May 2, 2022 

Dr. Jill Underly 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction 

125 S. Webster Street 

Madison, WI 53703 

Dear Dr. Underly: 

I am writing out of concern regarding an Educational Equity Leadership Series offered to teachers through The Network, a website that collaborates with Wisconsin Department of  Instruction (DPI) and federally-funded through grants from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  

A February 2022 webinar featured Charlene Carruthers, and was described as being based on  her recent book, Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements.  The session promised to provide a playbook “for people who are interested in, or already committed to social justice and transformation.” 

Ms. Carruthers defines herself on her website first and foremost as a political strategist, which  makes it concerning and questionable about how the political writings of someone who would  be considered a radical activist by a large portion of my constituents is relevant for training our teachers, or in executing the IDEA mission to help children with disabilities to excel in school  and thrive in society.  

Of equal concern was her comment about Critical Race Theory (CRT). Ms. Carruthers is quoted  as saying “I can tell you for sure [CRT] is not the most radical thing to come out. Wait until you  hear what we really think, what we really believe in.” 

I’d rather not wait, I’d like to know now: 

What are these views that parents and the public would be surprised to learn DPI holds  to and believes in? It’s clear that Ms. Carruthers recognizes a solidarity between herself and DPI, DPI staff, other speakers in the leadership series, and her audience. So, please tell me.  

Does DPI believe it is the duty of teachers to teach the caveats of activism, white privilege, systemic racism, and sexual identity in the classroom?

Will DPI be asking speakers with alternative views to be a part of the series to offer an  exchange of views? There is a lengthy list of presenters on the website with similar  thematic titles. 

Will DPI make these webinars accessible on The Network website so that parents and  the public can view the content? 

How does this subject matter meet the stated purpose of IDEA: to make available “a  free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the  nation and ensure special education and related services to those children?” 

Furthermore, how does this subject matter fulfill the mission of DPI “to ensure that  every child, regardless of zip code, has access to quality public education programs,  enrichment opportunities, and special education supports, so that all of our kids can be  successful?” 

At a time when our schools are failing our children, as reflected in the already low and declining  proficiency rates we see across our state —even after having received unprecedented amounts  of money—I would think DPI and staff would be more focused on their mission to help raise  student scores rather than creating activist, CRT, “leadership” training for publically-paid  teachers.  

I look forward to your responses to my questions. Parents throughout the state deserve to  know what DPI is doing to raise test scores and ensure every Wisconsin child graduates ready  for further education and the workplace. That is what they elected you to do. 


Chris Kapenga 

Senate President 

33rd Senate District

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