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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), FHSD, and Elective Classes

Updated: Mar 20

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), FHSD, and Elective Classes

We are hearing a lot from the FHSD5 and our opposing candidates this year about the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and we thought a brief overview of this organization would offer context.

Established in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) gained prominence through legal victories against hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Today, its Teaching Tolerance curriculum is being utilized to combat hate and promote diversity and inclusion in education. Today, the center is touted by the National Geographic and the Harvard School of Education. The center continues advocacy and legal support for the following issues:

  • Economic justice

  • Children's rights

  • LGBTQ rights

  • Voting rights

Now the SPLC has come under fire from partisan culture war leaders who don’t agree with labeling organizations as hate groups. It was this criticism which caused the party-loyal FHSD5 to rescind their approval for Teaching Tolerance standards for our elective Black Literature/History courses that had already been taught for two years.  (The standards can be seen below.)

While we don’t disagree that the designation of hate groups should not be taken lightly, it seems the board has missed the mark. The standards above, offered by the SPLC (at no cost to the district) contain nothing that should warrant a last minute change to course options and an after-hours rewrite to preserve classes.

In fact, Teaching Tolerance is widely used by educators across the United States, particularly in middle and high schools, to address issues of bias and discrimination in the classroom. Its effectiveness in fostering empathy, critical thinking, and cultural understanding among students has been well-documented. Given the efforts of our district to build a more welcoming culture and climate, the partisan objections of the FHSD5 overlook the proven effectiveness of these materials and reinforce growing division in our community.

P.S. Unfortunately  this is the style of governing we have come to expect:  Alarmist reactions, a lack of collaboration and planning, and creating chaos for over 1,200 educators and 17,000 students and families who are being asked again and again to appease the board by making last minute adjustments. 

If you’re wondering about how this has happened before, you may want to hear about the rejected IReady resource adoption or  Director Cook’s crusade against FERPA.



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