Second ‘critical race theory’ ban enters Ohio House

Stock photo from Getty Images.

A second bill seeking to ban critical race theory in Ohio schools entered the Ohio legislature on Tuesday.

State Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, brought the bill to prohibit critical race theory — an academic concept focusing on the effects of race on all aspects of American society, particularly as systems were created that negatively impacted communities of color — along with “action civics” from the state’s K-12 curriculum.

“Students should not be asked to ‘examine their whiteness’ or ‘check their privilege,'” Jones said in a statement. “This anti-American doctrine has no place in Ohio’s schools since we passed our founding documents curriculum mandating the Declaration of Independence, Northwest Ordinance, Ohio Constitution and the U.S. Constitution be taught to all students.”

Jones said critical race theory “flies in the face of all of these documents.”

The bill would also prohibit students from “being forced to advocate and lobby for specific positions at the local, state or federal level.”

Under the bill, no state agency, school district or school could promote teaching concepts that say:

  • One race or sex is “inherently superior” to another race or sex
  • An individual is “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive” by virtue of that individuals race or sex
  • An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
  • “With respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of or failures to live up to the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality.”

Jones’ bill is the second bill to enter the House on the topic. State Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Chesterland, introduced a similar bill earlier this month. That bill would prohibit “teaching or advocating divisive concepts” on race, color, nationality or sex, and ban the assigning of “fault, blame, or bias” on the basis of those elements.

Other legislators criticized the measure as detrimental to the next generation.

“Teaching our kids about race and racism isn’t divisive; it is critical to ensuring that they understand and value the diversity of our state,” said state Rep. Thomas West, head of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. “We should be teaching them about how racial equity provides opportunities for all of us to thrive.”

The state-level movement to remove critical race theory from the learning environment was also called a power-move and a digression from the real problem — a failed school funding formula.

“Honestly they’re just trying to distract us, because they know that they have failed to provide the world-class schools that our kids actually deserve,” said Prentiss Haney, co-executive director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, a coalition of community organizers, policy analysts and labor unions.

Haney sees attempts to avoid discussions about the history of race, including the negative aspects of racial divides, as an elimination of parts of Ohio’s past.

“Literally, from the Underground Railroad to well-paid union jobs, Black and brown Americans were a part of Ohio’s history,” Haney said. “When we’re not talking about race and the construction of race in Ohio, we’re not talking about Ohio’s history.”

Legislation against critical race theory has been brought up throughout the country, with bills in Texas and Tennessee banning teaching of the theory passed in the last week. Oklahoma passed a bill limiting teaching of race and gender issues, despite a lack of complaints about the topics being taught.

A movement is ongoing in the U.S. House as well, where Republicans introduced the “Stop CRT Act” to make former President Donald Trump’s executive order on diversity and racial equity training for federal employees into federal code.

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