COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A debate over teaching the role of racism in American history emerged on Wednesday as a committee considered two bills before Ohio lawmakers that would ban such teaching .
Education that focuses on the effect of racism on society would be banned in Ohio’s K-12 grades under a pair of bills introduced by Republican state lawmakers in May that are similar to legislation introduced nationally by GOP lawmakers.
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Critical Race Theory is part of an academic movement that examines the history of the United States and modern society with an emphasis on the legacy of slavery, racism, and discrimination. Critics say he is proposing the United States to be a fundamentally racist country.
While the theory has been around for decades, conservatives have recently started focusing on it as a way to oppose classroom efforts to discuss topics related to race and racism. Such a setback has become stronger as a result of the country’s reckoning on racial injustice and police brutality following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, who was black, by white Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin.
Teaching students that one race or gender is inherently superior to another or that individuals could be considered racist because of their skin color would be banned under a bill introduced by state officials of the GOP. Diane Grendell from Chesterland and Sarah Arthur from Genève-on-the -Lac. This legislation generally prohibits the teaching or promotion of “divisive concepts” in the classroom.
A second bill introduced by Representative Don Jones of Freeport contains similar provisions and also prohibits teaching that the advent of slavery was the true foundation of the United States.
The House State and Local Government Committee heard more than three hours of testimony on the bills on Wednesday. Most speakers opposed the legislation, although dozens of people on both sides submitted testimony to the committee. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Scott Wiggam, a Republican from Wooster, said another hearing would take place.
If passed, the legislation could hamper teachers’ ability to discuss topics ranging from the American internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II to the Tulsa massacre, said Scott DiMauro, professor of social studies at Worthington. in the suburb of Columbus and president of Ohio Education. Association. Raging white mobs killed up to 300 blacks and razed an entire neighborhood in the Tulsa attack in 1921.
“There are so many parts of our history that are uncomfortable that require a deep dive into multiple perspectives to really think critically in order to fully understand our history,” DiMauro told the committee.
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Painful historical subjects should not be avoided or watered down, said opponent Rachel Belenker of Columbus.
“My great aunts, six of them, who were killed in the Holocaust, did not die so that our society would understand ‘both sides’ and objectively discuss their murders,” Belenker said.
Supporters of the legislation have said that nothing in the bills prevents the discussion of painful historical issues. The aim is to avoid attributing responsibility for wrongdoing to anyone based on their skin color or gender, they argued.
“Feeling guilty or feeling like we did it personally is what we don’t want,” Grendell said.
Despite GOP legislation, there is little evidence that Critical Race Theory is taught in K-12 schools in Ohio or elsewhere. Opponents of the legislation say the concept is misinterpreted and is a way to discuss the role of racism in society, such as discrimination in bank loans.
Neither of the Ohio bills uses the phrase Critical Race Theory, although Jones criticized the concept by name in a press release.
Jones called the theory anti-American, saying “it is designed to look at everything from a ‘race first’ perspective, which is the very definition of racism.” Similar bans have been proposed by lawmakers in at least 16 other states.
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