The Oklahoma Board of Education met on Monday to decide how teachers will address Critical Race Theory across Oklahoma schools. In light of House Bill 1775, which prohibits the teaching of certain topics like White privilege and structural racism to students from kindergarten to college, teachers will now have a set of guidelines for Oklahoma’s rules about addressing the history of the United States, along with current social movements.
While the reality is that the United States was founded upon slavery and white supremacy, students are no longer allowed to learn about such concepts if students or parents complain of feeling any discomfort, severely limiting their history and social studies curriculums and knowledge.
HB 1775, which was signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt in May, restricts teaching about institutional racism and sexism within the United States, among other issues that affect marginalized communities.
Educators denounce bill
Governor Stitt, who is infamous for his insistence on “personal responsibility,” is currently named in a lawsuit regarding his decision to end federal unemployment benefits for Oklahomans. He has yet to address educators’ “personal responsibility” to teach accurate history or social studies.
Educators across the state are appalled by the limitations that HB 1775 puts in place for teaching young people. According to the supervisor of the Board of Education representing Oklahoma City Public Schools, Paula Lewis, HB 1775 is “an outright racist and oppressive piece of legislation.”
HB 1775 was also created without the input of educators. Not a single person of Color gave input on the bill.
The rules regarding HB 1775 state that Oklahoma educators may not teach that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” and that educators may not teach that“any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex,” among other restrictions.
A spokesperson for Tulsa Public Schools, Emma Garrett-Nelson, denounced the new rules, stating “We cannot and will not teach those histories and experiences that reflect only the dominant White culture, just as we cannot and will not provide an education that deprives children of a true and accurate understanding of the world in which they live. As a public school district, we owe it to the communities we serve to teach the truth — our children and families need and deserve nothing less.”