Add your name. Oppose classroom censorship

Oppose Classroom Censorship in South Dakota

Imagine learning about Christopher Columbus but not being able to talk about the experiences of the Indigenous people already living on the land. Or being a high school history teacher and not being allowed to use terms like "systemic racism" to teach about slavery and its longstanding impacts that perpetuate discrimination for Black people today.

In some states across the country, this isn't just a hypothetical situation. It's happening.

At least a dozen states, including Montana and North Dakota, have taken state-level action or passed legislation to ban critical race theory, a high-level academic framework mostly used by legal scholars to examine how policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism.

What was once an obscure concept, however, is now a catchall term for any discussion of race or gender or topics that make some people uncomfortable. And it's natural that many will interpret a ban on critical race theory to mean a ban on discussing or raising issues of race or gender in the classroom at all. Preventing discussion about race and racism like this is harmful to all students – but particularly for students of color. All students deserve access to culturally relevant teaching, equitable resources, and a safe learning environment. It is also an affront to free speech, a value and a right that should be held in the highest regard. Anything less is classroom censorship, pure and simple.

We don't want to see this happen here, too. Add your name to our list of people who oppose classroom censorship in South Dakota.

In the past few months, there has been a proliferation of efforts across the country to restrict the teaching of so-called "divisive concepts." This nationwide push is part of a concerted and coordinated effort to limit teacher and student rights, free speech, and hinder the discussion of topics that make some people uncomfortable

Every student should have the right to receive an equitable education and have an open and honest dialogue about America's history, race and gender issues. Education is a tool of empowerment put to its highest use when teachers and students are given the full scope of their constitutional rights to engage in comprehensive, meaningful, and sometimes difficult conversations.

Equal access to learning about our country's history – the good, the bad, and the ugly – in our educational institutions is important. Add your name to the list of people who oppose efforts to censor academic discussions in South Dakota public school classrooms.