New Hampshire’s second-largest teachers’ union is angry over a state website that makes it easier for parents and students to report teachers for violating a law adopted in response to critical race theory.
Deb Howes, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Hampshire, accused Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut of launching a “war on teachers” that could lead to educators losing their licenses over unfounded claims under the state’s “divisive concepts” law, the Concord Monitor reported.
Howes called on Edelblut to step down “over his outrageous, obviously politically motivated, harmful effort.”
The Department of Education website, announced on Wednesday, was created in response to a law that prohibits teaching children that they’re inferior, racist, sexist or oppressive by virtue of their race, gender or other characteristics.
It was pitched as an effort to strengthen anti-discrimination laws, but critics say it aims to reject any discussion of systemic racism. A majority of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s diversity council quit after he signed the law in June.
The website allows a parent or student who believes a teacher has broken the law to submit an online form, which is sent to the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights for investigation.
In a statement, Edelblut said the website was created for parents and students to use in the “rare instance” in which someone believes someone is being treated unfairly in a classroom.
“We know that here in New Hampshire, teachers do their best to treat everyone equally, and genuinely strive to communicate with both dignity and respect,” he wrote.
But activist groups and other opponents see it differently.
The New Hampshire chapter of a national conservative parents’ organization tweeted, “We’ve got $500 for the person that first successfully catches a public school teacher breaking this law.”
The National Education Association New Hampshire, the state’s largest teachers’ union, believes the law is a solution in search of a problem.
“It underscores the concern that the law’s intent was to chill education about diversity, equity and inclusion and about learning past mistakes so they’re not repeated again,” said Brian Hawkins, the union’s government relations director.
Critical race theory has become a rallying cry for some conservatives who take issue with how schools have addressed diversity and inclusion. The theory is a way of analyzing American history through the lens of racism but is not itself a fixture of K-12 instruction.
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