BOISE, Idaho — Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s Education Task Force met for the final time Thursday, focusing on public comment and wrapping up with recommendations for the Legislature and State Board of Education.
The public comments were mixed — but passionate — with some voicing opposition to critical race theory and others voicing opposition to the task force itself.
The last meeting of Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s Education Task Force has started. She says 18 people have signed up to testify before the task force today. They’re limited to sharing a personal experience or recommendation. pic.twitter.com/28Kl6NHy03— Anna Azallion (@annaazallion) August 26, 2021
Many shared personal experiences. One man described his experience in school in the American South during the 1960s. He said they were taught ideas that aligned with the Ku Klux Klan.
Then he asked the task force a pointed question, “What makes you folks any different than those people in the south in the 60s?”
Another woman who is a woman of color shared her experience and her opposition to critical race theory.
"I'm also here to say that I do not support Jim Crow — I call it Jim Crow — CRT and I believe that CRT is the new Jim Crow. This is the new form of segregation, and my family will not stand for it."
One woman compared critical race theory to gaslighting.
“Critical Race Theory, in particular, seems to have co-opted language which causes confusion and leads people to believe fundamental lies about themselves and those around them,” she said.
Critical Race Theory has not been officially defined by the task force. Even across the country, many people mean different things when they talk about critical race theory.
In Thursday's meeting, a Boise High School junior said he doesn’t think teachers are indoctrinating students. He also brought up the fact the meeting with public testimony is taking place when area schools are back in session.
“It almost seems as if you’re silencing our voices when they are some of the ones that matter the most when it comes to our education,” he said.
Two of his friends came about an hour and a half into the meeting and could not testify because they hadn't been there at the beginning of the meeting to sign up.
McGeachin says silencing student's voices is not the task force's intention.
The task force ultimately made six recommendations to the state legislature:
- "Modify TITLE 33 EDUCATION, CHAPTER 1 (STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION) by repealing section 33-138 and 33-139 and replace it with new language, conforming to the Idaho State Constitution, which relates to racist or sexist concepts being taught in public schools."
- "Recommend to the State Board of Education and the Department of Education that they identify and resolve administrative rules which are in conflict with Article 9, Section 6 of the Idaho Constitution."
- Make recommendations to the legislature to develop laws that prohibit the use of federal grant funds, including but not limited to, the proposed Biden Rule (CFR 34), which promotes the practice of Critical Theories, or any educational model which promotes race-based stereotypes and biases, or makes claims that any particular race or American system is inherently racist."
- "Invite a member of the Senate and House Education Committees to work with members of the Education Task Force to develop more specific policies for the upcoming legislative session."
- "Submit written testimony to the State Board of Education Committees to work with members of the Education Task Force to develop more specific policies for the upcoming legislative session."
- The Education Task Force supports education choice for Idaho parents. One example of education choice is that the Legislature should direct the State of Idaho to establish an Education Savings Account (ESA) for each school-aged child in Idaho. With an ESA, each parent/legal guardian of a school-aged child receives a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts - accessible via debit card - with restricted uses. Permissible expenses may include enrollment in a public charter or district school, private school tuition, tutoring services, homeschooling expenses, online learning programs, community college costs, saving for college, or other approved customized learning services and materials."
McGeachin also said the task force will continue to have conversations about these recommendations.