May 2, 2022 | MacIver News Service
It seemed like a big, inside joke.
A radical political activist shared a laugh with an official from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and Wisconsin public school teachers over Critical Race Theory (CRT), and the MacIver News Service caught it all on tape.
“I can tell you for sure [CRT] is not the most radical thing to come out. Wait until you hear what we really think, what we really believe in,” Charlene Carruthers declared that left everyone on the Zoom call laughing.
Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is not laughing. On Monday, May 2nd, he demanded to know what exactly Carruthers meant and why DPI thought it was so funny.
“What are these views that parents and the public would be surprised to learn DPI holds to and believes in?” Kapenga asked in a letter to State Superintendent Jill Underly.
This incident was not an isolated incident and Kapenga knows it. It was part of DPI’s Education Equity Leadership Series, which has given over two dozen radical thought leaders direct access to public educators throughout Wisconsin.
Carruthers got her opportunity to give a presentation on her book “Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements” in February. Most of that time was spent explaining why she believes police officers shouldn’t be in schools.
It’s not just the content of these seminars that is causing alarm. DPI is paying for it with money intended to support students with disabilities. The federal government gave DPI a $47.6 million American Rescue Plan (ARP) grant specifically for programs and services required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). One of those requirements, for example, is that schools must provide every disabled student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The 1990 law is mute on issues of social justice and white supremacy, yet somehow DPI believes those are appropriate expenses for the grant.
“How does this subject matter meet the stated purpose of IDEA: to make available ‘a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensure special education and related services to those children?’” Kapenga asked Underly.
He also wants to know how these seminars support DPI’s mission “to ensure that every child, regardless of zip code, has access to quality public education programs, enrichment opportunities, and special education supports, so that all of our kids can be successful?”
DPI’s Education Equity Leadership Series continues through this month. Out of 26 total speakers this year, only one will address students with disabilities – but it will be in the context of “radical and revolutionary” activism.Open-Letter-to-Jill-Underly