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Alabama trashed over $16,000 in teacher training books because they were too “woke”

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Officials from Alabama’s Department of Education threw away $16,500 worth of “woke” teacher training materials because they were inclusive of LGBTQ+ and racial issues.

The materials were the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Developmentally Appropriate Practice Book. The books contained a section that said, “LGBTQIA+ [people] need to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity and worth” and discussed “larger systemic forces that perpetuate systems of White privilege,” reported.

The books were intended solely to help preschool and elementary school teachers improve their classroom skills and were never meant to be read by young children nor have their contents taught to them. Rather, the books were “focused on encouraging teachers to be aware of inequities, implicit bias and the diverse backgrounds of children in order to be better teachers and create welcoming environments for their students,” the booklets stated.

One quote from the book mentioning LGBTQ+ people reminds teachers that students come from all types of families: “Children from all families (e.g. single parent, grandparent-led, foster, LGBTQIA+) need to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity, and worth.”

The book also reportedly asserts that “the early learning setting can be a place of affirmation and healing for children, or it can be a space of trauma, terror, and exclusion. Educators must work to ensure that it is the former.”

A photograph, taken on May 2, showed over 100 newly purchased NAEYC booklets “scattered across the floor of a Montgomery waste recycling plant about five miles from the offices of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE),” the aforementioned publication wrote. The books and their accompanying registrations each cost $165, meaning that Alabama government officials literally threw away at least $16,500 of taxpayer funds to get rid of the books.

This year wasn’t the first that state teachers received the books. In 2022, $37,950 of taxpayer funds paid for 230 registrations for the book’s fourth edition.

However, in April, state lawmaker Rep. Jamie Kiel (R) sent a document to state Gov. Kay Ivey (R) highlighting the aforementioned sections about white privilege and LGBTQ+ inclusion.

“I have been told by multiple education groups that ‘divisive concepts’ are not in our schools, yet the material I read was offensive to me and the majority of the people I represent,” Kiel said of the booklets.

Though ADECE Secretary Barbara Cooper called the books “unacceptable” and instructed staffers to return them to their supervisors, Cooper resigned on April 21 over the complaints about them.

In a statement about Cooper’s resignation, Gov. Ivey said, “Let me be crystal clear: Woke concepts that have zero to do with a proper education and that are divisive at the core have no place in Alabama classrooms at any age level, let alone with our youngest learners.” The governor’s office confirmed that the books’ trashing were meant to “discontinue” its use.

Ivey’s is one of the latest moves in the GOP’s escalating war on “wokeness,” a term the party has co-opted to mean any liberal values that promote the acceptance of marginalized groups. She has long built a reputation as being fiercely anti-LGBTQ+.

In 2017, she signed a bill to allow adoption agencies to refuse LGBTQ+ parents. The following year, she said she did not “agree with the agenda or the values” of an LGBTQ+ non-profit. In 2022, Ivey signed a law to make it a felony to provide gender-affirming medication to people under 19. Doctors face up to 10 years in prison under the law. Portions of the legislation have been temporarily blocked by a judge.

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