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WI Plan to Ban Certain Race Teachings Sees Backlash

Under a proposed bill, Wisconsin schools would risk losing state aid if they taught certain concepts about racism.
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Under a proposed bill, Wisconsin schools would risk losing state aid if they taught certain concepts about racism.

MADISON, Wis. -- When the Wisconsin Senate resumes its session this month, it could take up a bill containing restrictions on teaching philosophies about race, but labor leaders in education say it falls short in being honest with students.

The bill, which cleared the state Assembly last week, would prohibit teachers from broaching subjects like systemic racism or white privilege. It's part of a national conservative movement to block language Republicans have aligned with Critical Race Theory.

Christina Brey, director of public affairs for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teacher's union, said the bill goes against the responsibility of schools to better explain the realities of the country students live in.

"We need to be honest in education about the challenges that we face and how we as a nation have overcome those challenges," Brey asserted. "Anything less would be lying to our children."

Republican leaders in the Legislature contend the concepts essentially promote the idea that one race is better than the other. Opponents say that's not the case, noting it is important for students to learn policies adopted in early U.S. history produced longstanding harm to certain races.

If it clears the Senate, the bill faces a likely veto from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Brey added lawmakers are trying to assert power over a profession many of them never have worked in.

"I think it also underlines the fact that an educator voice is missing in a lot of these conversations," Brey contended.

Opponents of the bills say the public needs to know Critical Race Theory itself is mainly found in college lecture halls, and is rarely taught in K-12 schools. Proposals similar to Wisconsin's have been signed into law in several other states, including Iowa.

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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