OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new ruling from the State School Board has some educators worried about how they should go about teaching in their classrooms.

On Thursday, the State Board voted to lower Mustang Public Schools accreditation status to “accreditation with warning,” which is just one level away from probation.

Mustang Public Schools released a statement which detailed that the violation to HB 1775, also know as the CRT law, came from a lesson teaching students to work better with one another.

“Cross the Line activities originated from the anti-bullying space and were meant to help students to
develop the understanding that everyone has something that they deal with and to empathize with and
not bully or tease others,” read part of the statement.

Feelings were hurt and reported to the school district. They handled the matter internally, but the State Board felt more action was required.

“I don’t want to leave here and people to be under the impression that we’re unfairly targeting TPS [Tulsa Public Schools] when there’s another school district that had a similar violation that we’re treating differently,” said Jennifer Monies, one of the State Board members.

House Bill 1775 prohibits curriculum where, “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

Here is the full bill:

Chevis Smith teaches math at Millwood Middle School.

He said HB 1775 micro-manages the classrooms.

“You feel like somebody sits there watching you, like, ‘You better not say this. If you say this, it’s going to come back on you,'” said Smith.

Smith said the classroom is a place for kids to express their ideas with the comfort of knowing they will not fail. He encourages debate in class because it helps students grow into their own intellectual selves and fosters critical thinking.

When he started his teaching career, Smith taught history. He highlighted the importance to include all students when having class discussions.

“If you make sure all 15 [students] are engaged within what you’re teaching and understanding and knowing what’s going on, I think that eliminates the feeling of them left out or the feeling of them being attacked,” said Smith.

Katherine Bishop, the President of Oklahoma Education Association, said Thursday’s ruling “sparked fear among OEA members.”

OEA has 30,000 members statewide.

The full statement can be read below.

“The events of yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting sparked fear among OEA members. 

Oklahoma educators are professionals with integrity and strive every day to follow the law; however, yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting highlighted the fact that the vagueness in HB 1775’s language presents unnecessary challenges to an already stressed system. 

This creates significant concerns among teachers and staff, who may now be afraid to teach portions of the State Standards in fear of retaliation.

It is offensive that the majority of State Board members believe an overly punitive punishment would help deter future violations. This assumes that, without this level of punishment, teachers would break the law. 

This lack of respect for our educational professionals further exacerbates the major issue at hand: the educator shortage crisis. Oklahoma’s classroom professionals need to feel trusted and respected to teach the standards, follow the direction of their school districts, and do what is best for our kids.”

Katherine Bishop, President of Oklahoma Education Association