(The Center Square) – The top teacher in Wisconsin says it is important for all kids in Wisconsin to learn from the author who wants to “upend mainstream ideas about race, class and gender.”
State Superintendent Jill Underly on Monday responded to Sen. Chris Kapenga’s letter full of questions about a Critical Race Theory author and activist who spoke to teachers in the state back in February.
Kapenga asked Underly for an explanation as to why her office, the Department of Public Instruction, is focusing on race, class and gender while kids in Wisconsin schools fall further behind in reading, math and science scores.
“Equipping educators to teach with equity practices in order to eliminate gaps in opportunity and achievement is a responsibility DPI takes seriously, in part so they are able to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education to students with disabilities, as well as to decrease racial disproportionality in special education,” Underly wrote.
“At a time when our schools are failing our children, as reflected in the already low and declining proficiency rates we see across our state … I would think DPI and staff would be more focused on their mission to help raise student scores rather than creating activist, CRT, ‘leadership’ training for publically-paid teachers,” Kapenga wrote.
To which Underly responded: “The US Department of Education and DPI recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing racial disparities in education. DPI strives to provide a wide variety of perspectives through the Educational Equity Leadership Series.”
She continued: “DPI believes that all teachers must be equipped to teach diverse classrooms with an understanding of the current social context of Wisconsin, our country, and the world at large to ensure that every student is receiving what they need to succeed.”
This is not the first time that Underly has defended, or sided with, the effort to focus on race, class and gender in Wisconsin’s public schools.
Earlier this year she denounced efforts to move curriculum away from race, opposed the idea of banning sex-stereotyping in classrooms, and went on the record against Wisconsin’s proposed Parent’s Bill of Rights.