Lawmakers shouldn’t be able to flee from questions on ‘divisive concepts’ bills

April 13, 2022 3:20 am

A teacher walks among the the masked students sitting in a socially distanced classroom session. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images).

It is not a good look when a member of the Ohio House of Representatives is caught on camera fleeing members of the press while asking them not to “harass” her.

What made it even more exceptionally odd was that this member of the Ohio House, state Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, happened to have previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Even before that, she spent two terms in the Ohio House from 2000-2004.

It would be fair to ask Schmidt, as she fled the media inquiring about the just-introduced House Bill 616, what she might have been afraid of.

HB 616 was introduced on April 4 by state Reps. Mike Loychick of Trumbull County and Jean Schmidt of Clermont County. The bill picks up the themes of the “divisive concepts” legislation known as House Bill 327. HB 327 was originally introduced by state Reps. Diane Grendell of Geauga County and Sarah Fowler Arthur of Ashtabula County. Schmidt and Loychick also serve as co-sponsors of HB 327.

HB 616 proposes to insert a new provision into Ohio Revised Code which would state: “The school district board shall not select any textbook, instructional material, or academic curriculum that promotes any divisive or inherently racist concept described in section 3313.6029 of the Revised Code.”

The scope of the bill is structured to include not just public K-12 schools but also private schools in the state, provided they enroll students that participate in a state scholarship program. Under the bill, the state board of education can create a special procedure to revoke the licenses of teachers who violate the provisions of the bill. State funds can also be withheld from schools found to be in non-compliance.

If this was such a great idea, surely an experienced legislator like Schmidt could have spent a few minutes answering questions about this. A written statement was issued stating that the legislation would promote free and fair discussion in the classroom that is fair, unbiased, and age-appropriate. The relatively terse written statement made the sight of a legislator fleeing reporters even more jarring. These were answers she could have given on her own while walking and talking.

You get more out of what you incentivize. When bad behavior like this in the legislature is tolerated and encouraged, it will only continue. When only the fringes of political parties participate in primary elections, it is fairly easy to see how you get outlandish candidates that turn into extreme officials.

One of the most distrusted professions in our country is that of the teacher. Rather than attempt to micromanage from the statehouse, perhaps we all need to take a step back. Is there no other business to come before our legislature that might require its attention? When a legislator brings up something like this as a priority, is it otherwise fair to ask how it improves day-to-day life for all Ohioans?

Redeveloping the shipping industry along the entire lakeshore, in addition to promoting industrial diversification would put Ohio on a path toward an even brighter future. It wouldn’t be a right future or a left future, but simply a prosperous one.



Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.