tv Students Parents Others Testify on Curriculum Censorship - Part 1 CSPAN May 20, 2022 7:26am-9:38am EDT
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c-span now is available at the apple store and google play. c-span now, your front row seat to washington anytime anywhere. >> now students, educators and others testify on free speech in the classroom, academic censorship and parental rights, oversized and reform subcommittee just over two hours. >> good morning, welcome to today's remote hearing, we are in hybrid form today pursuant to house rules, some will appear remotely via zoom. you all know zoom by now but if you points first.
you've been using active view, this will work but you get better overall perspective. we have a timer visible on your screen. numbers who want to pin it to the screen, and third the house rules require we see you so have cameras turned on at all times during the hearing. we are not recognizing that you remain muted against background noise from dogs and cars and all that. you can seek recognition from the chair verbally or by chat or by e-mail with the staff and i will recognize members in seniority order for questioning. finally if you want to be recognized outside regular order you know how to do that. and we will begin the hearing
in a moment when they tell me they are ready to begin the actual live stream. good morning. the committee will come to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare recess of the committee at any time and i will now recognize myself her opening statement and i want to thank our witnesses for being here for this important hearing and we have some great witnesses today. our second subcommittee hearing addressing escalating assault on free speech and free thought in classrooms across america. last month are hearing was on thousands of books being targeted for censorship in school libraries and classrooms such as george orwell's 1984, toni morrison's the bluest tie, drama, and margaret atwood's handmade's tail because they address historical and
psychological realities of race, gender, sexual orientation or power in ways that are deemed politically incorrect. book censorship wrecks a healthy environment for free inquiry and learning and i've been amazed by the widespread response we received across the country to our hearing from students, parents, teachers and authors alarmed by what is taking place in their community but i am heartened by their expressed determination to fight for the freedom to think, to read, to debate and to discuss and explore. i want to introduce into the record a letter signed by 1300 children and young adult authors and illustrators including best-selling authors and susa award winners like judy blume, jacqueline woodson, mo williams decrying book banding from the classroom censorship. this hearing addresses the
closely related nationwide assault on the right to teachers and students to engage in free speech and learning in the classroom through the dissemination of basic facts and historical truths deemed by some politically incorrect or uncomfortable. authoritarianism always opposes historical memories, teaching the experiences of prior victims as authoritarianism, racism and fascism. is treated as an impediment to imposing new forms of control over people's lives, thoughts and bodies. the replacement of education based on facts, truth and ideas is the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories, big lies and disinformation. america has come to know the bitter price of conspiracy
theory and big lies and disinformation, social polarization, very roland racism and white nationalism, proliferating hate crimes, deranged gun violence and racial massacre, the people of buffalo, new york just paid that terrible price on saturday. six days ago and eating-year-old gunmen jacked up on deranged conspiracy theory and white supremacy tax up a small arsenal of firearms, four hours to a neighborhood grocery store in buffalo, new york called tops friendly market where he proceeded to execute ten people and wound three others. after months of planning the gunmen selected this neighborhood because it was the most densely populated african-american community nearby. inspired by prior deadly racism massacres from the oklahoma bombing to christchurch to el
paso to the tree of life synagogue to the mother emmanuel church the killer live stream is sickening atrocity on the gaming platform switch. the gunmen's manifesto justified what he cheerfully called his act of terrorism by reference to white replacement theory. the right wing conspiracy theory which asserts that white people, the rightful rulers of america are being purposefully replaced in society with black and brown minority groups, by their jewish controllers for the purpose of destroying the white race, the killer wanted to warn nonwhites to, quote, leave while you still can as long as the white man lives here you will never be safe. he openly stated that his goal was to, quote, kill as many black people as possible. significantly the mass murderer
invoked the spread of critical race theory as a factor in his crime. prickle race theory was a theory advanced in the 1980s when i was in law school to explain the stubborn hold of white supremacy and racism even after the supreme court's decision in brown versus board of education in 1954, these scholars argued american legal institutions and legal doctrine must incorporate the people's lived experience of slavery, the dred scott decision proclaiming that african-americans have no rights, that the white man is bound to respect, the civil war and reconstruction, plessy versus ferguson in 1896, upholding jim crow, apartheid in america as well as the recurring heroic struggle for civil rights and freedom in our country. critical race theory in law schools, was never taught in america's public schools.
where the right wing decided to make its name of anything they wanted to purge from public schools in america specifically the actual history of race and racism as well as teachings about gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. it began with the right wing propagandist named chris rufo who decided to use creek race theory as the cover and a villain for his campaign to destroy public education in america. november of last year he tweeted is time to clean house in america, remove the attorney general, lay siege to the universities, abolish teachers unions and overturn the school boards. recently he elaborated his program in a speech called laying siege to the institutions. a favorite phrase of his with an eerie ring to those of us who were here on january 6, 2021. he stated to get to universal
school choice, the universal public school distrust and to fight on terms you define bringing the game away with attacks on the institutions, you have to create your own language and you have to be ruthless and brutal, when called out specifically to create a mass campaign against public education that starts with one sewing mast distrust in public schools to win and two universal school choice, rufo responded hell yeah, thanks for sharing. the sinister strategy to promote paranoid distrust in school environment is playing out in states around the country. 17 states have passed classroom censorship laws where adopted orders prohibiting the discussion of race related issues in history, literature and current events in public
schools, to make a student feel guilt, anguish or psychological distress on account of race or sex, millions of students, specifically white students are snowflakes who cannot handle the history of the country including racism, jim crow or massacres like the tulsa race riot, but make them uncomfortable, their parents, to get the teacher disciplined or fired. this is an unworkable and dangerous principle to base education about history and society which inevitably filled with material that might make someone or everyone uncomfortable. must we purge the teaching of world war ii with genocide and massacres in high school
because students are considered too fragile to handle the truth plus we purged the truth of wars against native american indians and then ate eighteenth and nineteenth century because it would hurt the feelings of the descendents of whites who are alive at the time, a grotesque effect of these censorship laws is teachers cannot discuss with students the actual self proclaimed motivation of the buffalo shooter, or the falsehoods and racial animosity inherent in white supremacy without fear of getting fired. under new texas law not only classroom discussions about the shooting prohibited but which could be prohibited from removing the lifestream of the massacre from its servers because that would be defined as viewpoint discrimination. classroom censorship has expanded in attacking the lgbt q plus community by creating a moral panic about lesbian and
gay people indoctrinating children, grooming them for sexual exploitation. florida passed the don't say a gay act which prohibits teaching anything related to human sexuality or gender identity and k through third grade students, the truth is the grooming in this parlance is not it has never been part of a state or local curriculum or any competent teacher's practice, no one wants to teach kindergartners about sexual activity beyond recognizing what a bad touch or overture from a grown-up is. if young students are learning about sexual orientation and gender identities, the context of recognizing differences in family structures, some kids may have two moms or two dads, single parent at home. what is wrong with teaching that, and the emotional social learning curricula that have come under attack, it is okay to be your self.
it is not okay to vilify or humiliate someone just because they are different. the classroom censorship laws being passed today are the hallmark of authoritarian regimes. removing anything from the public sphere that does not comport with a strict party line and demonizing it. in russia and belarus, a crime to disseminate so-called lgbt q plus propaganda or discredit the institutions of family as it is a crime to describe the war against sovereign democratic nation of ukraine as a war, that can get you sent to prison in russia. a proposed law in tennessee would prohibit the use of any classroom material addressing lgbt q lifestyles. the proposed kansas bill, a misdemeanor to use any class or materials depicting gay people.
these are not passed for the benefit of students and their educational progress. they are not being passed to support parents rights to transparency and involvement in children's education. they are being passed to enforce the will of a right-wing minority hell-bent on destroying public schools against the exhausted authority of parents to support education or trust teachers, principals and elected school boards to do right by their children. these laws are being used to undermine public faith in public schools and destroy key pillars of his democracy, one that was purchased to the founders, more than 90% -- and and and the gentle lady from miss mace.
by congratulating her, they recently got engaged over a weekend. one of the luckiest guys in america, katrin bryant. i now recognize you for your opening statement. >> thank you, appreciate the congratulations, we are on cloud 9 for the weekend, appreciate witnesses being here today. our state and local government should make informed decisions about curriculums for students, the first hearing on this a few weeks ago, i witnesses, superintendent of education, should have a say in the curriculum of students that could not answer their questions. if the school board should have a say in education those witnesses could not answer yes or no but when i asked if parents should have a say in
their education of their children those witnesses could not answer the question. in 1982 the supreme court recognized state legislatures and school boards are empowered to establish and apply curriculum in such a way to transmit community values. that makes total sense, legislatures and school boards are accountable to voters, students attending local schools. we often like to say in washington dc on the hill that the government closest to the people of the government that governs best for the people. i want to recognize there is important work going on to ensure k-12 curriculums, public schools serve our students well and prepare them for success and no time like the present to have this conversation because kids are still suffering from what we put them through in covid 19, a.k.a. virtual school which was an absolute abject failure for our students across the country.
at the last hearing we talked about the importance of our freedom of speech, important in american society given the attempt to stifle free speech on college campuses and across the country. in the last hearing i talked about a college in my own backyard where a student's right to serve a nonpartisan political organization and was banned from doing that on his college campus, had to sue to establish that organization and i should -- that should never happen in this country. that with you have the most far right or far left beliefs in this country, free speech should not be cycled, the chairman will agree with me, when they say it aloud you want to hear them, you want to know what folks are thinking. i'm concerned this hearing may be here to discredit legitimate assessment that the curriculum is designed to empower students to achieve their full potential, these are things that we should be focusing on. i've seen it in my own personal household, a single working mom of two teenagers, when in high school and one in middle school
and cannot tell you how devastating covid 19 has been on our family and families across the nation. any of our students no matter the zip code or color of their skin should have the opportunity to reach their full potential but we see attempts to indoctrinate young students, we saw an example of this during the pandemic, we saw teachers unions conspire with the far left with some far left politicians to keep schools closed, to keep parents out of school board meetings, parents watch their children struggle through virtual school like i myself did, saw mental health, with attempt at suicide and suicidal thoughts and mental health issues with children increase over 25% during the covid 19 pandemic and many of these kids have not recovered.
we witnessed lesson plans laced with divisive and radical ideologies but make no mistake we should be teaching our children academic skills they need to succeed along with complete history of our country, but the good, the bad and the ugly. i talked about this last weekend when we were commissioning a missile destroyer named after lieutenant general frank peterson junior who was the first african-american aviator in the us marine corps, the first african american flag officer or general on the us marine corps, he served for 38 years, he flew 350 missions, combat missions and received the distant was flying cross, superior service medal, purple heart and any number of other commendations. i also talked about the rich black history we have in the low country in the area i represent, commandeered a confederate ship during the civil war, and in the low country area i talked about
harriet tubman, who rescued over 700 slaves in one signal night during the civil war. i talked about history of the first black american to ever sit in the us house of representatives, his name was joseph rainy, a black republican representing south carolina's first congressional district. we have so many heroes that our children, black, white, and other, can aspire to, these are the things we should be celebrating and teaching our kids our history, giving them hope for the future, giving them people, heroes, literal heroes to look up to and one day become. make no mistake. i stated in the last hearing, all the chapters of our history, their is no place is essential as -- it is not
age-appropriate, these are things that most americans can agree to. our children's innocence should be protected and prioritized along with potential for their personal and academic success. our children are the most loving and forgiving among us. our children are the ones who can teach us so many lessons about how to be fair, how to be equitable among those who are not. our children should not be taught that they are oprah's errors or victims based on the color of their skin. we should redouble down on our efforts to ensure our children have the foundation to achieve their best and full potential. reading, writing and arithmetic, schools are failing our children. in south carolina, right in the middle of the amount of money
we spend in this country but we are always last on education and academic achievement of students in this country. we have so much further we have to go and we need to do better in terms of the way the amount of money is spent to the classrooms and teachers rather than bureaucrats who are doing a disservice to parents and students across the country, those students who schools were closed longest have suffered the most, parents worked outside the home, parents were impoverished and didn't have internet or their kids didn't have computers to work on when schools were closed, we failed our students during covid 19, this learning loss continues and many students i know personally have not recovered. i have seen it with my own eyes and seeing it across south carolina. we have empirical data, studies
from harvard and brown university demonstrate children in virtual school have the greatest learning loss, those are the students the far left claims they care the most about, the greatest minority population are the ones we left behind, far left, the greatest increase in educational in equity in history at the hands of blue state officials, until we acknowledge the problem they created we cannot fix it. i'm concerned we are not doing enough to get students back on track. the country's future is at stake. i look forward to hearing from your witnesses today especially about the ideas to ensure students reach their full potential and the many obstacles we have created. how do we overcome them to do better for our kids and country? i yield back. >> thank you for that opening statement. i want to recognize the chair of the oversight committee for an opening statement. miss maloney, if you want to
speak for a few moments. >> this hearing is very timely. i would like to commend you on your leadership taking on this issue in your subcommittee. it is extremely important. i served as a teacher early in my career so i know how challenging a job it can be and how important it is that educators are free to tell our children the truth, the truth about our history, the truth about our great nation and the truth about themselves. censoring classroom discussions on race, gender and lgbt q issues is an affront to the right of free speech guaranteed in our constitution. it can also have a devastating consequences. the horrifying racist attack at a grocery store in my home state this past weekend shows
what happens when we ignore, and spread hatred. that attack was carried out by a man who targeted a black neighborhood in buffalo and killed ten innocent people. he found his motivation in a racist and radical conspiracy theory that he discovered online. on june 8th the full committee will examine the failures that allowed guns to get into the hands of this individual and other criminals, but today we are talking about a more fundamental concern, how censorship laws facilitate the further spread of hateful ideology because hiding the truth from our children, state laws that we are discussing make it more likely that racism, homophobia and other lies will fester and spread. proponents of some of these censorship laws claim they want
to protect children, but banning classroom instruction on uncomfortable issues like slavery, jim crow, black, lgbt q civil rights movement, does nothing to protect children nor do we protect children when we hide books from them foot might teach them about the beauty and humanity of people in cultures that are different from their own. among the most disturbing aspects of these censorship laws is how they seek to poison the relationship between teachers, students, and their families, turning relationships of trust into relationships of fear. for example, lesbian, gay and transgender students often see schools as safe havens where they can learn about who they are and seek guidance. evidence shows that lgbt q children you have even a single adult they can confide in especially when they may not have one at home are less
likely to attempt suicide than their peers who have no support. but laws like the don't say gay bill in florida make it almost impossible for teachers to talk about these issues and could require teachers to report a child who comes to them to the child's parents. this is an already vulnerable population of students at greater risk. these extreme censorship laws put teachers in constant fear of discipline and even legal or financial harm simply for doing their job. we have an important group of people who are here to testify. i look forward to your testimony. i have a very long statement i am going to put into the record because i want to hear what you have to say and i know our time is limited. i think the chairman for yielding to me. i would like to yield back to hear your testimony on this important issue.
>> is my pleasure to introduce the first panel of witnesses who are all high school students testifying but not answering questions pursuant to agreement with the ranking member. we have l holden, student from dallas county, texas, then clear mingle, student from hamilton county, and we hear from miss ramani. witnesses will stand so i can swear you in. please raise your right hand. do you swear or affirm the testimony you are about to give is the truth of the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? let the record show all the witnesses have answered in the affirmative. thank you very much. without objection your written statements are made part of the record, we give you 5 minutes within which to explain your basic point and with that you
are recognized for your testimony. >> i would like to thank -- >> we can't hear you. can you speak up or more directly into your microphone? turn up for volume. >> in texas, the problem with the oversight in civil rights and civil liberties. providing the opportunity speak about various classes and clubs effectively dismantled after administrative states off of that and sentence an explanation. one of the teachers asking questions was my favorite teacher who taught english, journalism and the newspaper. and the policies behind it, and
recently the contract, the trouble began. >> you said her contract was what? >> terminated. >> the trouble over the weekend, august 27th-29 of last year when school administrators, small range of stickers from where they were stacked for over a year on doors and windows. teachers and students arrived on august 30th. stirred since -- it became clear administrators without any communication systems, provided from to the forum. care reporting the matter, public information concerning education. later we found out teachers
were directed to do that only behind closed doors. there was no policy behind the stickers removal and they were all in closed-door conversations among administrators. they voiced questions to administrators why and when the stickers disappeared and only two days after all five departments about the district requesting them to be real loud students and my classmates during my seventh period, less than a week later, a history teacher, national honor society leader was next. in my view administrators will only be satisfied to leave the schools without a newspaper, competitive journalism team, national honor society and history nicholas teacher during a teacher shortage, if they had the advantage that education is not about politics, the
district could have talked with the lgbt q students seeking answers but this is how administrates found their priorities in conflict with ideals of transparent communication and support for students. mr. - this is becoming a national trend, teachers being attacked, they took the fall with instagram stickers and claimed a policy supporting their actions. part of the newspaper staff in the journalism team, this has academic plans like other students. i've been demeaned by district and school officials behind terminating a teacher who in highview outperformed other teachers but i do not believe in that and i won't be silent. ap english language and composition class taught the power of words in the production of the world, over 30 students and staff, which this year only had four
students. two weeks in had a new design concept and 50 articles in production. after her disappearance, they relocated without any lesson plans. once that arrived, the newspaper classifieds assignments from courts which most already had taken over. .. i was still talking about this made my argument less effective and i should know that because i am a writer. they suggested i only filed the complaint because i want to be a
lawyer. i hope this is not a signal for worse things to come in our nation. thank you. >> thank you for your excellent testimony and for finishing within five minutes, and for hanging tough or your teacher and for freedom. let's see. ms. mengel, you are not recognized for your testimony for five minutes. >> my name is claire mengel. my pronouns are they them d i'm from cincinnati, ohio. thank you for inviting me and holding his hearing. i want to tell you about an event my school hosts called diversity day and how its cancellation is affecting my peers education and mental health. but first i want you to know two things about me. in my whole life i've been taught by only one teacher of color, my mantra and teach from china. also i live in suburban cincinnati with just under 90%
of my classmates are white. diversity date is a one-day optional event at which students participate in activities and discussion to learn about and celebrate diversity. on the day before diversity day this year the event was postponed. a school board told us the permission slip sent to parents were not comprehensive enough so the event had to be postponed. students could really tell that the issue was not with the permission slips. the board members expressing concerns had campaigned on anti-policies and were using crt as a scapegoat to cancel open discussion of diversity. we were determined to preserve diversity day so we sent new permission slips and reschedule the event from 18. then on sunday may 1 the board held a special meeting and counsel diversity day. they voted that the event could not happen on school property during school hours or using any school funds. students took matters into our own hands. we made a go fund me to cover the cost of student shirt and
raise more than $13,000, over double article that would lead a shortened version of events outside school hours and not on school property because we didn't have a whole school day we could only have one of our four original speakers. we had to cut activities and videos. yesterday almost 400 students participated in a peaceful protest during the school day but because of sports and other conflicts only 140 could attend the afterschool diversity day. we held an event outside of school because it was the only option. the shortened event paled in comparison to what we planned and in extracurricular event will not be a viable path forward for future diversity days. like many others my district is in the middle of a mental health crisis. seven students have committed suicide since i started middle school. while administrators are doing everything they can just to keep us alive, the anti-crt c by the school board is causing immeasurable stress on her students and staff.
i and other students spent many hours planning this replacement event instead of studying for exams and cherishing our last weeks of high school. the board's actions have taken a toll on her teachers and administrators. the superintendent announced his resignation after the first postponement. our teachers are scared. i have had teachers whisper to me that they wish they could take a sticker that says protect diversity day, but they feared repercussions. something has gone very wrong when teachers think they would be fired for supporting the concept of diversity. most critically, students of color are being told by the highest authority in their district that their stories don't deserve to take up school time, school grounds or school resources. i bring up mental health to remind you that this issue is in many cases and in many ways life and death. i ask you, should we as students have the freedom to learn in school about different cultures perspectives and backgrounds? our event is not about crt.
our event is about diversity, learning about it and celebrating it. the school board brought politics into our schools when they attack our events. their actions have harmed our education, our mental health and our community. i urge you to protect students opportunities to learn about diversity and i urge you to listen to student voices. thank you for inviting me here. >> thank you for the very powerful and cogent testimony. thank you for hanging tough for freedom and the right of inquiry and organizing. and now we come to ms. ramani, you'll have now recognized for your five minutes of testimony. >> thank you. good morning and voter i am tonight and i'm a junior. i fed approach growing up in two write different communities. from kindergarten through elementary school i attended a school where the majority of students didn't look like me. and i still remember the pivotal moment in my life sitting down at lunch table with all my friends around the come still surrounded by my friends i felt
different and a filter for because looking around the table at everyone else's lunch, everyone had what i come to know what was normal food, pasta, burgers, pizza. i looked around the table and i just felt different. when that kind of thing happens again and again and again you start to doubt yourself. and i did. i started to doubt my culture. when i was in fifth grade my family moved with her significant south asian population. being surrounded by people who could connect with my experiences, who could validate what i had gone through, discussed the things that i felt different for help recharge my culture. but so many students in this country are not afforded the luxury of living in the community with diverse perspective. so many students in this country still feel different, and that's where the power of literature comes in. books help us connect with people who may be going through the same difficult experiences. but over the past year 17 states
have passed legislation prohibiting teachers from holding discussions about race, in many states are following in florida's lead in introducing legislation that speaks to prohibit discussion of gender and sexuality. let's look at this plainly. these are targeted attempts to infringe on minority voices. and attempting to silence perspectives that we may not necessarily relate to or even agree with underlines the very values that makes this country great. our country is built upon the building for our citizens to share their experiences through their first amendment rights. thomas pains common sense fan the flames for the push for freedom. "uncle tom's cabin" and frederick douglass is autobiography galvanize grassroots actions for the abolition movement. silent spring by rachel carson. >> national efforts to protect our environment. to censor voices that brings diverse perspective to the mainstream is an unfettered attack on the very ideals that
have progressed our country. and by infringing on students rights to hear from diverse authors we effectively sanitize our history. but our country was powered by an founded by challenging perspectives. and young people want to use these voices. gen z as utilize social media to transcend institutional barriers to organizing. rather than filter through older generations hold on traditional media, students have democratize the primary source of information. and young people's efficiency in navigating social media has enabled us to build a viable, sustainable platform for our voices. in fact, the most impactful movements up-to-date have been conceived and perpetuated by gen z 16 and 17 euros. the sunrise movement project after project exchange marked for our life millions have been mobilized. in michigan alone organizers like a dylan morse, others, the student to organizing hundreds
of thousands of young people. through the school year my friend and i worked with lawmakers to propose legislation that is enable high schools constituents to vote for the school board members that are representing us. we aren't exceptions to the rule. across the country young people are educating themselves and our social landscape. gen z has the capacity and more importantly the willingness to learn about the issues affecting us here we want to participate in these tough conversations. we want to read about the diverse perspective affecting us. and efforts to regulate what can be taught in the classroom is an insult to young people's ability to understand nuanced arguments. these book fans which disproportionately target authors showing street st documentary set of never before been heard. silence voices that we want and we deserve to hear it now i'm sure everyone is and they with a glass ceiling metaphor of what i want to talk what to do is the
glass dance that's around capitol hill. but finally through social media young people are melting down this class to andrew glass fence, melting down is very. >> where more connected, more and more active than ever before. before. as we continue to tear down this class fence that separates the minds and capitol hill from the innovators of our time we have a duty to stop underestimating young people's ability to understand and connect with nuanced literature. it's time to stop underestimating us. thank you. >> all right. well, thank you for that marvelous statement, and i think that nobody will underestimate this new generation after seeing these three very powerful presentations, but students you have enthused us with a lot of help with your vivid language a description of what is actually happening which is such a dramatic counterpoint to lots of the program talking points and propaganda we get up on capitol
hill so thank you so much for participating. you are not excuse and we welcome our second panel, so please show them in, and i'm going to introduce them as they arrive. first we have suzanne nossel who is the ceo for pen america. then work on her from dr. james whitfield who is the former principal for colleyville heritage high school in colleyville, texas. then we'll hear from willie carver who is a teacher at montgomery county high school, not in maryland at montgomery county high school and mount sterling kentucky. next we will hear from virginia gentles the director of the education freedom center at the independent women's forum, then we will hear from jennifer cousins, a parrot of four is come to join it from orlando, florida,, a finalist last but not least we will hear from dr. timothy snyder the richard c. levin professor of history at yale university who will join us
by zoom. the witnesses will please the unmuted or will rise so i can swear them in. if you all could rise. please raise your right hands. [witnesses were sworn in] let the record show all of the witnesses and to enter from it. without objection your written statements will be part of the written record of the searing and with that you're going to be recognized for five minutes of oral testimony. ms. nossel, you go first and you are now recognized. >> thank you, chairman raskin, ranking member mace and members of the subcommittee. i am suzanne nossel cro pen america. i applaud this committee for examining the weight of censorship engulfing our classrooms. pen america mission is to go celebrate and defend free
speech. we champion writers facing nazis. nazis. we work on free speech worldwide including china, turkey, russia-ukraine myanmar and here in the u.s. i am the mother to make public high school students and a lawyer by training. i proudly served in government by admin the house by agreement and advancing u.s. interest at the u.n. human rights council. beginning in 2015 pen america grew alarmed by rising story suncoast caps is the speaker does the petitioned trigger warnings and calls for safe spaces. we launch it work on free speech and education aiming to convince young people a value of free speech and to ensuring it firmly in the future. in the last year our concerns about free speech and education have widened and intensified. since 2021 with track the introduction of 185 bills which we call educational gag orders in 41 states, 19 have become law in 15 states that home to an estimated 122 million americans.
tennessee teachers are banned from discussing 14 distinct ideas, anything that promotes resentment of a class of people questioned whether individual rights are endowed by our creator. in florida from july and will be legally risky for teachers to reference lgbtq families before fourth grade. state legislation has led to written guidance for iowa faculty on how to alter their teaching to avoid quote drawing scrutiny from the state. it's led to a trainer kelly to just about books on holocaust with opposing views. over the last ten months we've documented more than 1500 but man's in 206350 new books planned to be destroyed and rapid city, south dakota,, 110 books were removed from shelves in texas. books targeted include toni morrison, art spiegel and biographies of ruby bridges, rosa parks and martin luther king, jr. we are tracking proposal to travail teaches the screen since a public library holdings in
mandate loyalty oath and encourage calling a hotline to report on educators are perceived acts of defiance. as an epic is us champion stalwart use leadership on speech issues worldwide i barely recognize my own country. the supreme court is clear that the discretion afforded to school boards is bounded by the first amendment. the state cannot quote cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom nor quote contract spectrum of available knowledge. the current wave of bands and gag orders to just that, partly because their disturbingly vague, divisive concept comes to typing end quote racist scapegoating offering no definitions of the sometimes novel terms. courts have held that speech bans must be narrowly tailored because a silence not just what is expressly prohibited by the wider band to what may be close to the line. bake prohibitions at risk entire
subject areas off-limits predicate for close studies so fugitive slave clause versus ferguson or even the civil war. at pen america we think of current moment as an education scare the time of manufacture. is overtaking reason. look, where in a time of social transformation addressing the unfinished business of the civil rights movement. the driver social change a sometimes take forms that feel heavy-handed or even counterproductive i have seen diversity training materials that seem to replace one set of stereotypes with another. the tests for our democracy is how we respond. of course parents must be deeply involved in our schools. that's why we have pta, parent-teacher conferences and school boards are as a parent if i the concern i connect with those in charge, i attend the meeting can make a proposal of what could be done differently. we don't make threats to try to get people fired. because laws banning curriculum and books are not about giving
parents a stronger say in schools. they are orchestrated effort to polarize, intimidate and restrict the flow of ideas. we also to recognize that not all hazards to open discourse are equal. topping any hierarchy of threat to free speech are those that the constitution framers most aboard to come viewpoint specific government prohibition pics of the idea poorly thought out training materials or class of discussions can properly be met with government bans replaces one purge and open debate with another that is far more potent and permanent. our schools teach her children not just math and reading but citizenship. do we them to think the right response is objectionable ideas is a government ban? if you're afraid of how this country is changing what could be more frightening than seeing the first amendment itself shut to the site is score points and so divisions were in the senator wyden fishers can schools help soldier us to give us a nation
get these bills and laws are turning them into our raw shredded battleground. our public schools are bedrock of american democracy. these attacks are open discourse and education risk cracking the foundation irreparably and outcome that no defender of free speech and no american should allow. thank you. >> thank you for your support testimony. doctor whitfield you are now recognized by tesla. i want to tell members of both the been called. we are monitoring it and we may have to recess just to elude everybody. doctor whitfield you are now recognized. >> good morning thank you, chairman raskin, ranking member mace, and members of the subcommittee for having me here today. my name is james james whitfield, i'm a husband and father three amazing children most recently asserted as a high school and northeast texas, a suburb just outside of dallas. i'm here to tell you today there is reason for concern. i told the crew and education because of my school experience. above all i want school to be a place where students feel like
they belong and their excited to be each day. where staff are empowered, inspired and equipped to serve each day. and where a family still connected and have the highest levels of trust as they send the young people into our buildings each day. eyewitness what can happen when that environment exists. it is such a beautiful thing. what if also witnessed how toxic things can get what people with the fars agendas come to town, allies, the bigotry, the intolerance, the racism. nevermind the fact that they don't know you or even care to know you. they have an agenda and your mere existence threatens that so the come after you. if not for public school educators filling people's in my life i don't know where would be from miss duffy might unite science teacher may be truly feel seen at school for the first time, to -- the first blackmail educate our members during my school experience when i got to seventh grade.
he was a representation for me of what could be. to coach stevens in my high school basketball coach to help guide me through to make pivotal points of my young life my mothers diagnosis when i was a sophomore in high school and then spring of my senior year i became a public aged 70. coach stevens and wrapped his arms around me, he did allow me to wallow in self-pity. he love me and he continued to encourage me. when i sit before you today and tell you that education specifically public education saved my life, i say that from the deepest parts of my soul. i serve as as a public so edd with deep sense of purpose a convention like so many who have chosen this most noble profession. teaching is one of the most multifaceted professions on the planet. every kid deserves a little coach carmody, coach stephenson in their lives. someone who believes in them, inspires him, empowers him, holds them accountable and above
all loves them. but here's what keeps me up at night. we are losing miss and the coaches left and right as educators continue to be asked to do more with less all want navigate the complexities of the role and enduring basis attacks by individuals with political agendas. processes for dressing concerts to procedural means have been overridden by the loudest most fanatical actions and i commuted. teachers met with interpreting vague legislation which speaks about making people feel guilt or anguish. educators who put their heart and soul into the growth and development of young people have been placed squarely and across as a political groups who are determined to destroy public education. they have faced bowling, calling for the jobs, they have faced death threats and hate mail. they have reached a point of frustration and exhaustion that i've not seen in my near two decades in the profession. to be crystal clear this is about disrupting and destroying public schools.
when you say parents rise, it's not what is seen. parents have rights. to say the don't is a blatant lie to the public. as educators we don't build walls between families and are schools that we build bridges. we understand the critical importance of a strong school family partnership. we must call this what it is, a ploy to divert public school dollars to subsidize private education in the name of choice. this can't be the way forward. we simply can't afford to lose true public education. it is of the key to mobility in our society, every student regards of faith, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or any other factor deserves to be seen, heard, valued, celebrated, engaged, inspired, powered and loved each day. the past sofas have been traumatic for my family and i do say the least guide with his first in what an obama can become with the most extreme violent hate filled elements take grip of the kennedy. but it also witnessed large group systems like we've seen today to gain a voice and stint
in the face of this hatred. so proud of her young people and i'm standing with you. they give me great hope. and far too often when mentioning prints were left out the vast majority of parents and families who avidly stand against these hateful efforts as witness to those people stood with me and stood with my family during such a county time and we are eternally grateful for the love, compassion encouragement and support. these concerns are real and lasting effect on education students in values and i begged you to take these threats sisley and to all you can to support us. appreciate the time to speak with you all this morning. they turned. >> doctor whitfield thank you. your love and your commitment to education is moving beyond words and i know the committee is going to be interested in hearing more about specifically what happened to you, hider contract was terminated just for speaking out about diversity in the school and you are accused of participating article race. as i understand but we will come to you. thank you for your testimony.
mr. carver you are now recognized for your five minute minutes. >> chairman raskin, ranking member , ranking member mace amends of the subcommittee thank you for this opportunity to come before you and offer my testimony on this issue. my name is willie carver and i'm a 17 year teaching veteran pick a spot to multiple school groups and published in thousands of professional organizations and by 2020 with teacher made a a difference and was chosen among or 2000 teachers as the 2022 kentucky teacher of the year. i was born to teach and i'm good at it. i transform students thinking abilities and lives. i've always faced his commission as a gay teacher and i've weathered the storm because my presence saves lives. 40% of trans people attempt suicide, nearly all before they are 25, of one affirming adult reduce suicide attempts by half. but that was before. a few lgbtq teachers will survive this current storm, politicizing our existence has darkened schools.
i am made invisible. we lost our textbooks during lockdown so i cowrote and found for reprinting for to make textbooks and it wasn't about to share them. others go celebrate similar work that my name is a liability. i am from mount sterling kentucky and met the president of the united states. my school didn't even mention it in an email. this invisibility extends to all newly politicized identities. our administrators new directive is nothing racial. parents not demand alternative work with authors are black or lgbtq, and told to accommodate them. but it will not ethically a race lack or voices. we banditry is by marginalized authors, ignoring official processes for one parent complaint removes all students of books overnight. students to use at the lgbtq or racist slurs without consequence. hatred is politically protected now. my day straight alliance or gsa
account this just a campus group couldn't share an optional campus survey with classmates. i was told it might make straight a students uncomfortable. when posters were torn from walls my principal responded that people think lgbtq advocacy is quote being shoved down their throats. inclusive teachers are being thrown under the bus by the people driving it. during a teacher shortage crisis gay educate with perfect records are being terminated. i kentucky teachers message of you are free to be yourself with me, you matter with pride flags resulted in wild accusations and violent threats. during this madness the superintendent wrote to a parent this incident is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. the situation became unimaginably unsafe. the teacher resigned. last month one parent dangerous false allegations at my gsa was grooming students were shared 65 times on facebook.
i felt my students and i were unsafe. multiple parent and i asked the school to defend us. one father wrote simply, please do something. the school refused to support us. there are 10,000 people in my town. the french group attacking us does not represent most parents who trust us. school is traumatic. lgbtq students are trying to survive it. they often don't. year after year i received suicidal get by text from students at night. we have always struggled to save the students but now i pen it when my phone goes off after 10:00. merrill, gentle transfer from owen county high school recently took her life. she always wanted a a gsa. our friends tried to establish one of the teachers wanted to help were afraid to sponsor it. her mother runs an unofficial group from the local vibrant. 45% of lgbtq youth seriously considered suicide this year. we chip away at the dignity and
spaces to exist. the system is meant to protect them won't even acknowledge him. i recently attended a ted talk. she described surviving a tornado with first-graders, how they hobbled a school walls listed under lift into the darkness. i realized for 15 years i've hug huddled around students and other tornado is you as walls ripped away i feel i'm abandoning them but i'm tired. i've fought for so long for kids to feel human to be safe to have hope. i don't know how much longer i can do it. i need you. we need you to be brave to face of the storm with us. strong public schools on issue of national security and moral urgency. political attacks are exacerbating teacher shortages harming our democracy and above all hurting our children. we need you to pass the equality act to make this clinician gets lgbtq people illegal. we need you to pass the safe schools act improvement act to
protect all students from harassment. we are not asking for special treatment. we are asking for fundamental human decency, dignity, freedom from fear and the same opportunity to thrive as everyone else. thank you. >> thank you, mr. carver for your service and for the eloquent presentation. now ms. gentles you out now recognized for your five minutes. >> chairman raskin ranking member mace and members of the subcommittee thank you for inviting me to appear today. my name is virginia gentles on the director of the education freedom center at independent women's forum. we are a nonprofit that offensive policies that it has people's freedom operatives and well-being. my work focuses on empowering parents by expanding educational freedom. like you ranking member mace i'm a single parent of two school age children and i wanted too much on the product of orange county public schools in orlando, florida. the nearly universal public school closure begin and march 2020 temperately granted parents access to classroom
content. before the end of it begin many pairs completely trusted their neighborhood schools to provide a robust academic experience for their children. number one, limiting parental access to instruction address had allowed schools to hide these we can often politicized instructions that children received. number two, accommodation of weak instruction a lengthy school closures left children struggling academically of falling further behind resulting in widespread learning loss. the primary purpose of education system is to educate students. how have students that have schools been doing with this?
an avalanche of research suggest our system is failing to deliver on this most basic promise of developing an informed citizenry equipped with basic skills and knowledge and prepared for the workforce. it appears today's hearing has been called in response to wave of parental objection. the bigger prices we need to focus on is for our nation students is out of learning loss. negligent school district leaders and data children academically emotionally physically i closing and refusing to open schools conversation the budget of sitting learning loss and significant mental health issues as the "new york times" has reported children so far behind during the pandemic. vulnerable students were hit particularly hard with the youngest students, student with special needs and students from low-income households experiencing the most learning loss. students in states and school district that kept schools close talker have suffered the most. a recent study from harvard
found schools with large numbers of low-income and minority since remained close the longest and remote instruction was a primary driver of widening achievement gaps. according to an author of the harvard study this will probably be the largest increase in education and equity in a generation. assessment provider renaissance woman discovered students reading and math scores are worse this you're suggesting the pandemic is having a compounding effect on student achievement. we see specific state results disturbing, california math scores have been described as a five alarm fire with eighth-grade student testing at the fifth grade level in math. maryland state assessment results marked the greatest single your decline in any state test given at least the past two decades. children who have not yet learned to read before schools close are still struggling to read. in virginia where i live early reading skills are at a 20 year low. unfortunately most school district leaders are not taking this crisis that they created
seriously. districts are awash in federal funding but they had been strategically spent 190 billion in supplemental funding of washington showered upon them across three covid error emergency spending bills. districts have allocated a tiny portion of funds to student centered strategies like tutoring. according to the department of education most of the federal funding remains unspent. private schools reopen quickly and stayed open during the pandemic protecting enrolled students from learning loss and driving support for education freedom to all-time highs. policymakers should empower parents leave public schools and enroll the children and options committed to educating students. state and local leaders should fund student directed by creating like civil education savings accounts allowing parents to access funding directly through such account enables them to escape the chaos of covid error education systems and swiftly address their children's educational needs. the majority of american
students entered covid with weak academic skills, school closures atrocious remote instruction in the prioritization of activism over academics compounded pre-existing conditions. parents and policymakers must hold school district accountable for massive infusion of federal funds and ensure that the resources are directed to prove and student centered strategies that will effectively address the nation's learning loss crisis. >> thank you for your very thoughtful testimony and now professor snyder you are recognized for your five minutes. >> sorry, i'm sorry that was msr thoughtful testimony. ms. cousins, we will come to you. you. >> good morning and thank you, chairman raskin, ranking member mace. i'm a mom of four beautiful and intelligent kids who my world revolves around. my kids or six, eight, 12 of 14 and a two was come one girl and one gender non-binary child. i'm a fierce advocate for my children also have only ever
entered public school and this addition i hold sacred. when i saw the bills going through tallahassee early this year i felt the need to travel up the width of the concerned parents, students and advocates to share my concerns about house bill 1557, 1467, and seven. these new laws whitewash history, and books and more importantly erase the announcement of students, parents and school staff that belong to the lgbtqia+ community. hb 1557 also known as don't say gay as written forbids the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity and grades k through three and only where age-appropriate thereafter. the bill sponsors -- what was meant by sexual orientation, gender identity, classroom instruction or age-appropriate but we and that includes a school policymakers know the intent is to target lgbtqia+ inclusively. supporters of the law have
argued gender identity inclusion in middle and high school is not age-appropriate and sexual orientation is only included in the voluntary state standard of hiv prevention curriculum. so now our local leadership is desperately waiting for clarity from the florida d.o.e. gender identity is calmly defined as personal sense of one's own gender, a book or instructional material that makes a girl proudly wearing a fairly pink dress this much about gender identity as an attorney with transgender character in it. a book featuring a mommy and daddy is just as much of a sexual orientation as a book that features two mommies. k-3 class winters are usually filled with pictures that are designed to engage early learners. please take a moment and imagine what classroom attorneys will look like if they cannot include families are relatable boys and girls. teaching the existence of lgbtqia+ people and k-3 prevents bowling, and ensure every child is included in the classroom. hb 50-50 seven will impact my
family. will make by rising first and third graders second-guess whether it's safe to speak proudly about our family and her sibling for fear of getting themselves or their teachers in school and trouble. it will increase the likelihood that my non-binary child will be bullied simply for existing. it will make it harder for them to seek out support from school staff knowing that this law incentivizes avoiding conversation about sexual orientation and gender identity. in a recent survey by the trevor project it was shown that one in five trans and non-binary you have attempted suicide in the past year. now that florida is seeking to hide our existence and silas are voices i fear for what those numbers will look like next year. in addition to the censorship these laws allow for legal action to be taken and add a new barrier to building a positive parent-teacher relationship teachers leaving the profession in droves, particularly in florida where paid morale and district support is low.
this year my honors english six good has been bounced between three different teachers with the last one being a math teacher and it is looking worse for next year. laws such as these leave our educators we are remaining in a profession where politicians are breeding distrust them moving their ability to make adjustments that best serve the unique makeup of the classrooms. public schools always have and always will continue to serve the largest and most diverse group of students. teachers are trained to discuss controversial topic several challenges students to think critically about their own beliefs and perspectives. for most parents across the u.s. exposure to diverse set of people and believes is a major attribute, not a risk. why should our teaching professionals questioned their own expertise to cater to the most conservative voices in the community? lgbtqia+ people are our family, our friends, our neighbors, our educators and a been a part of our community since the beginning of time. loss like florida is officially named parental rights in
education seek to erase their existence for our youngest of children who by nature are already more open to learning about diversity and accepting one another despite their differences and definitely -- thank you. >> thank you, ms. cousins for your excellent testimony. dr. snyder come to you for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. cha. i am very glad to be here as a historian who has studied the worst aspects of totalitarianism which include violation of its free-speech, as a proud product of ohio public schools. also very glad to be here with the students and the teachers who make my own career at the university possible crime glad to be with my fellow parents. i have been asked to make general remarks about the significance of free speech in history. i will do that and then draw from another contemporary example. the purpose of free speech in
history as has been discussed more than 2000 years is to allow contestation, the purpose of free speech as for example, the big playwright euripides instructed us is to create situations that are uncomfortable for power. free-speech allows much else but that is its central purpose. the purpose of history in free-speech is to allow all of us to see the errors of those in power. history is not a source of comfort, not a source of political homogeneity. history is a source of self correction which is why history works together so well with democracy. so in these fundamental ways democracy requires history and free-speech, and in particular it requires free-speech about history. representative mace i quite agree with your point that history involves good, , the bad and the ugly.
as was reminded we don't know what the good and the bad and the ugly are unless we allow unrestrained and continued research and instruction. i am a historian in of eastern europe so the example which is very much on my mind is example of russia which is another country where the idea that divisive concept should be kept out of political discourse has held sway. indeed it is a country where this idea has gone much further and, therefore, the country from which unfortunately we can learn. in russia that divisive concept are things like the famine in ukraine, the 1930s or the 1939 in which the soviet union was, in fact, an ally of nazi germany as the war began. in the rush of these things are subject to official taboos as well as a memory loss or so a memory law is something in which
people are punished for saying the wrong thing about the history of their country. memory law is widespread international phenomenon which the united states has been joining unfortunately these last few months and years. what we see from the russian example is that memory laws make democracy impossible because they prevent reflection about basic issues of public interest. what we see and rush as though is memory laws make war much easier because they prevent the kind of reflection about one's own past that would be necessary. and so, therefore, russia can launch an invasion on ukraine, they can very much make the same kind of argument soviet leaders made back in 1939. russia can steal ukrainian foodstuff threatening a famine very much just like happen in 1933 but no one is able to make these points because history is not known. and even if it were known it would be illegal to discuss it. once russia invaded ukraine
teachers in russia were instructed to avoid divisive concepts which might lead to children to discuss the war and, of course, there as here what a divisive concept and practice might be is going to be determined by government officials in practice. not surprisingly when the war began, there was also a purge of textbooks in russia which is now ongoing. the purpose of which is to remove all mentions of ukraine in the city of kyiv from russian schools here so in conclusion, very briefly, i would like to echo what mr. carver said about courage. freedom of speech requires a certain amount of courage. confronting history requires a certain amount of courage one of the purposes of history education is to inculcate that moral virtue of courage, to a custom students to have an environment with it we challenge and also challenge those in power. i make comparisons and i invoke
history because we as a country are only exceptional insofar as we make ourselves so. when we confront memory laws ourselves we are making the choice between what is courageous and what is cowardly. thank you very much. >> thank you very much for that superb testimony. we will now go to questioning and i'm going to invite -- okay. all right. congresswoman mace and i going to excuse myself to go vote. representative northern who still disenfranchised as a delegate for the district of columbia will stay and chair of proceeding for us and she can begin with her questioning and will come back as quickly as possible.
>> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] all right i would like presses my question minute if republicans take the house in the next congress we could see them of using congresses democratic power over the district of columbia to try to ban books and regulate the curriculum in d.c. public schools. this is not mere speculation. our republican on this committee is introduced a bill this congress that would regulate the teaching of race and gender in d.c. schools.
this is one of the many reasons d.c. needs statehood to prevent such meddling in local d.c. affairs. i now turn to my questions. most of the classroom censorship bills been passed across the country seen to be intentionally vague. teachers don't know what they can and can't say anymore. they have to try to do their jobs in constant fear of being fired, find, or having angry parents turn on them. to give you one example, a school district in texas was so confused by the wording of the recent texas law that they inform teachers that they need to provide students opposing perspectives about the holocaus holocaust. ms. nossel, what effect do intentionally vague laws such as these have on the individuals
they are intended to regulate? in this case, students and teachers. >> thank you very much. the supreme court's jurisprudence on the first amendment is very clear, that restrictions on free speech must be narrowly tailored. and that is out of a recognition that when there is a law, anything with the free-speech and to scope such a law of the first amendment is allowed in very limited circumstances. but even when there may be a compelling government reason for such a prohibition it must be narrowly tailored because it casts what courts have recognized as the chilling effect. it the facts not just the speech specifically delineated by the anything that might be seen as -- people recognize who interprets the scope of the law, the terminology in the law may vary. it could be a judge who sees things your way for the could be a school of ministry who looks of things very carefully. where you have these vaguely
worded prohibitions, things like scapegoating races gender or vague terms like divisive concept, or gender identity, the risk for teachers is that all sorts of things that they may put forward could follow under that gambit if it is being interpreted broadly. and so they have to be very cautious. we've seen in the last few days teachers who are afraid to talk about what happened in buffalo for fear that they may run afoul of a prohibition on discussions of race are racial supremacy in the classroom, which are now banned by law in some states. and so there is a wide chilling effect that is to send out our schools were all sorts of subject matter suddenly put on limits. teachers are intimidated, forced to be cautious. ministers are tended not to take any risks, to not discuss these topics at all for fear of running afoul of these laws.
>> these types of censorship laws bear an alarming similarity to those found in authoritarian regimes. professor snyder, as a historian expert on the development of authoritarian states, does the enactment and censorship and at the lgbt laws sweep to the country concern you? >> yes. thank you very much for that fundamental question. it concerns me very much as a historian, and that for two different reasons. the first is if we simply look at historical cases of authoritarianism or totalitarianism, we can't help but be struck by the fact that the banning of books and the attempt to limit classroom destruction, sorry, classroom
discussion, to some kind of homogenized set of topics is a a hallmark of the early stages of the end of democracy. that is simply a fundamental part of the historical record. authoritarians and totalitarians are aware that in order to master the present and the future they first have to master the past. and that leads me to the second way that i'm concern as a historian. as a historian i understand that the process of democracy involves reflection about the past, such that we can make decisions about the present which then affect the future. in other words, democracy itself requires us to have a broad and rich sense of time which is full of factual hourly, full of interpretations, full of different viewpoints. when we shrink the past with censorship, with fear, feh intimidation we are also
shrinking the possibility for discussions in the present and also thereby narrowing the possibilities for the future. so when that way there is nothing more undemocratic than to limit the possibility of discussion about the past because it is precisely discussions about the past that allow us to see different viewpoints, to correct her own mistakes and to make better policy. without the possibility of historic knowledge that kind of discussion and self correction is impossible and, of course, discussion and self correction is what democracy is all about. thank you. >> thank you, professor snyder. i call on mr. donaldson of florida next. >> thank you, madam chair. madam chair, real quick for the record i would like to introduce an article by cnn from april 22, 2022, 22, titled florida releases for my examples for math textbooks. it rejected four public schools.
i'd like to invite into the record and also enter into the record a a screenshot of one f the bar graphs from the math book that was rejected by the state board of education in florida. >> so ordered. >> thank you. witnesses, , which are getting s handouts of the items i just placed in the record. first thing, i would like to draw your attention to is the large bar graph is being placed in front of you. this bar graph is actually from one of the math textbooks that was going to be for florida adoption. the bar graph that is slated basically states you, it shows the differences among age groups on the implicit association test that measures levels of racial prejudice. higher scores indicate higher biases. this is a measuring of racial prejudice by age. this is an example of a math -- this is math. this isn't example of a a bar graph binges in a textbook slated for doctor and the photo.
the state board of education under the law that was passed by the legislature did it with critical race theory in curriculum and then classroom materials that actually rejected those materials, this is one of the examples the state board of education actually cited why this math book was rejected. there's another one. the article said that you see the image at the beginning of the cnn article is what, me? racist? more than two main people are tested the racial prejudice using the online version of the implicit association test. most groups average scores on between slight and moderate bias with the difference among groups by age and by political identification are intriguing. this is any math textbook that was actually solicited to the state of florida to be adopted by florida public schools. so if are going to talk about
curriculum and what should be adopted, she would not get to the facts and talk specific about what is in textbooks? my question for all the panelists, and anybody can go one at a time, should material like this be any mathematics textbook that will go before students between the age the might be taking math lessons somewhere in middle school, if the grade or even ninth-grade? should this bar graph, talking about implicit bias or racial bias, be included any mathematics textbook, not just in florida but any state in the union? panelists, what is your answer? >> not all at once, y'all. who's going first? >> i don't mind going first. thank you for the question. look forward to bring responses from the rest of the panel. you have given us a bar graph here. this is out of the textbook? >> this is an example of what florida released but i wanted to
adopt a math textbook. >> said we agreed racial prejudice exists? >> aquifer, the questions should this be any mathematics textbook? >> is there math in this textbook? is this come is assuming the bar graph part of a student learning math? >> dr. whitfield, should we be -- [talking over each other] >> i would dare say they are learning math skills. it just so happens that, again, this may be something that certain people view as uncomfortable. but racial prejudice is a real thing and i daresay our students get that. they understand that. so to say that just because something says something about bias or racial prejudice, as a profession has said, we can't just remove that because we are
trying to talk about something that can make some people feel uncomfortable and i daresay, if people feel uncomfortable, oftentimes there's a reason for that. maybe that's what's needed to move forward. >> dr. whitfield had have to some of the of the people. i have 28 seconds. i would love to have an extended conversation with you. >> absolutely. >> ms. nossel. >> i saw this graph and i found it surprising and, frankly, inappropriate for math textbook. i thought that was a risk this is going to stoke division, detract from the lesson. you know, what does the entire panoply of math books should of been rejected for this one chart i think is a different question because if this chart have been modified or changed, i think that is what we should focus on where educators consulted but i understand what you are saying. we are all concerned about a polarized environment. we're concerned about how to keep our kids focused on
learning and achievement and something that risks detract from that i don't think belongs there. >> i know i'm out of time, madam chair, i appreciate the indulgence. the last thing i will say is i want to have young sons, my 14-year-old is sitting behind me know. i've a ten-year-old son. i don't want children being focused, , having their attentin distracted from actual learning. if we're going to talk with history let's talk about history. if were going to bring in subjective material into the classroom, that is the problem that some parents upset in the united states. that's the concern we need to think about. that is not a free speech issue because students are a captive audience. they don't get to leave. adults can walk at anytime want to. the kids cannot. that's what is such an important discussion to be had. madam chair, thank you so much for the indulgence. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back.
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> thank you for your patience and your indulgence everybody. welcome to our allies on capitol hill, and thank you for waiting for us. let's see, i would actually invite the ranking member if she would like to go now, if you want to take your five minutes for questioning. okay, i will go first and then. and i don't know if professor
snyder is still out there, i'm very curious about what you said about memory laws as being a hallmark of authoritarian regimes attempting to rewrite the past, which i suppose is one of george orwell insights in 1984. 1984. how do you connect what's been going on with these laws against teaching critical race theory to the memory laws that are taking place in europe today? ..
what professor snyder just said it dealt with the discussion of race, is that right? >> thank you, chairman raskin. essentially the contract wasn't renewed. there was a settlement agreement between the district and myself and so i am prevented from discussing events pertaining to what happened with the district. but what happened, what initiated against me was much larger than that. it was a group of people, small group of people that were not parents of my students, that were not something, a larger number than not commuting members that raised concerns that i sent out a letter in the wake of george floyd's murder. they were raised concerns we create a a diversity advisory committee. they raised concerns i would even mention the word systemic racism.
because as a gentleman alleged on promoting critical race three said that the judge was according to conspirator promoted the conspiracy of critical race theory because of my views and what i had to say in that letter. >> ic. well, i'll be interested to follow what happens with your case as one final question doctrine over to you. ms. nossel, we have talked about the dangers of this great white replacement theory that the buffalo mass murderer was jacked up on when you went and went on this killing spree. what is the best approach to dealing with something like the white replacement theory?
is if you try to sensors and sick people can't mention it, or is it to talk about it and educate people about what's in there and refute its claims? what is your sense of that? >> i have to don't think it should be censored. it is got to be dealt with in a sense if we depend on the age of the students, what the setting is. is this a history class where i can be explored and examined? we've heard people talk today about the teachers who have helped them make sense of all this. for me that was a center, making sense of horrible chapters and her own history, and international history, understanding motivations, recognizing dangerous bigoted ties in with the manifestations may become may be, the different faces they show. when brett kavanaugh discussions of race or racial superiority, whatever the motivation is, that's counterproductive. we need interschool.
>> is built to explore these things, talk about them, recognizing when they see them, be able to persuade others and engage in these very difficult topics. censorship is not the answer. >> the striking irony that critical race theory is being banned all over the country by these states, but white replacement there theory g banned. wedding and event neither of them should be banned. is within the the realm of ideas and that means it's within the realm of debate inquiry, factual evidence which ultimately be the antidote to lies. appreciate that. thank you, chairman raskin a lot to thank all the witnesses for their testimony today. we appreciate your time and effort and sharing your stories especially to the students who are here today. you guys are remarkable. this is personal to me. i'm a single working mom like
ms. gentles and covid-19 really hurt my kids, virtual school really decimated our house with regard to learning. i've a few questions today. mr. carver i will start with you. since the start of covid do you know what the percent of increase in mental health issues have been with our students nationwide? >> i'm not aware specific embers but in no mental health issues are a problem across the board. >> about 37% of student admitted they had an increase in mental health issues. 44% said they are persistently sad computers of sadness and hopelessness. mr. carver, do you know roughly the percentage increase in suicide from covid-19 when kids are out of school mostly? >> i do not. i do know the percentage of suicide for trance tunes and lgbtq since which are high. >> what is the percentage of that? >> 75% of lgbtq students say
they're consistently miserable throughout the day. .. >> increased with regard to reading levels during covid-19 when a lot of people were home. how bad did it increase? >> i'm a teacher so i'm aware of the work that we've had to do for it. >> about 30%. >> and for learning math virtual schools was down 50% during covid-19. my next question, do you believe that learning pronounce or learning to read is more important to kids in school? >> pronounce are a part of reading. >> which are more important,
pronounce or learning to read just curious. do you believe that students should be suspended from school if they don't need the correct pronounce. >> i need context. >> students last week were suspended from school, middle school students for not using the correct pronounce. should teachers unions decide, in your opinion, whether schools should close or whether it should be up to schools or school boards? >> i think they have a voice and-- >> a students union guided the c.d.c. on school closures rather than giving that grace to states and to school boards. they were trying to twist the arms of the c.d.c. to make those decisions for parents, for school boards, et cetera. do you believe that parents have first amendment rights? i guess you mentioned first amendments in your comments earlier. do you believe that the parents have the right to the first amendment? >> all parents have the right to the first amendment.
>> do you believe that parents can show up to school boards to have their voices heard if they disagree? >> people have the right to have their say. if they're making threats, that's different, but if they're expressing voe sifr-- >> and a man showed up at a school board meeting because his daughter was sexually assaulted at school and that father was arrested. >> and i tell the story that i was raped in high school and when i was 17 and i dropped out often times women raped are victimized and revictimized when they come forward and in this case it's a parent and we want to make sure that the parents have the say in the school. and i want to thank you all for your time this afternoon and i yield back. >> thank you, the gentle lady yields back. and i yield now to miss
wasserman schultz for her five minutes of questioning. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i have some questions for my fellow floridian ms. cousins, but i would be remiss if i didn't use this opportunity to engage with professor snyder who is participating virtually. professor snyder my office loves your book and helped to steer america away-- i want to ask you yes or no questions and then your larger take on my home state of florida. do governments censor unpresent history in their schools. >> yes. >> to tyrannical governments muzzle teachers from telling the truth. >> yes. >> do they demonize, and criminallize protesters.
