What's WRONG with the Waukee "Equity Standards"
In August of 2020, the Waukee School Board voted to implement the Waukee Equity Standards in an effort to provide "common language and organizational structure to help reduce prejudice and advocate for positive change" in our schools. According to the Waukee website, teachers will use these standards to guide classroom discussions and learning opportunities to "make our schools more inclusive and safe." No system-wide emails or mass communication efforts were made to educate or invite parents into the development of these standards.
On June 8, 2021, Governor Reynolds signed into law House File 802, an Act establishing specific requirements related to racism and sexism trainings, and diversity and inclusion efforts by, conducted by state governmental entities, including Iowa’s public post secondary educational institutions.
The Act prohibits schools from conducting mandatory staff or student trainings that teach, advocate, act upon, or promote specific prohibited defined concepts related to “race or sex scapegoating” or any other form of “race or sex stereotyping.”
The Act explains that prohibited “race or sex scapegoating” includes “assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex, or claiming that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of persons’ race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others.”
The act explains that prohibited “race or sex stereotyping” includes “ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex.”
In response, WCSD posted a footnote to the Equity Standards online that revisions are in process to "reflect changes based on HF802 estimated to be completed in August 2021." At the WCSD Board Meeting on Monday, July 26, 2021, the revised Equity Standards were discussed. You can watch a livestream of the entire meeting HERE.
News of the Equity Standards spread quickly among Waukee parents, and the Board is set to vote on the Revisions at the next meeting, held Monday, August 9th. There's no doubt the Board had good intentions when the Standards were originally passed, new information has come to light - plus more parents have had time to examine what's in these Standards - which has sounded ALARM BELLS for many concerned Waukee parents and community members. A few of these concerns are outlined below (this will be updated when the revised standards are published):
Origin of the Standards
It was reported by one of the WCSD Board Members that the Equity Standards currently posted online were copied word-for-word from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Waukee parents who since visited the SPLC website are very disturbed by the content. It appears the SPLC is an activist group with extreme political and social agendas. One of the resources on the SPLC website is called "HATE WATCH," where organizations are identified as "hate groups" simply for having different values and ideals. Many of these so-called "hate groups" are churches, charities and religious leaders like the late Rev. Billy Graham. Why would the Waukee School Board use and adopt Equity Standards developed by such a controversial organization?
Coincidence or consequence, its hard to know for sure...but several Waukee parents and students have reported incidents over the past 12 months that are - frankly - UNACCEPTABLE! Since the Equity Standards were passed by the Board, a handful of emboldened teachers from Waukee have made headlines and gone viral for pushing their political and social ideology, for example:
a 2nd grade teacher read a book and showed a video to her entire class stating "all cops hate and kill black people" ;
a 5th grade teacher read a book to his students about "gender misidentification" and how to discuss it with their parents; and
a high school teacher posted a selfie calling an Iowa elected official an extremely foul name (hand gestures included) because she didn't agree with lifting the mask mandate.
We can't be certain these incidents are a direct result of the Equity Standards adopted by Waukee, however, its the first time many Waukee parents recall being so horrified and embarrassed by the behavior of Waukee faculty members. Concerned parents are also anxious to know if the teachers involved in these incidents were terminated, or at least subject to disciplinary action. Parents have a right to know.
The Standards Are Complex and Confusing
The Equity Standards are comprised of 4 major categories, with sub-sections and action statements that are written to be "age-appropriate." Several parents took the time to dissect and discuss every word in the Standards to provide feedback to the Board, seeking clarification or perhaps consideration for an opportunity to draft a new set of Standards that are straightforward, achievable and more broadly aligned with the values of Waukee community. The responses from several of the Board Members have been disappointing, as if they're unwilling to listen to the parents and taxpayers in our community.