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USBE approves training slides for implementation of educational equity rule

By Ashtyn Asay - | Dec 3, 2021

Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal via AP

In this Wednesday, April 14, 2021, file photo, members of the Olsen and Thorell family hold pride flags during a rally in support of LGBTQ students at Ridgeline High School in Millville. Students and school district officials in Utah are outraged after a high school student ripped down a pride flag to the cheers of other students during diversity week. A rally was held the following day in response to show support for the LGBTQ community.

The Utah State Board of Education voted on Thursday to approve the resource slides that will be used for implementing a controversial administrative rule dealing with educational equity in schools.

The 17 slides will be distributed to teachers and used as a training resource moving forward. Administrative rule No. R277-328, which outlines rules for teaching race and equity in Utah classrooms, was approved by the USBE on June 3 and went into effect on Aug. 8 after a tumultuous 30-day comment period.

The slides clarify the main components of administrative rule no. R277-328 by providing USBE’s definition of educational equity, the required professional learning concepts for educational equity, educational equity concepts that are not allowed to be promoted or endorsed, as well as classroom applications and the parental complaint process.

“‘Educational Equity’ means (i) acknowledging that all students are capable of learning and (ii) distributing resources to provide equal opportunities based upon the needs of each individual student. Equitable resources include funding, programs, policies, initiatives and supports that recognize each student’s unique background and school context to guarantee that all students have access to high-quality education,” states the third slide.

Alongside this definition of educational equity, the third slide also states that “Equal opportunity does not mean equal outcomes.”

The requirements for educational equity professional learning included creating a safe learning space for students and educators, collaborating with diverse community members and acknowledging individual differences in a positive way, as well as defending intellectual honesty and freedom of speech.

The key elements that can not be promoted in classrooms were the ideas that a student’s or educator’s sex, religion, race or membership in another protected class determined their character, made them inherently better or worse than another individual, made them responsible for the actions of another member of the same protected class, and that a student or educator should be discriminated against because of their membership in a protected class.

According to slide 16, administrative rule No. R277-328 does not prohibit classroom discussions, and that the rule should not promote one ideology over another. Additionally, the rule will not apply during a specific educator’s coaching or remediation sessions.

A hotline will be provided as part of the parental complaint process so that parents can report any concerns of abuse or noncompliance with the new administrative rule. A hotline phone number, email address or complaint form will be posted on each school’s website, and a link to the school board’s hotline will be posted on the USBE website.

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