Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), who is looking to unseat Gov. Laura Kelly (D) in next year’s gubernatorial election, became on Monday the first in the race to sign a candidate pledge aimed at combatting divisive race-based curricula in public schools.
Upon signing the pledge, dubbed the “1776 Pledge to Save Our Schools” and launched last month by the group 1776 Action, Schmidt indicated in a statement he opposes school teachings that cause students to think they are “oppressors or victims” depending on their skin color or sex.
“We can teach our children the whole truth about American history, good and bad, without resorting to controversial and divisive political theories that leave kids believing they are inherently oppressors or victims,” he said, adding that public education should not “discount the fundamental goodness of American freedoms and values.”
I am proud to be the first candidate in this race – and one of the very first in the country – to sign @1776ActionOrg’s pledge to save our schools by supporting education that makes our kids good citizens who understand and love America, not political activists who despise it. pic.twitter.com/dOsUKqVdRM
— Derek Schmidt (@DerekSchmidtKS) June 21, 2021
The 1776 Action website states the group’s mission is to stop the “anti-American indoctrination” of K–12 students, and a candidate’s signing of the pledge effectively equates to a promise to take “concrete steps” toward that mission.
Schmidt joins South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (R), Nebraska gubernatorial candidates Jim Pillen (R) and Charles Herbster (R), and Herbster’s running mate Theresa Thibodeau (R) in signing the pledge. 1776 Action President Adam Waldeck, who was an aide to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), praised Schmidt for joining in on his group’s initiative.
“Our youngest generation should be taught to take pride in their country, to respect our founding principles of liberty and equality, and to have a sense of American history that is both truthful and inspiring,” Waldeck said in a statement. “We applaud Attorney General Schmidt for signing ‘The 1776 Pledge’ today, and we call on all candidates in this race, Republican and Democrat, to do the same.”
The pledge is also backed by Gingrich, along with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. Gingrich thanked Schmidt in a statement for his “long-standing leadership for honest civics education” and bashed the schools using “a radical K-12 curricula that slanders our history and undermines our nation’s fundamental value of equality under the law.”
Schmidt is one of three Republican candidates who have announced a challenge to Kelly, who is vying for reelection in November 2022. The race is likely to be heated as the GOP seeks to unseat a Democrat incumbent in a solid red state after Kelly narrowly won her first election in 2018 against former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
The other Republicans who have declared they are running are Army veteran Chase LaPorte and former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R).
Schmidt, a native Kansan who has served as attorney general since 2011, announced his candidacy in March, saying in a video that “right now our liberties and traditions are being challenged like never before” as he vowed to uphold “bedrock constitutional principles like free speech, religious freedom, the rule of law, life, and our Second Amendment.”
Regarding signing the 1776 Pledge, Schmidt said that if elected governor, he will be a “strong advocate” for schools to focus on teaching about such principles.
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