Minnesota school district lifts gag order on new proposal

Aug 24, 2022, 2:20 AM | Updated: 2:49 pm

BECKER, Minn. (AP) — A central Minnesota school district has shuttered a policy meant to prohibit staff from talking publicly about issues that might reflect negatively on the district, including a recent proposal to dictate what is taught in schools.

The so-called gag order came to light after the teachers union in Becker filed a lawsuit in order to speak freely about the school board’s plan to ban “political indoctrination or the teaching of inherently divisive concepts.” The proposal has rankled teachers and LGBTQ allies who believe it would undermine equity and inclusion.

The hastily-filed suit said the policy that prevents staff from commenting publicly violates free speech laws. The school board voted at a special meeting Tuesday to rescind the communication rules, a move that led the union to withdraw its suit.

Jason Baune, co-president of the Becker Education Association, said he was relieved by the school board’s vote.

“The Becker community deserves to hear the unfiltered truth from classroom educators about what’s happening in our schools, both the successes and things we need to improve,” Baune said.

Becker is 47 miles (75 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis.

The board has yet to vote on the new curriculum restrictions. Teachers believe the order would prevent students from learning complete lessons in American history, including the role of racism, and from learning how to think critically and speak civilly about difficult topics.

It’s just the latest in a list of polarizing issues that have surfaced in classrooms nationwide, including over displaying pride flags, teaching critical race theory and supporting marginalized students.

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Minnesota school district lifts gag order on new proposal