Sunday, October 3, 2021

Yes, Virginia. Racism and Sexism Do Still Exist

I wrote the following letter today because someone on my Assembly rep's page (Scott E. Allen) said no one reads these bills. And they were sort of right. So I challenged myself to print them off and REALLY read them.

Rep Allen stands by the wording of the bills as passed by the Assembly. He had an interesting response in a WISN UPFRONT piece last week that he shared in his weekly newsletter this weekend. I agreed with some of the counterpoints Rep. LaKeshia Myers made.

Senator Chris Kapenga

15 South

State Capitol

P.O. Box 7882

Madison, WI 53707-7882

RE: Please vote against SB 468, 410, and 411

Senator Kapenga,

I am writing as one of your constituents to voice my opposition to these faulty bills. I have read all three and have a number of concerns.

  • SB 463 places an extremely heavy financial and resource burden of documentation on already stretched IT capabilities in districts. There already are rules about transparency in curricula that should suffice. How are these extra costs and infrastructure needs to be covered?

  • SB 463 creates additional rules for assemblies, guest speakers, and other events that enrich the education of students. Will those experiences be denied students because of fears that something will be said by a speaker that goes against rules such as those being proposed in SB 411? I recall being moved as a child when a Holocaust survivor spoke at my school. That sort of thing may become a relic of the past with the passage of these new bills.

  • Why are these bills being proposed? I heard Rep Allen’s call that AB 411 is simply a means to establish what should not be taught in the classrooms. Has any school, district, or teacher been convicted of doing any of the things described in AB/SB 411?

  • SB 411 turns the very definition and understanding of “anti-racism” and “anti-sexism” on their heads. It reads as a call for people who have been in power to not be blamed for anything past, present, or future. 

  • I would ask all Senators to run the teaching of 1845’s Manifest Destiny, the ADA, or Title IX through SB 411. How could a teacher teach these history lessons without teaching about racism and sexism? Were there women and Black people in the federal government in 1845? What led to needing the ADA and Title IX?

  • I agree 100% that teachers should not ADVOCATE racism or sexism of any kind. But they have to TEACH it. SB 411 does not clearly state that and leaves the door open to being able to discuss, examine, and make decisions about our modern and historical issues of race, sex, rape, objectification, civil rights, reparations, and bias. 

  • In SB 411, I would ask that if modern students should not feel bad about people in their past, should we also teach them they can’t be proud of people in their past, either? True equity would mean embracing the goodness of all people through time and acknowledging the bad choices as warnings so we can move forward together.

  • My issues with SB 410 run along the same lines as SB 411. It reads like a cut/paste with edits to reflect the same ideas applied to all city, county, and state employees. It appears to be an attempt for those who have been in charge to avoid any sense of responsibility for what we exist in today instead of embracing an honest review and working with all of our citizens to build a better tomorrow. 

Wisconsin has rebuilt before- we were at the forefront of the mid 20th-century environmental movement. We have great thinkers and doers today in every corner of the state and from all walks of life. Our laws can and should reflect supporting them all as they work to bring us all forward into the future. 


Susan Baumgartner

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