The Becker School Board tabled a policy resolution Monday night that would prohibit “political indoctrination” in district classrooms.
Left-wing groups such as Education Minnesota and the ACLU took issue with the resolution’s prohibition on “inherently divisive concepts.”
Local union co-president Ben Pany said he was “taken aback” by “how far the policy’s reach would be.”
“It seems unconstitutional. It seems unpatriotic and runs counter to the district’s vision of ‘preparing self-directed learners to thrive in a changing global community,’” he told the school board Monday.
“What about promoting students’ further education? College pendants would be off limits too as they show that personal bias towards that institution. This policy bans not only staff but students as well for personal bias. As written, we would have to remove students for wearing anything religious, such as vacation Bible study T-shirts, pro-Second Amendment, Vikings vs. Packers, anything pro-Trump, anything political would need to be removed,” he continued.
Minnesota’s chapter of the ACLU objected to the proposed policy in a letter to the board, saying it “would significantly interfere with the First Amendment rights of students.”
“In addition to being overbroad in its regulation of constitutionally protected speech, proposed Policy 471 is vague, leaving students, school staff and school administrators to guess at what speech the policy permits and what it prohibits,” the letter said.
“If enacted, proposed policy 471 will also undermine the District’s efforts to promote equity, inclusion and belonging. The policy purports to ensure fairness and equity; but instead of encouraging learning, proposed policy 471 will effectively gag educators and students from talking about issues of the most profound national importance, such as the impact of systemic racism in our society,” it continued.
The policy itself states that Becker classrooms are to remain free of “political indoctrination” and “inherently divisive concepts.”
It clearly defines what constitutes an “inherently divisive concept” as anything that violates Title IV or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race and sex.
The board provides this example of an inherently divisive concept: “an individual, by virtue of his or her race, sex, or faith, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.”
This is a core concept of critical race theory, according to Christopher Rufo, an expert on the topic and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
The board decided to table discussions of the policy pending a legal review.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin enacted a similar ban on “inherently divisive concepts” via executive order on his first day in office.