A social studies classroom at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Credit: Vanessa Leroy for The Boston Globe
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A battle over New Hampshire’s “divisive concepts law” has been brewing in the state since 2021. The measure restricts instruction on topics that might leave students feeling inferior or superior based on race, gender, ethnicity, or another attribute, and also applies to training done by state agencies.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers proposed a repeal, eliciting more than 1,000 letters to the House Education Committee. The Hechinger Report, in partnership with The Boston Globe Magazine, analyzed a 264-letter sample to get a sense of both sides. Most (94 percent, or 248 letters) supported repeal, citing concerns such as a climate of fear among teachers and the worry that history couldn’t be taught fully and honestly. In 16 letters opposing the repeal, most argued there was a need to keep teachers from indoctrinating students in critical race theory (a legal concept not typically used in K-12 schools) and that only parents should teach children about political doctrine.
EXCERPTS FROM COMMENTS SUPPORTING REPEAL OF THE DIVISIVE CONCEPTS PROVISION:
EXCERPTS FROM COMMENTS OPPOSING REPEAL OF THE DIVISIVE CONCEPTS PROVISION:
This analysis about “divisive concepts” laws was produced by The Hechinger Report and The Boston Globe Magazine. Linda K. Wertheimer is an independent journalist and Hechinger contributor, and Cathy Ching is a Globe correspondent.
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