Sunday, July 18, 2021

How About Schools Teach Every Student To Read, Write, And Calculate At Grade Level?

WaPo  |  This week at the Oklahoma State Department of Education building, I was schooled in how the stealthy, well-orchestrated movement against teaching honestly about America’s racist history operates. It is fast and furious and determined to steamroll over truth in education.

But Monday morning, one Black woman and a Black high school student tried to hold the line. Though they were on the losing side of that steamroll — this is Oklahoma, after all — their courage and resistance in the face of white supremacy deserve to be celebrated.

The occasion was consideration of item 8(b) on the Oklahoma Board of Education’s meeting agenda: emergency rules for implementing a bill passed in May by the Republican-controlled state legislature limiting what students in the state can be taught on race and gender. Notice of the item was publicly posted only last Friday, giving educators and advocates next to no time to organize a response. The actual rules, too, were made available just minutes before the meeting. They included chillingly harsh penalties, such as teacher suspensions and district defunding, for instruction that makes any individual feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

Carlisha Williams Bradley arrived knowing she would cast one of the most consequential votes of her professional life. The only Black member of the board, she wondered whether she would be removed from her position for pushing back. But the education advocate and former executive director of Tulsa Legacy Charter School spoke truth: that the right-wing’s current bête noire, “critical race theory” — which the legislature claimed to be responding to — means merely the examination of laws and legislation that uphold racism and oppression. Oklahoma’s new education law and harsh punishment, she said, would serve only to generate fear in teaching an accurate history of the United States.

“We are robbing students of the opportunity to have a high-quality education,” Williams Bradley said.

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