Multiple members of the Oversight Committee questioned the Ames School District about complaints and concerns from parents. Representatives of the District repeatedly dismissed these claims. Ames Superintendent Dr. Risner insisted they knew about 3 parents expressing concern about the BLM Week of Action curriculum because only 3 parents spoke up at the school board hearing. However, Ames’ own youtube video shows that 9 members of the public spoke in the public meeting expressing their concerns. Why District officials chose to falsify an easily provable fact like the number of parents expressing negative feedback at a public meeting is unclear and frankly disturbing.
There are further misgivings surrounding District officials’ testimony regarding “critical consciousness” materials being used. Representatives of the school district repeatedly said they had no knowledge of a specific planning book being used when asked by members of the Oversight Committee.
However, it has been recently learned the Ames School District published their Spring 2021 issue of Amazing Magazine, Critical Consciousness Implementation – Vol. 14, in which they said one of their first projects implementing critical consciousness in the school district was “a concentrated look at Planning to Change the World, a planning book for social justice educators.”
This critical consciousness material is marketed as professional development training. The truth is it is simply taxpayer paid training to teach public school district employees on how to be woke and implement their newfound wokeness to achieve educational and political change. Woke is a term that refers to awareness of issues that concern social justice and racial justice.
The Planning to Change the World education weekly planner is a 216-page planner for the school year from the Education for Liberation Network. The Education for Liberation Network is a national organization of teachers and activists who advocate for ideologies that support the Black Lives Matter agenda. The introduction to the planner says it is “packed with important social justice birthdays and historical events – especially those that may get left out of mainstream textbooks – as well as lesson plans and teaching resources, words of wisdom from visionary leaders, and more.“
Some of those teaching resources are “The White Supremacy and Me Workbook” – A text and a process for those holding White privilege to examine and dismantle their complicity in White supremacy.
Another resource is “How My Third Graders and I Address Consent” – In the wake of #MeToo and the Kavanaugh hearings a teacher shares her strategies for addressing consent with elementary students.
Again, when the Committee asked the school district officials what materials were used and sourced for their week of action, the officials stated that the only source material was the “13 Guiding Principles of Black Lives Matter.” However, Amazing Magazine publicly references the Planning to Change the World as a source for implementing their Critical Consciousness Implementation. It seems entirely contradictory for District officials to claim ignorance regarding the 216-page planner while also publicly referencing it in the school district’s own magazine. Again, why officials would choose to convey false information regarding something so easy to prove otherwise is unclear.
As news of what the Government Oversight Committee has done to expose and keep Ames School District accountable has been spreading, numerous other concerned parents and grandparents from around the State are coming forward with similar complaints and concerns in curriculum being taught in their school districts. Parents are encouraged to get in contact with teachers and school board officials with their concerns.
However, if those concerns are not being addressed, there are options available for parents in any school district. Parents who are concerned about the age-appropriateness of materials being taught and don’t believe their school district is being responsive, have a right to file an ethics complaint with the Board of Educational Examiners at https://boee.iowa.gov/about-us/complaints.