- A Wisconsin education official wrote a public letter criticizing politicians for “pitting parents against teachers” despite the fact that her own election campaign was supported largely by left-leaning political actors.
- Wisconsin State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly wrote an open letter, “as a fellow parent and a former teacher” condemning politicians who “have gone after teachers” to micromanage curricula and prey on parents’ emotions in an open letter for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) addressed to the state’s families and educators.
- “I’m really, really tired of politicians pitting parents against teachers when our children are the ones who get hurt in the end,” the superintendent, whose election campaign received over $1.1 million from political action committees (PACs) and interest groups, concluded.
I am writing this letter to you as a fellow parent and a former teacher because I’m tired of politicians pitting parents against teachers when our children are the ones who get hurt in the end. https://t.co/ufnuYjTWbp #wiedu
— Dr. Jill Underly, WI State Superintendent (@drjillunderly) February 11, 2022
A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund, which the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) describes as “an outside electioneering group first created in 2020 to back Democratic and liberal candidates” spent over $780,000 supporting Underly’s campaign.
Donors to Underly’s campaign who provided between $5,000 and $20,000 included Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin Political Fund, the “liberal leaning group” Blue Sky Waukesha, Inc., “social and environmental justice group” Many Stones Consulting, education equity group Higher Expectations, climate change advocacy group the Brico Fund and Red Hat Inc., according to the WDC.
Educational consultant Deborah Kerr, who lost to Underly in the April 2021 election, was backed by conservative donors such as the American Federation for Children Action Fund – Wisconsin IE Committee, which supports school voucher programs in Wisconsin and around the country, and the Rebecca PAC, which was created by former Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, according to the WDC.
Underly ran on an “Educational Equity for All” platform, which she described as a “vision for PK-12 public education in Wisconsin … rooted in equity,” according to her campaign website. She pledged to establish “a cabinet-level officer in DPI Administration that will oversee the equity work” in the agency in addition to school district programming.
Parents fighting against the implementation of CRT have denounced “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) efforts as a tenet of CRT.
The primary tenets of CRT “carry forward the racially based education and political ideology as well as psychologically manipulative curriculum,” Scott Mineo, a Virginia parent and founder of Parents Against Critical Race Theory (PACT) previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Underly said one of her “passions” is “equity audits,” which she described as a way to “identify areas that are not working for all kids, or areas that need additional resources to make them truly equitable for our students.”
Equity audits have been criticized by parents and concerned community members at school districts across the country. Third-party companies often distribute equity audits or surveys to collect student data, which equity consultants then analyze to implement race-based equity practices and policies in public schools.
In some instances, students are asked to complete the surveys without the consent of their parents. For example, a fourth grade student in Minnesota was told not to tell her parents about an “equity survey” she and her classmates were instructed to take at school or “repeat any of the questions to … any other adult in her life.”
A “Consultant Report Card” compiled by Parents Defending Education (PDE) details hundreds of public school districts and agencies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia that have hired diversity, equity and inclusion consultants. Public schools across the U.S. have paid millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to equity consultants “to push divisive ideologies” and transform American schools “from institutions of education to places of woke indoctrination,” according to PDE analysis.
When reached for comment, the Wisconsin DPI told the DCNF that “parents and teachers alike support Dr. Underly thanks to her experience in our schools and her dedication to our state’s children.”
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