A 9th-Grade history assignment and discussion at Blue Valley West High School in Kansas asked students to explain “What is causing the rise in right-wing domestic terrorism in the U. S.?” The teacher and district officials offered no proof of the claim and doubled down on what parents believe to be blatant bias.
Another question The Sentinel obtained from concerned parents asked, “Was the siege at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th a year ago an act of domestic terrorism?”
In a later discussion, the teacher was asked if there are left-wing domestic terrorists and if Black Lives Matter would be considered one. The response according to parents, was “Groups like Black Lives Matter want more government, not less; so, they aren’t domestic terrorists.”
The Sentinel reached out to Principal Katie Bonnema for comment on what parents believe to be biased in singling out only conservative groups in labeling them domestic terrorists while denying that groups associated with street riots participate in or encourage domestic terrorism.
She referred our question to Communications Director Kaci Brutto, who replied no one involved in the assignment, including parents, had raised a concern:
“Blue Valley Schools strives to create and maintain open, inclusive, two-way communication with families. As a district, we believe that the first contact with questions and concerns should be directly with the teacher, as that person is closest to the situation and will have the most information. If a family or student feels further discussion is warranted, we would encourage them to visit with a building-level administrator.
“I did check with the principal and we have not had any questions or concerns brought forward by students or families regarding this assignment to the teacher or an administrator.”
This is a standard tactic by the Blue Valley school district — defending actions as proper solely because parents or students who fear retaliation allegedly have not raised a concern. And by the absence of comment to the contrary, the district is tacitly declaring that domestic terrorism is a ‘right-wing’ issue.
In another incident, Blue Valley officials defended a video in which teachers criticized White people, Christians, and Republicans.
Parents Bill of Rights, transparency opposed by school officials
Episodes like this Blue Valley domestic terrorism assignment and a large number of complaints from parents prompted Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) to propose a Parents Bill of Rights. HB 2662 would require school districts to publish curriculum and other materials online so parents can review them in advance.
A public opinion survey conducted on behalf of the Sentinel’s owner, Kansas Policy Institute, finds great concern among parents and grandparents with children in public school. The majority — 57% — say they are concerned about students being taught objectionable material, and 88% believe parents should have the final say in the education of their children.
School boards, unions, and their allies spoke in opposition to HB 2662 this week. They say that transparency would place too much of a burden on schools and that parents already have access to that information.
The Blue Valley assignment declaring that domestic terrorism is a right-wing issue serves as proof that parents don’t have access to objectionable material until it is too late.