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.