The Oklahoma Board of Education voted to ban the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” in schools, seeming to ratify a bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor a few weeks ago.
All of this places Oklahoma in-step with other GOP-dominated states.
The only Black on the board voted against the measure.
With the vote, educators could have their teaching licenses suspended and schools could have their accreditation revoked for teaching banned concepts about race and racism.
Board Member Carlisha Williams Bradley was the sole vote against the measure.
State supt. Joy Hofmeister has voiced opposition to the new law.
The vote was 5-1.
Republican legislators pressured the board to take the vote.
Some have argued that the new law bans a practice that does not exist in Oklahoma schools.
State Rep. Kevin West (Rep., Moore), the sponsor of State House Bill 1775, called it an extensive process for a local school board or the state Board of Education to investigate an allegation against a specific teacher or institution.
The legislator helped write the rules approved by the state board.
State HB 1775 requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules detailing how the law would be carried out.
“We wanted to have a way for the parents to bring this to the attention [of a school board], but we also don’t want a parent who has it in for a specific teacher to be able to railroad that teacher,” State Rep. West said, “because our teachers have done a fantastic job and we wanted to have some protections in there for them, as well.”
The new law prohibits educators from teaching that:
- One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
- An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
- Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex
- An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
- Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex, and or
- Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.
Opponents of the law said neither the “Critical Race Theory” nor the concepts outlined in State HB 1775 are being taught in Oklahoma public schools.
Board Member Bradley criticized the debate and said the new law fosters fear in teaching accurate American history.
She said most people don’t know how to define the theory and that theory is not being taught in schools anyway.
“With this legislation….with these rules….we’re robbing students of the opportunity to have a high-quality education, to think critically about the world around us and to build a more just society,” she said.