Wyman is a youth development organization with over 120 years of experience working with young people to support their growth and development into adulthood, and partners with multiple school districts in Missouri.
Wyman is strongly opposed to proposed legislation, HB1474, being considered tomorrow in the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives.
As experts in youth development, we recognize how important it is for young people to have the opportunity to develop the cognitive and emotional skills needed to sustain their own thoughts, views, and values on a wide array of topics and issues. Our foundational approach to working with young people is to teach them “how” to think not “what” to think. We advocate for young people to have access to culturally competent, historically accurate, socially relevant curricula at school facilitated in an inclusive environment that is safe for all. Research tells us that when young people have the ability to explore issues in-depth while considering different points of view in an inclusive setting, they develop invaluable life skills and thrive into adulthood.
All young people deserve to see themselves reflected in the curriculum of their classrooms. They deserve truth in teaching, and to feel safe in their schools. Our commitment to anti-racism, as well as our expertise on youth development, call us to provide testimony to the House Education Committee in opposition to this bill. It is our belief that this bill will greatly hinder teachers and youth development professionals’ ability to foster the developmentally appropriate cognitive and social development of the youth people they work with and serve. In 2021 the U.S. Surgeon General declared a mental health crisis for youth and published a youth mental health advisory. This advisory illuminates the need for boarder more inclusive education and teaching as well as the need to ensure that each and every student feels safe and supportive. That each student has a place where they are comfortable in sharing and exploring their thoughts and views on past and present issues and topics. Now is not the time to hinder, restrict, or oppose comprehensive, evidenced based education.
We firmly believe that HB1474 will do more hurt and harm than good for our state’s school system.