Parents and activists who are upset about a curriculum that includes issues of race and gender delivered a stern warning to the Redmond School Board this week: They would pull their children out of schools if the curriculum remains unchanged.
Some of the more than 50 people in attendance Wednesday were also part of the organized protest at the Bend-La Pine School Board meeting on Tuesday. Both protests also took issue with the use of masks in schools.
“Please know from all the people here tonight and many more that aren’t: This is a warning from parents that you serve,” said Liz Batterson, a grandmother. “Pushing CRT (critical race theory), pushing LGBTQ ideologies upon our children will destroy the brick and mortar system and place all of you into no jobs and no positions to hold as there will be no more public schools if we pull all of our children out.”
Some parents at the meeting told the board they had already pulled their children out of Redmond schools. Batterson said her granddaughter would not attend in the fall and be homeschooled instead.
Critical race theory is a collection of concepts addressing racial inequity and is taught in higher education. It has become a catchall phrase for efforts to address systemic racism. The phrase is often used by conservatives in a national culture war that is spilling into K-12 education.
Sheila Miller, a spokeswoman for Redmond School District, said critical race theory is not taught in Redmond Schools. Issues of race are taught as part of social studies classes.
The Redmond School Board created an equity task force for the district in September to address inequities in local schools, combat explicit and implicit racism and diversify the district’s workforce. No concrete goals have yet been set by the task force.
While speakers at the Bend-La Pine School Board meeting Tuesday took issue with teaching related to race and gender, most of them were there to discuss the school district’s plan for masking inside classrooms. The school district plans to follow the federal Centers of Disease and Prevention guidelines.
Redmond School District, on the other hand, will no longer require masks to be worn by students and staff inside classrooms. Masks will continue to be required on school buses until the federal requirement is lifted.
B.J. Soper, a Redmond resident and parent, said that while the Redmond School District has made steps in a positive direction toward mask use, it’s not enough. Soper, a conservative activist, garnered national attention after joining Ammon Bundy during his takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
“Masking children is abuse. Contact tracing is a violation of our privacy,” he said. “My daughter will not be subject to the COVID nonsense, period. Nor will the Marxist, Communist agenda, such as the the Equity Task Force, be used to manipulate her education.”