The Illinois State Board of Education is working on a new set of teaching standards for what it calls “culturally sensitive and responsive teaching.”
The board says the move will create a learning environment where students from different backgrounds feel engaged in the classroom.
“Research shows that teachers who practice cultural responsiveness are more effective at closing achievement gaps and helping all students succeed,” said Dr. Jennifer Kirmes, executive director of teaching and learning with the Illinois State Board of Education. “When all students feel like they are understood and included and they are deeply and meaningfully engaged, they are more likely to succeed.”
However, critics say the standards could politicize the classroom.
“It’s important to have teacher certification rules that make sure teachers are aware of where they stand in the world, where the kids come from,” said Ted Dabrowksi, the president of Wirepoints. “But when those standards become politicized and when the real focus of education becomes replaced or influence by politics by encouraging teachers to embrace a political ideology, I don’t care which side it is, it’s wrong.”
Kirmes says the standards are supposed to make schools more inclusive of diverse viewpoints, but as teaching standards, they don’t aim to regulate what’s discussed in a classroom environment.
“Rather, they invite educators to be reflective of how their own viewpoints and experiences might impact their teaching, either in positive ways or in ways that they might need to really think about and make some intentional choices about how to best reach students that could be different from them,” Kirmes said.