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Oklahoma lawmaker calls for transparency over critical race theory violation

State Representative Regina Goodwin
Posted at 3:55 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 09:45:37-04

TULSA, Okla. — A state representative is asking the State Department of Education to produce evidence that shows a violation of the law banning critical race theory in Oklahoma schools.

State Rep. Regina Goodwin hosted a news conference Friday morning with local and state leaders. It comes after the State Board of Education found that the spirit of a training conducted for staff by Tulsa Public Schools was “contradictory to the law.”

“I wanted to see the segments, the audio, the video, the text, the slides, whatever it might be, that they interpret as violating 1775," Goodwin says. "Produce that."

Goodwin says she was provided an 18-minute professional development training video in question, but no one has specified what exactly broke the law.

“We want to see evidence that the trash law of 1775 was violated by materials that were taught to teachers for professional development at Memorial,” Goodwin says.

The law bans teaching that anyone is inherently racist or sexist and bans teaching that anyone should feel guilt or discomfort because of their race or sex. The State Department of Education says they got a complaint that professional development training provided to staff at Tulsa Public Schools violated the law.

During the June State Board of Education meeting held yesterday, the OSDE recommended ‘accreditation with deficiency for Tulsa Public Schools in response to a professional development training provided to staff earlier this year. In our minds, it was a close call, but we believe the spirit of that training was contradictory to the law. The Board will deliberate and vote on our recommendation at the July Board meeting. This is only the third complaint we’ve received statewide since HB 1775 was signed into law. Two of the three have been about Tulsa Public Schools. We found no violation in the first complaint, and it was not a close call on that complaint.

Goodwin says a teacher at Memorial High School made that complaint.

“Show me the proof. Show it to us. You have an obligation to show us,” said Joyce Smith-Williams, who has a grandson that goes to Memorial High School. “Anyone that could be so narrow in their focus and consider themselves an educator causes me concern."

During June’s State School Board meeting, the State Department of Education recommended changing the Tulsa Public School District’s status to “accreditation with deficiency.”

Tulsa Public Schools gave 2 News Oklahoma the following statement on Friday:

"Parents of children in Tulsa have been clear. They want us to focus on their child’s educational success and the joy of learning. Our children must be able to engage, learn, play, study, explore, and share with their friends and their teachers without politicians and other adults in Oklahoma inserting politics–from left or the right–into our schools. Unfortunately, Governor Stitt continues to persist in an effort that he and Ryan Walters have to scare Oklahoma families into believing that a law school academic body of work known as 'critical race theory' is in our elementary and secondary schools. This is nonsense.

In Tulsa, we have a commitment to every child, and we want every family–no matter their income, race, religion, partisan affiliation, or any other difference–to know that they are welcomed and supported by our schools. In fact, we believe that diversity of background, culture, and beliefs is what makes us strong and makes public schools so important to a healthy community.

Our superintendent’s response to all of this is: 'Knock it off. We need to focus on serving Tulsa kids.'"

The district says they cannot provide 2 News Oklahoma a copy of the training materials as they're protected by federal law which protects proprietary information and copyright material. The author allowed the district to share the material with the State Department of Education to fully respond to the complaint.

“Who wants their school district to be deficient in any way, particularly as it relates to race and concepts of how we deal with each other as human beings,” Goodwin said.

Board members will vote on the recommendation on June 28. Goodwin says if they can’t get specific evidence, they want the recommendation changed before the board meeting.

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