My recent testimony on SB 5227 and SB 5228, requiring staff attendance at critical race theory training in public colleges, universities and medical schools

Mar 11, 2021

Yesterday I testified before the House College and Workforce Development Committee on SB 5227 and SB 5228, two bills the legislature is considering.  

Below you can read my testimony.

You can watch my testimony here.

Statement on SB 5227 – Requiring staff attendance at critical race theory training in higher education

Good morning Madame Chair and Members of the Committee. My name is Liv Finne, Director for Education for Washington Policy Center.

My research shows using government power to require explicitly racialist trainings with this curriculum will not improve society, but will create suspicion, lower educator morale, and make matters worse.  

Glenn Loury, tenured professor of economics at Brown University, John McWhorter, assistant professor of English at Columbia University, Bion Bartning, co-founder of Eos Products and president of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, and other prominent black, Hispanic and Jewish leaders, are rightly speaking out against this racial training curriculum.

They say that instead of emphasizing our common humanity and respecting each other as individuals, this curriculum lumps people into simplistic racial groupings, judges people based on appearance, and teaches that each person’s identity and status is largely based on skin color.

This illiberal and intolerant ideology violates our core civil rights protections that make a caring and tolerant society possible.

SB 5227 would violate the Washington Civil Rights Act, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” to all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin. It would also violate people’s First Amendment rights by compelling their speech in mandatory training sessions, or by suppressing their legitimate views and opinions.

These trainings will create hostile work environments in Washington’s public universities and medical schools.

These trainings are likely to promote feelings of fear, alienation and rejection in students and teachers. Enacting a government policy of judging others by their appearance will likely lead to more conflict and legal challenges in the state’s higher education system.

Already people are filing lawsuits against these trainings, and winning. For example, Gabrielle Clark, a black mother of a white child wrote this to her son’s school board: “My son is the only white student in this class, as far as we can tell. This teacher is blatantly justifying racism against white people thereby putting my son in emotional, psychological, and physical danger. This is not ok.” She’s just won an important victory in federal court.

Our school communities are based on trust, goodwill and kindness. We can’t have this trust if government institutions train people to unfairly judge other people based on their looks.

Statement on SB 5228 – requiring race-based goals and quotas in medical schools

My testimony from SB 5227 pertains to SB 5228 as well.

Prominent black, Hispanic and Jewish leaders are rightly speaking against this racial training curriculum. Using government power to require these racialist trainings will not improve society but make matters worse, violate our civil rights, create hostile work environments, lead to lawsuits, and undermine the trust, goodwill and kindness in our medical schools, upon which so much depends.

Contrary to statements made in support of this bill, SB 5228 will not correct the problem of insufficient numbers of Hispanic candidates for medical school. This is a complex problem with many causes, including the weak preparation of Hispanic students in science math and biology in the K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning.   

SB 5228 would require public medical schools to create racial quotas for admission to medical school. Characterizing these quotas as goals does not correct the error in the bill. When the government tells a public institution to set goals for admission, the institution will treat that as requiring the setting of quotas.

Courts have clearly held that setting quotas based on race this is illegal and unconstitutional. Establishing government preferences based on race violates our civil and constitutional rights.  


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