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State Board of Education passes temporary rules on teaching critical race theory

Posted at 7:26 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 06:37:10-04

TULSA, Okla. — House Bill 1775 is now in effect. It bans schools from teaching that individuals are inherently racist through critical race theory.

Now, seventeen Republican lawmakers called on the State Board of Education to lay down clear rules on how teachers talk about race. Senator David Bullard (R) led the Republicans asking the board for clear guidelines so it is not left up to teachers to make their own interpretation of HB 1775.

State Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister and the board met Monday to discuss those guidelines. In a 5-1 vote, the board passed a set of temporary rules. It now heads to Governor Stitt’s office for final review.

READ MORE: Gov. Stitt signs bill limiting race, gender curriculums in Oklahoma schools

The board also said these guidelines need to be addressed now especially with the school year just around the corner. Proponents of the bill said the concept of critical race theory is discriminatory and makes students believe systemic racism is a part of American society. Opponents of HB 1755 believe it is an integral part of American history that should never be forgotten.

“I think this bill is trying to put blinders on the truth, blinders on the truth of the history of this country, the history of this state, the history of Tulsa, Oklahoma,” civil rights historian from Tulsa, Quraysh Ali Lansana said.

"We can and should teach this history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex," Gov. Kevin Stitt said.

Hofmeister said teachers should feel confident about teaching our history. She said the Oklahoma Academic Standards will still be taught.

“It does include the Tulsa Race Massacre, the sovereignty of our tribal nations," Hofmeister said. "Other things that are difficult and can cause students to reflect and feel uncomfortable at times.”

READ MORE: Tulsa Public Schools says current curriculum is fine under HB 1775

Tulsa Public Schools released this statement regarding Monday's board of education vote:

The choice of equity as one of our leading core values reflects our intentional decision to be a district that supports culturally-responsive instructional practices; cultivates classrooms where all children feel seen, heard, valued, and affirmed; and works urgently to identify and dismantle the systemic practices and structures that have sustained racism for far too long.

We are disappointed that the Oklahoma State Board of Education has voted to approve rules pursuant to HB1775 that were not made available to school districts or to state board members until this morning. Our team became aware of the Oklahoma State Board of Education’s intention to consider rules on Friday, July 9. We did not see any drafts of the proposed rules or receive any indication of their scope or breadth until the draft was posted online this morning. The lack of notice, the disregard for the operational needs of the public school districts it serves, and the absence of engagement with those who will bear the burden of these rules demonstrate a lack of transparency in the Oklahoma State Board of Education’s process for considering an issue of such magnitude. We are grateful to Board member Williams for advocating on behalf of our students and schools and in support of educational experiences grounded in truth.

Tulsa Public Schools will not make any changes to our lessons responsive to HB 1775 or to today’s action by the Oklahoma State Board of Education as our approach is firmly grounded in both the Oklahoma State Standards and in the belief that one human being is not “worth” more than another. We are teaching our children an accurate - and at times painful, difficult, and uncomfortable - history about our shared human experience. 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.
Tulsa Public Schools

Hofmeister acknowledged the rules process was not transparent. She said there are plans to discuss permanent rules with more inclusion in the fall and winter.

“We’ll be able to work together with those stakeholders, with community members and those who serve in schools to work through these areas that need greater refinement, greater clarity and in some cases maybe even make some modifications," Hofmeister said.

For a full list of those guidelines, CLICK HERE.

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