OP-ED: Will Senator Tester Vote to Impose Critical Race Theory on Montana's Children?


October 20, 2021

Montanans overwhelmingly reject Critical Race Theory in our classrooms. Since Brown v. Board of Education, we’ve worked to live up to our founding ideals and we hold true to the principle of equal treatment for every student.

President Biden’s controversial nominee to head the Department of Education’s extremely powerful Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Catherine Lhamon, instead wants to make sure every school in America implements and adheres to Marxist ideologies disguised as so-called antiracism teachings.

Ms. Lhamon’s nomination stalled in the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension Committee, where every Republican member rejected her, including moderate Sens.

Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Regrettably, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has set her nomination for a final vote in the coming days anyway.

With an equally divided Senate, Montana’s own Senator Tester will cast the deciding vote.  

Allowing Ms. Lhamon at the OCR helm of the US Department of Education will inject the abhorrent ideas of Critical Race Theory into every public school in America.

Ms. Lhamon’s own statements demonstrate that she would further division in our country by imposing her personal radical ideology on Montana schools. 

When asked under oath by the Senate if it would violate federal civil rights law for schools to have “separate grading policies based on race,” to “offer racially segregated living accommodations” or “for schools to tell students to recover from being white,” Ms. Lhamon said she couldn’t answer without more information. 

Apparently, Ms. Lhamon has forgotten the basic principles from Brown.

This is not someone who should be overseeing civil rights in American education.

We know the damage Ms. Lhamon would do at the helm of OCR because she held that very same position under President Obama. 

She believes that any statistical disparities in school discipline rates must be attributed to some kind of racial discrimination--even when there is zero evidence of actual discrimination. 

Her OCR combed through statistics and threatened schools that disciplined higher numbers of minorities students with investigations and loss of federal funding.  

The U.S. Department of Education’s 2018 Federal Commission on School Safety determined that Ms. Lhamon’s policies made schools significantly less safe.  

Bullying and violence against students and teachers was out of control in many places as teachers and staff across the country felt helpless to respond.

One uber-progressive district in St. Paul, Minnesota voluntarily adopted the practices coerced by Ms. Lhamon. 

This resulted in an alarming increase in violence against teachers and staff so drastic that the local district attorney labeled it a public health crisis.  

In Syracuse, New York, schools became so violent that a high school teacher was stabbed when the teacher tried to break up a fight between two female students.

The district attorney subsequently called for an end to Ms. Lhamon’s discipline policies.

Ms. Lhamon also presided over the Obama Administration’s Title IX sexual harassment fiasco that resulted in universities across the country creating kangaroo courts denying fundamental fairness to accused students.

The unfair and un-American system imposed by Ms. Lhamon was criticized by people across the ideological spectrum, including the American Civil Liberties Union, feminist Harvard Law Professors, and the American Bar Association.  

After more than 600 lawsuits by accused students against their schools for violating due process, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos pledged to overhaul the mess made by Ms. Lhamon and did so in 2020.

The DeVos Title IX rules now require schools to respond promptly and supportively to allegations of sexual harassment while also providing due process to both alleged victims and alleged perpetrators.

Ms. Lhamon has repeatedly pledged to scrap the sensible and fair DeVos rules.

As the Senate’s deciding vote, will Senator Tester stand with Montana parents and children, or will he stand with the far-left extremists who want to divide our country along racial lines? Parents across Montana and our country are standing up for the principles of Lincoln and Dr. King and rejecting the ideas of Ibram Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. Will Jon Tester?

Representative Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, is Chair of the House Education Committee.


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