Kansas parent wins fight against school’s ‘social justice’ curriculum

Kirsten Workman, the Lansing mom who withdrew her 12th-grade daughter from an English Composition class over content she found objectionable and mounted a curriculum challenge to the material offered in the course, won her dispute at a recent Board of Education meeting.

In a narrow 4-3 vote, the Lansing BOE sided with Workman, rejecting earlier findings by the administration and a review committee that the material was acceptable in the course on expository writing.

She had cited this content as objectionable:

  • The Laramie Project — A play about the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd
  • We Should All Be Feminists — A book billed as a non-academic defense of feminism.
  • 13th — Advertised as “a powerful documentary that addresses racial issues confronting America in 2016.”

Board Member Amy Cawvey offered the motion to remove the Social Justice 5-week Unit and content from the English Language Arts curriculum. Afterward, she praised the effort of Workman:

“I commend the parent for having the courage to come forward. Unfortunately, as seen in the public comment portion of our meeting, she faced many attacks for her decision.  We need to set a better example for our children and stop attacking each other just because we might not agree. “

She added:

“I would like to thank the committee and parent for their viewpoints on this matter. I do not think feminist and social justice studies that contain elements of Critical Race Theory belong in our ELA curriculum or any Lansing curriculum for that matter.  I know there is a push to add social justice, CRT, and gender theory, among others, to ELA across the country. I do not agree with this, and I have heard from many constituents and parents who also do not agree.

“This is not about one parent objecting but one parent with the courage to come forward and for which she has been attacked. The final decision does not lie with one teacher, one administrator, or one parent. The board received the report, but the final decision lies with the elected school board members who, by the votes of our community, are elected to serve as their representatives. We, as a board, might or might not all agree on this, but in the end, that is why we are here. Other suitable curriculum choices can be made that can still provide an excellent education and meet or exceed Kansas State standards.”

Mrs. Workman said her effort and the personal attacks along the way were worth it:

“I’m overjoyed with the board’s decision. This district’s administration worked hard to exercise great control over the dialogue. I’m grateful that in spite of those efforts, the board was able to cut through all the political noise and see the heart of the issues at hand: ensuring our children receive unbiased teaching using high-quality curricular materials.”

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