Ohio Federation of Teachers, Innovation Ohio Host "Speak Out for Honesty in Education"

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 24, 2021

CONTACT:

Neil Bhaerman, 412-266-4899, nbhaerman@oft-aft.org

Rachel Coyle, 419-351-5844, coyle@InnovationOhio.org

Video of this event can be downloaded here.

Ohio Federation of Teachers, Innovation Ohio Host "Speak Out for Honesty in Education"

COLUMBUS — Today, Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Federation of Teachers co-hosted a virtual "speak out" against deceptive attacks on honesty in education which aim to prohibit schools from teaching accurate history about racism, sexism, prejudice, and other issues. Educators, parents, and allies spoke about the dangers of curriculum bans and urged Ohioans to stand for honest, accurate, diverse education in schools.

“It’s our job to provide an honest and accurate education for all our students, and that includes covering difficult topics with age-appropriate lessons and conversations,” said OFT President Melissa Cropper. “That’s why educators are speaking out against the politicians and pundits who have been stoking fears and spreading lies about what’s happening in Ohio’s classrooms. We won’t let them divide our communities and erode trust in our public schools.” 

The event was organized in response to efforts by some Republican politicians and pundits who are using lies about Critical Race Theory to justify bans on curriculum and on programs that advance equity and inclusion within schools. Two of these curriculum bans have been introduced in Ohio (House Bills 322 and 327). Both bills have already started receiving hearings in the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee. 

"One bill requires historical oppression to be taught impartially,” said Desiree Tims, President and CEO of Innovation Ohio. “How do you teach slavery and segregation impartially? If we don't tell students that slavery is bad, aren’t we taking the side of the oppressor? Students need an honest, accurate education."

Nearly two dozen educators, parents, students, and allies spoke out about these harmful bills. Here are excerpts from their comments: 

  • Meryl Johnson, Ohio State Board of Education member for District 11 and retired English teacher in Cleveland schools: “One of the most important parts of a successful teaching and learning experience is a trusting relationship...How can a child develop a trusting relationship with a teacher who isn’t allowed to teach the truth? How are students supposed to try and make sense of this violent world when their teachers are afraid to bring up certain topics?”
  • Kendra Phelps, a Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) teacher and the parent of a CPS student: “I see the language of House Bills 322 & 327 as a way to stifle the current movement to provide our children with an education that empowers them to bring about change which will make our country and our world better.”
  • Lydia Jones, a case worker for Franklin County Children Services:  "Critical race theory is not being taught to elementary age children; it’s being taught at the collegiate level. What these bills seek to actually ban, at the elementary, middle school, and collegiate level, is the voice of truth and justice for all...Working with Child Protective Services, I understand first hand the harm that is done to a child’s development when those individuals entrusted to care for them lie and create further barriers to that child’s understanding.”
  • Heather Stambaugh, American History teacher for Greenon Local Schools: “To ban controversial issues is detrimental to the student’s abilities to genuinely ask questions and discover answers. What today seems divisive is history and threads in the fabric of America. Disagreement can often lead to solutions. Speaking and listening to ideas and thoughts of others, even those you do not align with can help one to better understand the world and themselves.”

The full event can be viewed on Facebook, or downloaded at this link

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