was referring to a failed attempt by the Nebraska State Board of Education to overhaul the state’s sex-ed curriculum with materials deeply offensive to many parents. The new standards were found to overtly promote LGBTQ ideologies. The insular and secretive behavior of the NDE throughout that initiative reflected poorly on the embattled department and its leadership, according to its critics. 

NDE spokesman David Jespersen told the Lincoln Journal Star that the legislators are mischaracterizing the availability of a particularly offensive document, an “organizing toolkit” titled “Winning Racial Justice in our Schools: Resisting Right Wing Attacks on Critical Race Theory.” 

Jesperson claimed the document was accessible through the website for only a few months at most and was not directly available on Launch Nebraska. 

The document was hosted on a third-party website that Launch Nebraska linked to, although that site, called “Culturally Responsible Education Hub,” has since taken down its link to the document without explanation. 

Despite the sudden disavowal of the material by the NDE following media reports on the subject, critics can still find many tenets of CRT championed by Launch Nebraska. 

Under the heading of “Professional Learning for Teachers and School Leaders,” for example, participants are exhorted to: 

Create a professional learning plan … that helps teachers: 

1. Build equity and anti-racist mindsets to ensure equitable learning environments.

2. Provide every student with equitable access to grade-level assignments and strong instruction by scaffolding and accelerating learning.

3. Create strong relationships and connections with students and cultivate high-trust classroom environments through Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). 

The inclusion of concepts such as “equity” and “anti-racism” in professional development materials endorsed and recommended by Launch Nebraska – concepts that find their origin in Critical Race Theory – reveals the continued presence of CRT despite the denials of NDE staffers. 

Under the “Professional Learning and Resources” page, a panoply of webinar materials is offered that support the CRT worldview.  

The Nebraska Department of Education also boasts numerous alliances with various education nonprofits, some of which offer professional development based on the same ideologies the Nebraska senators oppose. 

For example, UnboundEd describes its mission in unambiguous terms: “We envision a world in which educators actively work together to dismantle systemic racism by providing grade-level, engaging, affirming, and meaningful instruction.” 

The Nebraska Legislature is not in session at the moment, and re-election campaigns are in full swing. Requests for comment were not immediately answered by the senators involved. 

With the election only weeks away, it’s unlikely any formal investigation will be launched until the beginning of the upcoming legislative session in January of 2023.