OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to denounce HB1775, which prohibits teaching certain topics of race in Oklahoma schools, including critical race theory.
Every board member said they were highly upset by the signing of the bill into law. Some of them called it an “insult.” Others called it “censoring” teachers and even called it “racist.”
“It is a situation that is so egregious to me, is that for us to continue to try and shut the voices down of people in order to protect, white fragility,” said Ruth Veales, a member of the board representing district 5.
“It’s racist, it’s cowardly, it’s micromanaging,” said Meg McElhaney, school board member for district 7.
The bill affects curriculum for K-12 and prohibits mandated gender and diversity training for all university students. The State Department of Education will now be required to formulate rules and enforcement for the law.
“Not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans about race or sex,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday after he signed the bill.
“As a former educator my classroom would not have worked,” said Carole Thompson. A member of the board representing district 1. “I gave my students the opportunity to say what they needed to say and wanted to say to each other so our classrooms would run smoothly.”
The members of the Oklahoma City Public School Board of Education said they are unsure exactly what this will mean for them and their teachers moving forward.
“We’re sticking with accurate history, and we will protect our teachers,” said board chair Paula Lewis.
“It’s racist, it was a dog whistle, it was disgusting,” said Mark Mann. A board member and vice chair representing district 2.
Some of the senior board members like Ruth Veales said the conversation Monday night was necessary for Oklahoma education to move forward.
“We must be transparent. We cannot be hypocrites in this situation,” Veales said.
Friday, Stitt also said he didn’t want Oklahoma’s children defining themselves based on sex or race.
“We cannot revert to 100-year-old thinking that a person is any less valuable or inherently racist by the color of their skin,” he said.
However, board members and educators alike pointed out Monday that, that topic has never been taught in school. They said they believe the law only serves to prohibit the teaching of history in its raw form.
“If we’re not a part of the solution we’re a part of the problem.”
Other educators have also spoken out. They said the term critical race theory has not been defined in the bill nor is it established yet as to how it will be implemented.