Ganahl Thinking Primary, Slinging “Critical Race Theory” Red Meat

CU Regent At-Large Heidi Ganahl (R).

CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, the last remaining statewide Republican officeholder in Colorado widely believed to be scoping out a run for governor in 2022–although reportedly considering lesser offices like State Treasurer if a run against Gov. Jared Polis looks unwinnable–has a new in-kind donation column in the Colorado Springs Gazette that on balance says more about the hurdles Ganahl faces than the quasi-candidate personally:

I believe that education is the key to keeping the American dream alive.

But I’m worried. Today, that dream is out of reach for far too many young people. And we’re focusing on the wrong things to get it back in reach…

From here, Ganahl makes the argument that schools should have re-opened last December, blaming “teacher’s unions” in a fairly predictable line of attack we’ve seen plenty of times before. The debate over reopening schools to in-person instruction has of course been very difficult for parents and teachers, but there’s nothing we’ve seen in polling anywhere to suggest that the Republican campaign to lay the blame on teachers–sorry, “teacher’s unions”–has gained traction beyond the GOP base.

Keep that thought in mind as Ganahl turns to the real focus of her column, the equally fraught and equally fact-deprived debate over “critical race theory.”

It’s playing out again with the growing debate about Critical Race Theory in schools. The political desire of some adults in power to teach what essentially amounts to propaganda is triumphing over kids’ needs to focus on the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Our children have lost a year of learning that they’ll never get back. So why are so many school districts trying to incorporate teaching controversial, and often very factually flawed, views about race in America?

…There’s no debate about whether our kids need to learn about our country’s troubled past and the long-term impacts of racism — they must in order to be informed citizens and help build a better, stronger country in the future.

But if we want to talk about systemic racism and systems that perpetuate inequality, why are we not focusing on the failure of our schools to teach kids of all races to learn to read?

This is Ganahl identifying “Critical Race Theory” as a proper noun, but not actually explaining what critical race theory consists of. She calls critical race theory “propaganda” and “very factually flawed,” but makes no attempt to justify those labels with any specifics. In fact, Ganahl concedes that kids do need to learn about the “long term impacts of racism”–but then pivots to teaching kids to read instead of explaining how what she just acknowledged differs from the boogeyman of “Critical Race Theory” she’s condemning.

If this seems like an incredibly weak argument, that’s because it is–and it’s illustrative of the difficulty Ganahl faces in presenting herself as “a different kind of Republican” while remaining obliged to shovel red meat to Republican primary voters. If Ganahl doesn’t recite the full slate of right-wing talking points, she can’t win a Republican primary. But by embracing these silly low-information culture war distractions, Ganahl is hobbling herself out of the gate with general election voters.

As Colorado continues to trend blue as it has in the last two elections and Republicans across the nation lurch further to the right, this divide is only going to widen. Ganahl’s message, at least what we’ve seen of it so far, is taking her in exactly the wrong direction to be competitive in a statewide race.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. notaskinnycook says:

    "…the wrong direction to be competitive in a statewide race." I'm fine with that. She's obviously an airhead who's never had an original thought.

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    I am ALL FOR teaching kids to read.  But there is a problem, then we ought to do something effective about it.  Since NO ONE talked about Critical Race Theory (with or without capitals) prior to this year, I doubt CRT is responsible for any problems with reading.  If Granahl believes CRT is blocking reading skills, I’m fairly certain she would misdiagnose the problems of ANY office she might run for. 

    More likely, the problem with reading is with what resources are available to teach reading — American Public Media had a report on “Why aren’t kids being taught to read?”  It said

    Experts say that in a whole-language classroom, some kids will learn to read despite the lack of effective instruction. But without explicit and systematic phonics instruction, many children won’t ever learn to read very well.

    Explicit and systematic phonics instruction would likely require training for teachers (who haven’t gotten it in their university training) and more support for reading instruction.  When I was in a middle-class elementary school, the “extra” support came from moms who could volunteer to have kids read to them and continue drills on phonics if kids needed that.  Now, that would probably require paraprofessionals, which would mean budget.  I don’t expect Granahl is backing additional resources for schools.

    • 2Jung2Die says:

      Also fairly sure CRT is not displacing math education in any way or any amount.

    • kwtree says:

      Both approaches ( phonics and whole language)  have validity, and work for some readers.There were just as many non-readers in the “ good old days” of all-phonics reading instruction ( and penmanship grades, punishing studetnts of color for being “loud”, segregating kids with disabilities, and many other educational gospels that have, thankfully, fallen into disuse). 

       Education professionals are accustomed to the 3 year cycle ( coordinated with school board elections) of The Absolute Greatest Latest Bajillion dollar curriculum ( or standards, teacher evaluation, standardized tests) that are Absolutely Guaranteed to Raise Student Test Scores!!

      Reading programs of all stripes fall into this 3 year cycle as often as any. 
      My expertise is as a teacher of Englishas a second language. I do find that a phonics- based approach, i.e. learning the bizarre and often contradictory rules of English, is the best approach for those learners.
      I’ve also seen a phonics approach work well for “struggling readers, often with subtle perceptual disabilities. 

      But phonics by itself is not enough to teach literacy.

      For those kids lucky enough to grow up in literate families, being read to and with from infancy, associating reading with cuddling and sweet good-nights, reading is usually a joy, not an obstacle. Even if they have a”reading disability” , theyare motivated to keep on trying. 

      And what Meiner says below is also true; culturally responsive literature is absolutely crucial. Kids need to see themselves reflected in what they read.


  3. Meiner49er says:

    2021's "wedgie" in school board races. Watch for this and calls for "scientific" reading or "informational text" rather than culturally responsive reading in Colorado schools. As though what kids read doesn't matter. If you want all kids to learn to read, all kids need to see themselves in what they read.




  4. ajb says:

    She's starting to sound as dumb as a box of boeberts.

  5. Genghis says:

    As seen on the internet, "I bought one of those white noise machines to help me fall asleep. All it does is bitch about critical race theory, so I'm taking it back."

  6. Dano says:


    There is no such thing as "Critical Race Theory"! It is only a White nationalist term for history. History is not a theory, history is recorded factual events.

    If one feels a need to add any modifier to "history," then  call it  "honest history"!

    • kwtree says:

      Well, there is…but it’s only taught in law school. What the white supremacists are going after is multicultural education, which is sourced from people of various ethnicities in literature and history. 

      This is also known as “comprehensive history”, since it attempts to tell a complex story from primary sources, with different points of view.

      An astroturf group called No Left Turn is organizing attacks (public pressure / letter writing campaigns, fielding slates of RWNJ candidates) on school boards throughout the country. They want to eliminate “honest history”, in your term, in favor of the winner’s version. 

      A local school board member gets hundreds of emails trying to stop the ( nonexistent) teaching of “critical race theory”. 

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.