Over the past few years, parents across our nation have awoken to the disturbing reality of our public education system. From kindergarten-age onward, schoolchildren are regularly taught lessons steeped in Critical Race Theory, radical gender theory, diversity, equity, and inclusion groupthink, and lectured on the evils of “systemic racism.”
The Freedom Center has long worked to loosen the Left’s iron grasp on public education with our Stop K-12 Indoctrination campaign and our proposed Code of Ethics for K-12 Public School Teachers, but we cannot enact changes alone. We have been aided by the actions of state legislators across our nation who have introduced legislation to protect parents’ rights and to outlaw indoctrination in our K-12 classrooms.
Now, one courageous State Representative from Maine has defied the Democrat-led legislature’s subservience to the education establishment to introduce a version of the Freedom Center’s Code of Ethics in her state.
This spring, Representative Katrina J. Smith, a Republican from Palermo, introduced LD 1589, a bill “Directing the Department of Education to Adopt Rules Prohibiting Teachers in Public Schools from Engaging in Political, Ideological and Religious Advocacy in the Classroom.”
The legislation directs the State Board of Education to “adopt rules prohibiting teachers in public schools from engaging in political, ideological or religious advocacy in the classroom” and adds that “Rules adopted under this resolve must be clear and provide enforcement mechanisms for appropriate and professional ethical behavior by teachers licensed in the State in tax-supported schools to prohibit teachers from using the classroom to engage in political, ideological or religious advocacy.”
Specific provisions of the bill prohibit public school educators from “Endorsing, supporting or opposing any candidate or nominee for public office,” “Introducing any controversial issue that is not germane to the topic of the course being taught,” “Advocating in a partisan manner for any side of a controversial issue,” and also “Segregating students according to race or singling out one racial group of students as responsible for the suffering or inequities experienced by another racial group of students”—a clause that would eliminate the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the classroom.
Representative Smith graciously took the time to speak with the Freedom Center about her motivations for introducing the bill and why it is so necessary for conservatives to fight these battles to preserve our public schools as non-partisan institutions of learning.
“Maine is just a hotbed of everything happening in the country overall,” explained Smith, “But with the support of our Democrat supermajority [in the Maine Legislature] we don’t find anyone being held accountable for the wrong actions teachers are taking within the classroom.”
“I have boys that are just finishing high school now and a daughter that went through high school as well recently and it’s absolutely happening in Maine and no one is being held accountable for what they are doing in their classroom,” Representative Smith added. “It’s definitely as big a problem in little old Maine as it is in the larger cities. You just don’t think of it in Maine.”
Despite the Democrat supermajority in the Maine legislature, Rep. Smith was able to achieve a hearing on her bill although predictably the usual suspects affiliated with the teachers’ unions did their best to defeat it.
“There’s definitely opposition from the talking heads of the curriculum association and the education association, people speaking out, saying that they’ll be stifling free speech if something like this was to go through,” Smith noted, though others showed up to express support for the bill despite the last-minute scheduling of the hearing which made it difficult to round up supporters in time.
“They did lump it together with curriculum transparency bills, and that’s not really what this bill talks about,” she explained. “We’re not taking books out of the library, or anything like that, we’re just holding teachers accountable.”
Now that the bill has had a hearing, Smith explained, it will head to work session where the committee will discuss it and potentially make amendments, although given the Democrat-led committee’s hostility to the bill, she is concerned that they might try to water it down. She hopes that the bill will make it to the house floor in the coming weeks and she is eager to give a floor speech in support of the legislation.
“This is the number one thing I ran on in my campaign,” Smith said, “Getting politics and indoctrination out of the classroom.”
Asked whether she thinks the issue of classroom indoctrination made a difference in recent elections, she was emphatic that it did. “I think it did in places where races were actually close….When people spoke out against [classroom indoctrination], they got elected. When they were not brave enough to speak out about things like this, they lost.”
Read the full text of Rep. Smith’s bill, LD 1589, HERE and read the Freedom Center’s proposed Code of Ethics for K-12 Public School Teachers HERE. Order the Freedom Center’s new pamphlet “Leftist Indoctrination: The New Curriculum in our K-12 Public Schools” HERE.