MADISON (WKOW) — On a pair of party line votes Tuesday, Assembly Republicans passed bills that would ban particular discussions of race and sex in K-12 education and in the training of state workers.
With very limited bipartisan support, the Republican-controlled body also passed bills mandating lessons on ethics and cursive writing.
The bills on race, which supporters pushed under the umbrella of “Critical Race Theory,” would ban incorporating race or sex stereotypes in a curriculum. The bills also outlaw any type of instruction that says a group of people today should feel responsible for what their ancestors did.
Democrats pushed back on the bills, arguing they went beyond the academically-accepted definition of Critical Race Theory (CRT), which officials from the UW System testified last week was confined to questioning how America’s history of racial discrimination colors modern law. The university officials said CRT is taught only in law schools and in graduate courses.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said if Critical Race Theory was already being kept out of K-12 classrooms, there was no reason to reject the bill.
“If people on the left say it’s never occurring, this is a red herring, it’s not happening, what is the harm in ensuring that we make every single person in the state realize we don’t want sexism, we don’t racism, we don’t want stereotyping taught in our schools,” Vos said.
Democrats countered with a list of terms the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego), included to his testimony in support of the bill. The terms, Wichgers said, either wholly or partially violate language in the proposal to outlaw CRT in K-12 schools. The list included terms like ‘unconscious bias’, ‘multiculturalism,’ and ‘cultural awareness.’
Rep. LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee) accused Republicans of trying to “defund” public education by passing a bill that would open up districts to lawsuits.
“This bill clearly outlines that any parent, anybody, can go in and say ‘oh, this looks like something that’s part of this list that you should not be teaching in schools. We will sue you,'” Myers said.
Republicans passed the race instruction bills on 60-38 party line votes. Evers is expected to veto the bills should they clear the Senate.
The bill mandating cursive lessons passed 59-39 with GOP representatives Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) and David Steffen (R-Green Bay) voting no while Myers was the lone Democrat who voted yes.
The bill requiring civics lessons passed 61-37 with Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D-Milwaukee) joining Republicans.