MADISON — As parents fight back against controversial curriculum such as critical race theory (CRT) and antiracism, the ACLU is putting Wisconsin schools on notice: Those who fail to teach the radical left lessons are breaking the law.
Nonsense, says a leading conservative attorney whose firm is helping lead the fight against the proliferation of racist critical race theory in Wisconsin schools.
In a “Dear District Administrator” letter sent last week, ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation Attorney Elizabeth Lambert notes that the far left legal organiziton “has learned” of efforts in Wisconsin school districts to ban critical race theory in the classroom and to “limit the ways that teachers can address issues of racial injustice with students.”
The purpose of the letter, Lambert asserts, is to remind every Wisconsin school district that state and federal law make districts responsible for teaching issues and concepts of race and diversity.
“Any district or school policy or practice must comply with these legal requirements,” wrote Lambert, Equal Justice Works Fellow for ACLU Wisconsin.
She cites Wisconsin statute, which mandates school districts must provide an instructional program that gives students “at all grade levels, an understanding of human relations, particularly with regard to American Indians, Black Americans, and Hispanics.”
But nowhere does the law state schools must teach students that America is systemically racist, governed by white supremacy, and that white people are inherently discriminatory against people of color.
“Whether or not one agrees with them, ‘Critical Race Theory’ and related concepts at issue here, as a legal matter, are not equivalent to or even necessary for an “understanding of human relations, particularly with regard to American Indians, Black Americans and Hispanics,” wrote Rick Esenberg, president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty in an open letter to Wisconsin school boards, administrators and concerned parents.
The letter is in response to ACLU’s veiled threats.
Esenberg wrote that critical race theory isn’t equivalent to or necessary for “teaching about ‘racial issues,’” as the ACLU attorney contends. Nor is it incumbent on districts to reflect the “cultural and pluralistic nature of American society.”
“To the contrary, these concepts are a particular political and ideological view of these matters. Nothing in state law compels that they be taught and there is no evidence that they enhance student performance. (Indeed, to the extent that they mischaracterize certain values and attributes as ‘white,’ they harm student performance.),” Esenberg wrote. “To the extent that the ACLU letter implies otherwise, it is bad and unsupported legal ‘advice.”
He argues that the ACLU letter isn’t merely wrong, it is “dangerously wrong.” While not all CRT-based training creates a hostile work environment, much of it does.
“Teaching children that they are complicit in ‘systems of oppression’ or have certain qualities or faults based on their color of their skin can create a hostile environment, as can pedagogical techniques that require students to act on or affirm these contentions,” Esenberg wrote. “Lawsuits have begun.”