Proposed Reading Resources Stir Controversy In Cody

May 15, 2015

Some parents in Cody are raising concerns about a reading curriculum that the local school board will vote to approve or deny next week.

The proposed resources are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and were suggested by a committee of educators in Park County School District 6 after years of discussion.

But critics don’t like the way some the reading materials address topics like war, slavery, global climate change and the treatment of indigenous people.

In a local newspaper ad, Cody parents say the readings show “left-wing bias that criticizes, denigrates and demeans America’s history, accomplishments, and founding principles.”

Billy Struemke is on the 7-member school board that will vote to approve or deny the reading materials next week. Among his concerns—that children will read biographies of Cesar Chavez and Langston Hughes instead of figures he considers less controversial.

“Couldn’t we have chosen other people?,” says Struemke. “And if we’re really looking at having diversity, why aren’t we diverse? Why did we exclude white Americans, white male Americans—you know, like George Washington or somebody that we know is a founding American.”

Jake Fulkerson is school board chair—but speaking just for himself—says every parent can’t expect what’s taught in school to reflect their beliefs and values 100 percent.

“We’re diverse,” says Fulkerson. “You’re never going to make everybody happy. So I think if you have a resource that somebody agrees 75 percent with, that’s perfect.”

Fulkerson says he’s pleased to see parents interested in what their children are learning, and trusts local educators to make decisions about learning.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the materials next Tuesday.