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A Chicago charter school teacher Angela McByrd works on her laptop to teach remotely from her home in Chicago, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. 

(The Center Square) – The Illinois Board of Education has adopted new standards for educators that deal with culturally responsive teaching.

The controversial standards are a set of teaching requirements for K-12 educators that outline how they should approach diversity in the classroom and make it part of the curriculum.

Teachers will be evaluated on these standards during their certification process and in-school job evaluations.

ISBE officials said the standards aim to foster classroom and school environments in which every student feels that they belong, which is critical to improving academic and behavioral outcomes for Illinois’ diverse students.

Board member Cristina Pacione-Zayas said the standard didn’t go far enough.

“To humanize and not deal with them in a superficial way by just diversifying our reading assignments, but really examining structural inequity and manifestations of systemic racism,” she said.

Opponents of the requirements said they prevent teachers and students from holding diverse points of view and will force everyone to follow one perspective.

Molly Malone-Rumley, spokesperson for Illinois Pro-Family Alliance, a group that is opposed to the standard, said the standards violate teacher’s rights to free speech and religious liberty.

“You teach from a progressive point of view, which we think will be enforced against teachers who think differently on political and social issues,” Rumley said.

Rumley said that her group is prepared to take the issue to court.

The proposal now goes to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in the General Assembly. There is a 45-day public comment period before JCAR votes to uphold or reject the new requirements.

If passed by state lawmakers, the standards would take effect on Oct. 1, 2021.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.