Iowa vital race concept docs present educators pushed program earlier than state ban: ‘Indoctrination not training’
Iowa has declared critical racial theory to be “discriminatory indoctrination,” and a ban is due to go into effect in just over a week – but leaked documents show that a major education agency designed to support students with special needs is holding workshops to implement the controversial program when the legislature finally made the ban.
Iowa’s nine regional education authorities are tasked with advising public schools and some private schools that focus primarily on special education services, which, according to the AEA’s website, make up about 80% of their budget.
They also provide support for the wider student body, mental health services, and resources for teachers.
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However, in the April and May presentations by the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency entitled “MBAEA Equity Department Meetings: Anti-Racism,” the authors of critical racial theory Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi were heavily cited.
Iowa’s ban on Critical Theory of Race was enacted on June 8 by the Kim Reynolds Republican government and will take effect on July 1.
“This is indoctrination, not education,” Reynolds said of CRT. “And that is exactly why I took steps to ban the teaching of divisive concepts and critical racial theory in Iowa schools. Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
Slide 8 listed a number of topics as “covert white supremacy” and “socially acceptable” – including “Police Murdered POC (People of Color),” in celebration of Columbus Day, or the phrase “Make America Great Again.”
The idea that Americans can pull themselves up on the “bootstraps” and improve their lives was also listed there – as was the concept of color blindness and the “denial of white privilege”.
“Make America Great Again is the belief that all Americans and Iowans can make the American dream come true,” said Iowa Senate President Senator Jake Chapman, who supported the CRT ban. “Unfortunately we have parts of our educational institutions that indoctrinate students.”
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Calling critical race theory “a step backwards,” he cited former President Donald Trump’s economic successes to deny the idea that the campaign slogan should be on the slide.
“President Trump has done far more for minorities than any other president,” he said. “This AEA has practically neglected these indisputable facts and instead offers left-wing extremist views.”
Another slide shows that the organizers expected to issue an “anti-racism” statement on behalf of the MBAEA by late spring. A draft of the statement was hidden on Tuesday, and it was not immediately clear whether it would even be released after the CRT ban.
Critics have compared such statements to oaths of loyalty from the McCarthy era, which unfairly turn employment and recruitment practices into a political litmus test.
Minutes after Fox News asked the agency to comment on the documents, the owners revoked public access. The MBAEA did not respond to the first request for comment or a follow-up question about why the documents had been hidden.
According to an attendance list obtained from Fox News, at least 142 MBAEA employees attended the seminars. Most of them were listed as speech pathologists and social workers.
Fox News reached out to dozens of people on the list but did not receive immediate comment.
The agency held these workshops in a deeply conservative state where there is widespread opposition to programming critical racial theory.
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“I am against critical racial theory – we should have productive and empathetic conversations that will move our country forward, but that would take our country back in time and divide us further,” said MP Ashley Hinson. “As a mother of two school children in Iowa, I’m glad Governor Reynolds banned critical racial theory in our schools.”
Three of the state’s four seats, including Hinsons, are Republican-controlled, as are both Senate seats.
“There is no way we should indoctrinate our children into judging one another by color, gender, or sexual identity, and I’m glad Governor Reynolds took steps to prevent this.” Senator Joni Ernst told Fox News on Tuesday night.
Both houses of the state legislature are also controlled by the GOP, paving the way for banning critical racial theory, declaring the CRT “discriminatory indoctrination” and preventing state and local governments from ordering employees or students to attend training courses.
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“Examples like this are exactly why House Republicans took action and banned the teaching of these divisive concepts in Iowa schools,” said Pat Grassley, spokesman for the Iowa House of Representatives. “We have heard from countless parents with these concerns about political indoctrination in their child’s school.”
Grassley, the grandson of Sen. Chuck Grassley, also helped pass the state’s CRT ban.
“Critical Race Theory teaches students to name, stereotype, and demonize people based on race, gender, or sexual identity rather than judging people based on character,” he added. “We cannot fight racism with more racism.”
Fox News’ Andrew Murray and Dejaris Holt contributed to this report.