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Ohio lawmakers want to ban teaching divisive concepts. Opponents mobilize to block their bill

 High school students listen to their teacher in class.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
High school students listen to their teacher in class.

The Ohio House bill, which was assigned to the State and Local Government Committee last June, hasn't had a hearing yet. But that hasn't stopped teachers, parents, and others who oppose the legislation from banning together to fight the bill that would prevent K-12 schools from teaching so-called "divisive" content. A coalition of more than 30 educational groups plans to come to the Statehouse Wednesday to speak out against it.

A group calling itself “Honesty for Ohio Education” plans to oppose the bill that "would ban teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts on race and history." Pete Van Lier is one of the founders of the group and says the goal in school should not be to avoid controversy.

“It might make people uncomfortable and that’s part of education – stretching ourselves and learning more about things we might not have known," Van Lier says.

 A confrontation at the anti-"critical race theory" protest at the Ohio Department of Education on September 20, 2021, between a counterprotestor and a supporter of bills to ban the teaching of what sponsors call "divisive concepts" on race, history and public policy.
A confrontation at the anti-"critical race theory" protest at the Ohio Department of Education on September 20, 2021, between a counterprotestor and a supporter of bills to ban the teaching of what sponsors call "divisive concepts" on race, history and public policy.

Republicans nationwide as well as here in Ohio have been talking a lot about parental rights when it comes to what students are being taught. Critical Race Theory, a graduate school concept not taught in K-12 schools in Ohio, is often referred to as the catchphrase for teaching about issues involving race or gender. The Republican sponsors of this legislation say it would give parents more of a voice in what their children learn. In addition to this bill, there is another that would ban the teaching of so-called "critical race theory" in Ohio public schools. That bill hasn't yet been assigned to a committee.

Recently, the College Board, which accredits high school AP classes, laid out seven principles that must be met in order for students to get credit. Those include "fostering an open-minded approach to the histories and cultures of different peoples." The College Board also says it opposes indoctrination and censorship. Calls placed to the College Board for comment were not returned.

There's no word yet on when the "divisive" concepts bill will be heard in committee.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.