Republican candidate for governor Doug Mastriano wants to introduce legislation that prohibits teaching of certain principles in schools and to punish those who do.
The state senator from Franklin County says in a co-sponsorship memoranda that “I will be introducing legislation to prohibit sexually explicit, obscene, and racist principles from being introduced, taught or discussed in the school setting. My legislation would further impose penalties for Administration staff, teachers, volunteers, or contractors who engage, encourage, promote, disseminate, or imply sexually explicit or racist concepts.”
Mastriano’s yet-to-be-written bill aims to put on the books what a rising number of advocacy organizations are trying to accomplish.
According to Jonathan Friedman, the director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, the “groups pressure schools and districts to circumvent established guidelines for determining what books should be used in curricula or available in school libraries. They use the rhetoric of parental rights to trump the expertise of educators and librarians, while notably ignoring the differing views of other parents and students.”
In the memoranda, Mastriano wrote, “We have heard from parents, teachers and students expressing their concerns with racist concepts, conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity, and sexually explicit content within the school settings. Parents have voiced frustration with overly intrusive surveys distributed to students without parental knowledge. Parents have a fundamental right to decide what their child should be exposed to and what is age appropriate.
“Schools should be a place for engaging in academic discussions and creating citizens capable of self-governance. They are not the place to engage in politically divisive concepts that impart personal beliefs on impressionable young minds.”
A question arises, though – where are the schools in Pennsylvania where this is happening?
According to Dr. Elizabeth J. Meyer, associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Colorado, writing in Psychology Today, there is limited evidence of Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in public K-12 schools (NEPC 2021). She also notes that there is a great deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation as to what CRT actually is.
Moms for Liberty, a rapidly growing right-wing parent group that has pushed for book bans and against equity initiatives in schools nationwide over the last year, is now asking school board candidates to sign a pledge to uphold parental rights if elected, according to Education Week.
“I pledge to honor the fundamental rights of parents including, but not limited to the right to direct the education, medical care, and moral upbringing of their children,” the pledge for school board candidates reads. “I pledge to advance policies that strengthen parental involvement and decision-making, increase transparency, defend against government overreach, and secure parental rights at all levels of government.”
Speaking to a group in Warminster last Saturday, Mastriano said “that on Day 1, the sexualization of our kids, pole dancing and all this other crap that is going on will be forbidden in our schools. All the graphic, pornographic books that are in elementary schools will be pulled out. On day 1 and done, critical race theory will be out the window.”