AIM called for a public hearing on R277-328, the USBE’s ruling on “Educational Equity,” or better known as CRT in Utah’s classrooms.
We were the only parent organization to come out publicly against the ruling in the presentation portion of the hearing.
We used our time to expose CRT as an ideology that creates racial tensions and tries to solve for discrimination by creating more discrimination.
We also made public for the first time the news that USBE staff had used a secret advisory committee called ACEESS (whose membership had to meet strict race and sexual identity based quotas) to draft R277-328. ACEESS was created in 2016 by Superintendent Dickson to advise the USBE staff on drafting controversial equity policies that frequently influence or become board policy.
The Board, by a vote of 14-1, voted overwhelmingly to adopt R277-328, which gives the greenlight to equity, diversity, and inclusion policies that by default treat students as disadvantaged because they are classified as racial or ethnic minorities.
Two teens attending a northern Utah Charter school approached AIM at an October 2021 conference with their parents and a problem -- their high school was telling all students that they had to take a COVID-19 test or get vaccinated to attend a school dance. They knew this didn't sound right, and they sought out our help to prove it to their school.
After consulting a few sources, AIM drafted a letter for these determined girls. Upon the girls presenting it to their administrators, the policy was changed schoolwide. Buh-bye to the school's illegal test or vaccine requirement for the school dance, as it should be. It was a good victory for freedom, and AIM was glad take part in advocating for it.
AIM was given this assignment by a teenager at Herriman High. The assignment was for a Sociology class, for which there are no Utah core standards. So the teacher defaulted to using national standards, which include teaching culture from a Critical Race Theory-based perspective.
AIM was included in a meeting with the teacher and administrators by the student and parent rightfully upset over this assignment, which assumes that certain subjective and often random life experiences inherently give a person "privilege." Examples of these experiences are presented without meaningful context and many aren't even based in any established social science, like this oversimplified question from the assignment: "If your parents tell you that you can be anything you want to be, take one step forward."
Though the principal conceded that the assignment wouldn't be taught again, both he and the teacher said that the concepts of "privilege" and "inequality" and how to "overcome" them would continue to be taught, just not through this assignment but through "discussion."
Two takeaways: First, absent local standards, national standards for certain disciplines will be used. These standards can easily elevate divisive approaches like Critical Race Theory as the lens through which society should be viewed, not just as one among competing theories.
Second, even if a specific CRT-themed curriculum is banned in the classroom, a teacher can (and most likely will) simply find another way to present the same ideas to students through another less observable method, like discussion, which means the likelihood of parents knowing what's actually being taught in their kids' classrooms and how it's being taught is extremely low.