Illinois committee could take up ‘Culturally Responsive’ teaching standards Wednesday

(The Center Square) – Controversial teaching standards that the Illinois State Board of Education has filed could come up Wednesday in a legislative committee.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules rescheduled its Tuesday meeting to Wednesday in Springfield. There could be a motion to block what ISBE calls “Culturally Responsive” teaching standards.

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, isn’t on the committee, but said he hears overwhelming opposition to the rules from his constituents.

“With two-thirds of the kids in elementary that are not meeting grade standards for math and English, and this is what we desire to deal with, I think that is the wrong move,” Halbrook said.

The standards range from having teachers assess “how their biases and perceptions affect their teaching practice and how they access tools to mitigate their own behavior (racism, sexism, homophobia, unearned privilege, Eurocentrism, etc.).”

It further states to address “systems of oppression,” a “culturally responsive teacher and leader” will “Be aware of the effects of power and privilege and the need for social advocacy and social action to better empower diverse students and communities.”

Other instructions for educators include:

“Create a risk-taking space that promotes student activism and advocacy.”“Embrace and encourage inclusive viewpoints viewpoints and perspectives.”“Implement and integrate the wide spectrum and fluidity of identities in the curriculum.”

Halbrook worried the standards may compel certain speech that some teachers may object to.

State Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, also isn’t on the committee, and didn’t see anything wrong with the proposed rules.

“I think we’re in an age where we have to be more culturally sensitive to the different groups, different individuals and different ethnicities that are out there,” Davis said.

The country is a melting pot, Davis said, “the culmination of all these great different people, it all comes together, so let’s start learning, really about the histories of the people that makes up the United States of America.”

State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, said there’s some misunderstandings about the standards she hears, but as a former school teacher she has a problem with putting more mandates on teachers.

“If it’s going to hinder us getting qualified teachers and substitutes, we need to look at it very seriously, whether this really should be a mandate or a suggestion,” Scherer said.

If JCAR doesn’t block the proposed rules, they’d go into effect in October 2025.

“As we help students recover from learning loss due to the pandemic, giving our teachers opportunities to learn about effective, equitable, and research-based strategies like cultural responsiveness could not be more important,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Every student deserves to feel welcomed, included and accepted at school.”

Statehouse Republicans have criticized the rules as a political litmus test.


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