A lieutenant governor in Idaho has two basic constitutional functions – to preside over the Senate when the Legislature is in session and to serve as acting governor when the boss is out of state.
The job description does not include putting together a rogue task force, which Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is doing to look into the social indoctrination and the teaching of social justice in Idaho schools. With McGeachin leading the way, there’s fear from the right that our education system is being destroyed with the teachings of critical race theory (CRT), socialism, Communism and Marxism.
If you talk with your local superintendent about the teaching of CRT, chances are you’d get a blank stare, along with a question about what in the heck is CRT. One longtime superintendent I know had to google-search CRT to find out what the Statehouse politicians are talking about.
This uproar is not coming from the governor’s office, although Gov. Brad Little has not done anything to derail the rhetoric from the Idaho Freedom Foundation and others. McGeachin, meanwhile, has captured the narrative on this issue.
“We must find where these insidious theories and philosophies are lurking and excise them from our education system,” McGeachin said in a news release. “Idahoans are increasingly frustrated by the apparent lack of awareness and leadership coming from the state on these issues.”
McGeachin has a generous amount of support for her cause.
“I appreciate the lieutenant governor taking the initiative to push back against the flawed concept that white people are inherently racist and that our young people should be made to feel guilty for actions they have never committed and biases they have never displayed,” said Rep. Priscilla Giddings of White Bird.
According to Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, the CRT “is being used to divide our nation and create great distrust and even hate among the races of people who make up our melting pot of Americans. Students are being taught to feel guilty and ashamed of their identity, gender, religion, or economic status.”
Words such as “equity,” “inclusion” and “diversity” have “a different meaning under CRT than what most Americans understand,” says Boyle. “Using schools or government to force and pay for the destruction of our society should not be tolerated by anyone. Much of the unrest and violence we have seen across America this past year has CRT roots.”
Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation has weighed in on the issue, saying “Our free society is under attack and the education system is the conduit for that attack. We cannot sit by and watch the demise of our country via the calculated effort to brainwash Idaho’s young people.”
As McGeachin points out in her release, Idaho is not alone in the fight against CRT. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged that his state’s curriculum will “expressly exclude” the teachings. Arkansas is considering a bill that would prohibit public schools from offering “a course, class, event, or activity within its program of instruction that … promotes division between, resentment of, or social justice for race; gender; political affiliation; social classes; or particular class of people.”
Also, McGeachin isn’t the only lieutenant governor appointing an education task force to examine the issue. Mark Robinson, North Carolina’s first black lieutenant governor, says parents and teachers in his state “are literally afraid to speak up against school boards, against principals, against administrators, and folks – that has got to stop.”
As an example of bias, or indoctrination, Robinson said a student wanted to do a report on him for Black History Month, but the teacher rejected the idea, suggesting instead that the student write about rapper Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in a drive-by shooting five years ago.
I’m not sure that the student would have much better luck in Idaho, given the recent brand of political correctness. If folks to the right had their way, there would be no celebration of things like Black History Month, unless it’s balanced with something else – such honoring the accomplishments of white politicians.
Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org