Editors’ note: The following op-ed is by Lawrence Lockman, a Republican who served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives from 2012 to 2020. He is co-founder and president of the conservative non-profit Maine First Project – which trains activists and candidates to fight fire with fire. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maine parents who want Critical Race Theory and other noxious species of political indoctrination banished from their K-12 public schools were counting on Republican state legislators to help them push back against the Left’s malignant agenda.
What a shock to the parents when those lawmakers slapped them across their faces last week.
For the second time in as many years, the Maine Legislature is considering a bill to enact a statewide Code of Ethics for K-12 teachers in public schools. The proposal, based on model legislation drafted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, would explicitly ban singling out one racial group of students as responsible for the suffering or inequities experienced by another racial group of students. In addition, teachers would be required to refrain from partisanship, and present both sides in any discussion of controversial issues.
How’s that for a revolutionary proposal?
During the public hearing earlier this month, the Education committee heard compelling testimony from scores of Mainers who are disgusted with the rampant racial stereotyping and racial scapegoating that goes on in public school classrooms. If there were ever any lingering doubts that the racist, anti-American, Marxist ideology known as Critical Race Theory is deeply embedded in Maine’s public schools, the public hearing blew those doubts away.
The heart-felt, fact-based testimony came from parents in school districts across the state, imploring legislators to pass LD 550, “Resolve, Directing the State Board of Education To Adopt Rules Prohibiting Teachers in Public Schools from Engaging in Political, Ideological or Religious Advocacy in the Classroom.”
Eighty-four percent of the 78 pieces of testimony submitted to the committee were in support of the bill, from Mainers in 40 different towns.
The opposition testimony came almost exclusively from Leftist institutional swamp critters, not from parents. The teachers’ union and the ACLU of Maine were among the most vocal, joined by a far-Left outfit called the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association. Even the American Atheists chimed in with opposition.
When it came time for Education committee members to vote on the bill during last week’s work session, the Democrats unsurprisingly voted in lockstep: ought not to pass.
Republicans also voted in lockstep, but not to pass the bill before them. They chose instead to throw the bill in the legislative shredder, and replace it with a toothless requirement that teachers get annual training on how to handle controversial issues in the classroom.
Democrats must be having a good laugh at our expense after watching this pathetic spectacle. “Hey, look at that, the stupid Republicans think the swamp is gonna drain itself!”
Our team apparently learned nothing from what happened two years ago, during the last session of the Maine Legislature.
In February of 2019, Republican members of the Education committee voted to kill the same bill in committee in exchange for a promise that a lobbying organization for school superintendents that opposed the bill would send a letter to all the districts reminding them to be fair and balanced in classroom discussions of current events.
How did that work out?
Judging by the testimony submitted to the committee this year, the depth and extent of political and ideological indoctrination in K-12 classrooms across Maine is worse, much worse than it was two years ago. In fact, it’s crossed the line from indoctrination to brainwashing in many districts.
To be clear, the pending legislation has no chance of being enacted even if Republican legislators spontaneously generated brains and backbones. With solid Democrat majorities in both houses of the Legislature, and an unreconstructed 1960s radical Governor who’s been on the government payroll her entire adult life, Maine is suffering from one-party rule by aspiring totalitarians.
The purpose of introducing legislation such as LD 550 is to get a public hearing so constituents can submit testimony that becomes part of the permanent public record. Then the bill moves to the floor of the Legislature for a robust debate, followed by a recorded roll call vote. That vote then becomes ammunition for our team to fire at vulnerable incumbents in the 2022 election cycle.
This isn’t rocket science or quantum mechanics. It’s Politics 101. Why is it so hard for Republican legislators and their leaders to understand?
We still have a shot at getting a full debate and a roll call vote on LD 550. It’s just that Republican members of the Education committee have made that task more difficult by giving members of their caucus an excuse to let the bill go “under the hammer” without debate.
Sadly, Republican legislators in Maine are showing the rest of the country how NOT to be effective advocates for parents who want political indoctrination banished from their K-12 public schools.
And if GOP lawmakers here in Maine keep it up, they are cementing their minority status in place for generations to come.