States

How a Website to Complain About Teachers Is Fueling the Critical Race Theory Fight

By The Associated Press — November 15, 2021 2 min read
Frank Edelblut speaks at the Statehouse in Concord, N.H. on Jan. 31, 2017, during a public hearing on his nomination to lead the state's education department. As first-term Gov. Chris Sununu builds out his cabinet of commissioners, he's tapped some appointees with little to no professional experience in the departments they're tasked with leading. For education, he tapped Edelblut, a businessman who homeschooled his children.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.”

See Also

Image of books.
iStock/Getty
Curriculum A 'War on Books': Conservatives Push for Audits of School Libraries
Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2021
12 min read

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.

Related Tags:

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Opinion 5 Takeaways for Education From Virginia's Governor Race
In an election where K-12 schooling was widely seen as the central issue, Glenn Youngkin’s victory has important implications for schools.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
States Anxiety Over Schools Fired Up Voters This Year. What About 2022?
Election results from Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere suggest educators and schools will be firmly in the spotlight next year.
10 min read
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin holds a broom as he greets supporters at an election night party in Chantilly, Va., early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, after he defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, holds a broom as he greets supporters at an election night party in Chantilly, Va., after he defeated Democratic challenger Terry McAuliffe.
Andrew Harnik/AP
States How One Governor's Race Has Channeled National and Local Anger Over Schools
Virginia's gubernatorial candidates are fighting over everything from parents' roles to banning books. Is this a preview of 2022 elections?
8 min read
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, left, gestures a he talks with supporters during a rally in Culpeper, Va., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. Youngkin faces former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the November election.
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, left, talks with supporters during a rally in Culpeper, Va. Youngkin faces former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the November election.
Steve Helber/AP
States ‘Hateful’: White House Blasts Texas’ Pending Restriction on Transgender Student Athletes
Abbott hasn’t said when he’ll sign House Bill 25 into law, but there’s no doubt he will, having pressed for the trans sports ban all year.
Todd J. Gillman, The Dallas Morning News
3 min read
Claudia Carranza, of Harlingen, hugs her son, Laur Kaufman, 13, at a rally against House Bill 25, a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls school sports, outside the Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.
Claudia Carranza, of Harlingen, hugs her son, Laur Kaufman, 13, at a rally against House Bill 25, a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls school sports, outside the Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP