Teachers and policy experts are pushing back after the state of Minnesota's education licensing board voted to overhaul their standards and require new teachers to adopt core aspects of critical race theory and gender ideology.
According to the updated "Standards of Effective Practice," promulgated by Minnesota's Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB), educators are required to commit to affirming various and "diverse perspectives on race, culture, language, sexual identity, ability," etc. in the classroom to be licensed educators.
The new passages added to existing standards with several multiple passages suggesting teachers need to affirm "students' background and identities" to acquire a teaching license in the state. The rules will go into effect by 2025.
Rebecca Friedrichs, a twenty-eight-year public school teacher and the founder of "For Kids and Country," told Fox News Digital that every single "buzzword" from the far-left political agenda is listed in the new standards.
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"We are hired to educate children, not push a political agenda. And we are hired to serve children and their parents and work in connection with them," she said.
The document states that teachers must cultivate "opportunities for students to learn about power, privilege, intersectionality, and systemic oppression in the context of various communities" and mold their students to become "agents of social change to promote equity."
In addition, teachers are told to learn and understand the impacts of "systemic trauma" and how racism and "micro and macro aggressions" contribute to adverse learning outcomes.
"We're being told by a teaching licensing board, and by a union that claims to represent us, and by legislators that claim to represent we the people—that we're forced to do this," Friedrichs said.
She added that teachers in the state are "trapped" and must choose to either lose their jobs or do things against their own conscience or even common sense and science.
Friedrichs also claimed that many of the problems in Minnesota and schools across the country are the fault of teachers' unions. She described a system in which unions and their friends put into office the people the unions choose, not necessarily the people that teachers or citizens want.
In Minnesota, governors can appoint the governing boards that come up with the teachers' licensing standards.
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Teachers' unions in the state spend millions on glossy flyers with "cleverly written language" to confuse people to vote against their values and get the governor of their choice into office, according to Friedrichs.
She claimed that the entire board that came up with this Minnesota teacher licensing is politicized, being funded and promoted and lobbied by the very people that put them into office or put into office the people who appointed them, while teachers are ignored.
"This is called bullying. These are mafia tactics. This is being run by a cartel," Friedrichs said.
Catrin Wigfall, a Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, told Fox News Digital that the new rule changes will affect any aspiring teacher in the state, whether they work for public or private schools. It will also impact teachers getting a license through teacher prep providers, those completing an initial T3 license, including adult learners who do not go through traditional additional preparation programs.
She said that the rule changes could violate teachers' religious liberties and exacerbate teachers' shortages.
The changes also present a grey area regarding whether the rule changes when it comes to current teachers trying to renew their licenses. PELSB has said that these standards will not impact licensing renewal processes, but the American experiment is skeptical because of ambiguous language pulled from and inspired by Illinois.
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Illinois has similar board rule changes that apply to current teachers. Several other states are expected to follow suit.
The board rule changes in Minnesota are approved not by legislatures but by a chief administrative law judge who will review these changes and identify whether they are within the scope of the board and approve or disapprove them.
The rule changes should not impact curriculum, which is determined by school boards and do not impact standards and best practices which the department of education reviews. However, they do set the tone and establish the framework for the mindset of educators.
Wigfall said the affirmations present in the new standard could violate religious liberties, which PELSB has refuted in post-public comments. Additionally, they could discourage teachers from a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds from entering the profession when the state is trying to increase diversity. She said that court action is coming down the pipeline from educators soon impacted by the rule changes.
Wigfall took issue with a passage that said to empower learners to be "agents of social change." She said the language is concerning because it will encourage teachers to turn students into activists, which is different from the goal of education. That part was originally disapproved by a judge but was overturned by the chief administrative law judge.
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"I fear that the classroom will be encouraged to be a space for students to become social justice activists, social justice warriors, and that I think will politicize the classroom and turn it into an ideological battleground," she said.
Wigfall added that teachers are being asked to prioritize political and social activism in classrooms at a time when like Minnesota, Illinois students are underperforming on basic skills tests.
Friedrichs said teachers need to disengage from the unions if they are interested in combating the new standards.
She said that teachers are trapped in the "unionized monopoly," and many don't know that they are no longer required to pay the unions anymore.
Friedrichs and nine other California teachers previously brought a lawsuit against the unions and on June 27, 2018, teachers were freed from forced unionism.
Most people don't know they've been freed because the unions passed all kinds of laws in many states that say government employers are not allowed to tell the employees that they have been freed of the union, according to Friedrichs.
"They might harass you, they'll probably bully you, but we have to be courageous and stand up against these wicked people who are truly damaging our kids and our freedoms," she said.