Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Schools in Ohio have become political battlegrounds focused on topics such as masks, Critical Race Theory, LGBTQ, sexism and most absurdly of all — divisive concepts.

These are not just interesting political debates, these topics are included in bills introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives.

There is a real attempt in Columbus by the far right to gain control of Ohio’s schools.

Just recently, two members of the State Board of Education, Laura Kohler and Eric Poklar, were forced by Gov. Mike DeWine to resign because they opposed rescinding a board statement made in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The statement acknowledged that “profound disparities between Black, Indigenous and People of Color … students and their white peers exist in all parts of the Ohio education system.” DeWine bowed to extremists in his own party.

While the Ohio House and the Ohio School Board have a legitimate role in setting standards for high quality education and funding, they should not be invading the domain of local classrooms.

The bill is a stark nod to authoritarian regimes and dictators who use the censorship of educators to silence those who do not align with their extremist ideologies or political agendas.

HB327 now moving through the Ohio House of Representatives has many problems, but I draw your attention to the teaching of “divisive” concepts. No definition of “divisive” is given, but the penalties for teaching such information at all school levels are severe: teachers could lose their careers forever and school districts could lose all their state funding. Academic freedom will end. Critical thinking and open debate will be sacrificed.

Other bills will unconstitutionally channel funding from the “common” (public) schools to private and voucher schools, which often operate without educational and/or financial oversite.

Take action to save the public schools. Let Rep. Haraz Ghambari and DeWine know you do not support these bizarre ideas. Your silence will allow these ideas to become law.

Lee Hakel

Bowling Green