>> yes. >> do des pots make it harder to vote. >> yes. >> do they abandon, facts, science and reason? >> yes. >> do autoautokrast target? >> yes. >> and one law this week, thousands of my constituents fled from in venezuela, cuba and now governor desantis is bringing that to florida that putin or castro could applause. are we seeing the creeping owed obedience that we're seeing that you talked about. >> number one you're right to make these comparisons and cubans and the older generation can remember policies from the
homeland which are implemented in florida now. number two, i think you're right to talk about anticipatory obedience and normal to teach them as normal so they become the new normal and number three should people be resisting? absolutely. the way that democracies are overcome in the 21st century is generally from within and it's generally by clever leaders who find ways around the rules and find ways to create-- to find ways to use minority positions which polarize and-- >> thank you. >> thanks. >> thank you, mr. snyder, it's not enough to call ron desantis as a cultural warrant, we should call him a tyrant to install hateful policies in florida. i want to turn next to ms. cousins, because as a floridian you look at how this impacts parents and families
and the florida don't say gay act to protect students, the truth is they harm students. they prevent children with same sex parents and lgbtq students from discussing that in school and out lgbtq students to parents without the students' permission if the parents request the information and allows parents to sue schools should they fail to do so. you're a florida parents and has a nonbinary children as well as two other students. how would your children be impacted with the don't say gay law? >> my two youngers are the rising first and third graders. the pay they would impact if they should discuss the makeup of our family or older sibling while in the classroom and someone in the classroom overhears, guess what, so-and-so identifies this way,
the parents don't like the makeup of the family they're fully within the rights to sue the school, and not only sue the school, but the school is responsible for paying for that lawsuit and that's money that we desperately know in florida could be better spent on teacher salaries and student funding itself. >> can i zero in with you on that. you've been supportive of your nonbinary child. i want to ask forcing teachers to out lgbtq students to their parents. how do you think that could affect them? >> it's going to be devastated lead to higher rates of depression and definitely higher rates of suicide. you can't out a fragile childlike that without them being ready for it. and the reason that they can be safe in schools is because they don't come from supportive
families. my child has several friends in schools that are trans. they can only live their trans self in school because the families are not supportive and i fear so much for kids that come from that. >> this isn't about enhancing parental authority, it's about adversity affecting the health and well-being of florida students from one mom to another i thank you for being supportive of your child. that's so important. i yield back. >> i think we'll give the other members a few more minutes to get back and i think there's a press conference going on about buffalo. in the meantime, i'll take another round of question and invite ms. mason to take another round. i'm also struck by the way in which the autocrats and authoritarians fuel-- feel it necessary to attack the lgbtq community all over the world and we see that with
hungary, and we see it with putin in russia, with duarte, and crown prince and on and on and i wonder why that has become such a hallmark of the authoritarian regimes around the world and you know, i thought i'd get thoughts from anybody who wanted to, but perhaps prefer snyder we could start with you. >> you need to unmute, if you would. >> yeah, thank you for the question. so, number one, just to make a very simple observation, there's a lot of copying going on right now, so it's not a coincidence when different right wing regimes around the world use these as copying and fair amount of contact between the american far right and the russian regime on the issue of
gays. number two right wing, far right wing regimes tend to identify children as an anxious place and so they use the rhetoric. exploitation of children as a way to seem to be on the right side of families. this is a way of destabilizing other conversations and polarizing society and of preventing democratic conversations of what policies should be like. >> very good. yes, coming to you-- >> and i think it plays on primal fears. i'm a teacher, i worry about my students, i worry about their safety. when kids are trying to commit suicide, we are the ones calling the police, we are the ones literally showing up at their house toss prevent them. making sure they get access to counseling, fighting for it. i'm very proud of the unions in kentucky for fighting very hard when our students were
threatened with the loss of mental health access in schools. i can understand and even sympathize by parents if they're told by right wing advocates, your students nr danger that they might feel worried and we're in a time period in which lots of people feel stress. so i think advancing that narrative that their kids are in danger is an easy way to win people over at a most primal level that doesn't require them really to ask more questions other than how can i help my kid or protect my child. >> i appreciate that. >> it was just mentioned that there's a lot of copying going on and i just wanted to mention that there's a lot of copying going on among middle school girls in particular right now. there's a bit of a social contagion happening where girls who feel like they don't fit in, girls who might have lagging social skills, girls with underlying issues, anxiety, depression, a.d.h.d., often autism spectrum, they
find relief in an identity, like a trans gender identity, nonbinary, gender fluid. this is something that's happening very much in my community. i know of many girls who have embraced in identity when they hit puberty and middle school age. so parents are seeing that happening, they're seeing the social contagion and spread among middle school girls and wondering what's happening and asking questions. when i would say we just need to be mindful of the fact that i spoke with a child psychologist recently-- psychiatrist recently who said in the first 15 years of his practice he'd never seen a trans identified child, but now, most, many of his clients, the kids he works with are embracing this identity. so, i think it's appropriate for parents and for caring community leaders to probe, question, look at what's going on and then ask why schools are creating these gender support plans where these middle school
girls come to the teachers, to the schools and say they want a new name, a new identity and new pronoun and then the school developed the plan to then hide it from parents. why are they doing that? particularly when these are kids who have underlying issues, a.d.h.d., autism spectrum and might be more inclined to consider suicide particularly when it's told to them over and over and over you are more likely to commit suicide. those support plans are dangerous and they're cutting parents out of a really important conversation. >> thank you for that. ms. cousins did you want to opine either on my original question or on that point that miss gentles just made? >> my child knew it was completely safe to come out to me first. we never had an issue in school with having to create specific plans for them and my wish is that every child came from a safe family like my own where
they're free to be themselves. they won't be judged and they are live their authentic lives. you know, if the child doesn't feel safe to come out at home, but they feel safe with a particular teacher or a guidance counselor in their school, then, absolutely, it's important for the child to be able to confide in that safe adult because there are far too many trans and nonbinary children lately who their families are not supportive and they will go home, they will be beaten, they will be bullied, they will not be accepted and that's what's leading to the higher rates of depression in my opinion. >> mr. carver it seems like it's complicated to be a teacher these days with the rise in mental and emotional problems the surgeon general has declared it a nationwide emergency, covid-19 has been a nightmare for young people, it's been profoundly isolating
and demoralizing, and it's been a setback in terms of kids learning, now, almost across the board. and you know, what is the best within which a school can try to address all of these different problems in a meaningful and supportive way without ever imposing some kind of bar of political and ideological correctness of any perspective on families and on kids? >> for me, inclusion is the one word that matters. i know that students, for example, who come from families that try to change their gender identity, to disagree with them are 300% more likely to attempt suicide. if a student, for example, comes into my classroom and says i'm a democrat, i'm a republican. i'm trans, whatever. it's not my job to say, well, here is what you should be. or let's put you on a path to
be something else. >> my job is to say, great, you're welcome here. you're always welcome here. i think if we political size inclusion and say welcoming a student, making sure that this student feels safe, making sure that this student feels heard. if we somehow suggest that this in itself is somehow a political act, then it becomes impossible to make every single child feel safe. >> okay, i'm going to turn to ms. mason and thank you for that, and ms. mason then i think we're going to close it out. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i had a few more questions for miss gentles this afternoon. >> if your opinion is it school closures or classroom content that's heard students the most over the last two years? well, to be clear, students entered into covid in a bad position, they were already possessing weak math and reading skills and those have only gotten worse because of school closures.
obviously, a child can't learn how to read, kindergartner, first grader can't learn to room on zoom and impacted. and the school closures have had a huge impact. >> who do you believe is responsible at the end of the day for the school closures that happened across the country? >> i think it's part of the narrative to put the blame straight on randy wine garden, the teachers are a driving force in school closures, a lot of responsibility, local leaders, school boards, the superintendents had the responsibility to step uppen recognize that children were not doing well with their mental health and with their academic achievement and that schools needed to be open. >> and then in your opinion, interventions now, what with we do now? what evidence-based intervention can we be advocating for, congress
addressing and learning loss and getting students up. there are millions of kids that we're not going to be able to be back where they need to be, in your opinion what are interventions we should or could be doing now to make the environment better for learning for students who have been so negatively impacted and being out of school. >> i think that's where the good news is. the hearing has been grim in a lot of ways. the school closures have been dreadful and clearly there's a mental health crisis as well as an academic crisis in our country. the good news, student-centered intervention like high dosage tutoring, small groups or one-on-one interacting with a tutor, a teacher, who's really focused on that student's individual needs and getting them caught up. that's a proven strategy to help students and states and districts have 190 billion dollars to spend of federal supplemental money on top of what they have already. and they're having a lot of
trouble spending it. go ahead and spending it on the high dosage tutoring. a state like tennessee is doing it, they have a state wide tutoring core. i'd love to see that happening in more states and districts. the problem is that some of the districts are having trouble with their contracting. the wall street journal reported this week that the l.a. school district has not spent a penny of its art funding, that was the biggest amount of funding that was pushed out from washington. not one penny of the art funding that they've received and some of that was contracting issues. they had promised to do a tutoring program and they haven't lined up the contracts yet. >> well, thank you, and i yield back. >> all right. well, i think that no other members have made it back in time. i understand that mr. donalds while we were gone noted some examples of the reason behind
banning of textbooks in florida and i just want to add a little context to some of the documents he introduced into the record, a full 41% of florida math textbooks were band because they contained critical race theory which is surprising, but only 3 of 125 textbook reviewers had found poor alignment with even the critical race theory guidelines. one of the reviewers was a college sophomore at hillsdale college, a conservative university in michigan. another was moms for liberty, which has been driving the book bans across america. so, i want to introduce an article from the tampa bay times in florida rejected dozens of math textbooks, but only three reviewers found crt violations and one article in the new york times looking inside the textbooks that florida rejected. one was 11th grade pre-calculus
textbook that's not in the core curriculum. with that, i want to thank all of our witnesses for the day, for really superb testimony. dr. whitfield, mr. carver, miss gentles, miss cousins and professor tim snyder from yale, i want to thank all of you for tremendous participation, all of the members will have five days within which to revise and edit their remarks and also, to seek further questions of the members. so, if there are other questions that are advanced, i will forward them to you and please get nem them back to us as soon as you can. and with that, i want to thank you again for your excellent participation and our hearing
[inaudible conversations] (applause) >> good morning everybody and welcome to true con 2022, local action, global impacts. we're delighted to have you. i am really thrilled to be here with all of you today in this room, in in beautiful space and with all of you joining us virtually from across the country and around the world. we are really delighted to have