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A Resolution Template for Expressing Opposition to Ohio House Bill 616

June 15, 2022

During its monthly regular meeting in May, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing Ohio House Bill 616. HB 616 is promoted as an intent to amend and enact sections of the Revised Code regarding the so-called promotion and teaching of “divisive” or “inherently racist” concepts in Ohio’s public schools.

Other school districts, higher education institutions, government bodies, students, families, non-profits, businesses, and communities are invited to stand with CH-UH and speak out against this proposed limitation of a foundational principle of democracy — education.

Ask your local school board if it has taken the time to pass a resolution opposing House Bill 616. If the BOE hasn’t done so, please share this easy-to-copy-and-paste text based on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education’s statement, as well as some language from other school districts around Ohio, and encourage board members to personalize and pass a resolution:

 

A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING OPPOSITION TO OHIO HOUSE BILL 616

WHEREAS, Ohio House Bill 616 has been introduced to amend and enact sections of the Revised Code regarding the promotion and teaching of so-called divisive or racist concepts in Ohio’s public schools; and

WHEREAS, provisions within this bill are contrary to the values of the __________________ Board of Education, which intentionally creates school environments where students and staff can learn, work and live with dignity and respect- free from fear and violence and protected against racism and discrimination; and

WHEREAS, far from eliminating racism and discrimination, House Bill 616 would perpetuate racism and discrimination and would limit the concepts, ideas, and materials that may be taught and used in the classroom to combat racism and other forms of discrimination; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 616 is poorly written, allowing the State Board of Education to define concepts it finds to be “divisive” or not “age and developmentally appropriate.” We remind the legislature that the only licensed educator currently on our State Board of Education opposes HB 616; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education is concerned that HB 616 seeks to limit candid conversations about race and gender identity in our schools, spaces in which all children should feel safe and welcome. The Board of Education is further concerned that HB 616 embraces fear and would exacerbate a mental health crisis that already exists within our schools and community in the wake of the pandemic; and

WHEREAS, the ___________________ Board of Education urges legislators to return to their traditional “home rule” stance by not imposing their cultural agenda onto our community.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the ___________________ Board of Education believes that our state licensed professional teachers and administrators are best qualified to make decisions regarding the appropriateness of instructional materials and educational techniques in our classrooms.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the _____________________ Board of Education strongly opposes Ohio House Bill 616 and requests that our state legislators not only vote this bill and others like it down, but to condemn the divisiveness caused to the students and families of Ohio.

The Superintendent is directed to forward this resolution to the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.

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Voices

Dawn’s Story

I am a public school teacher in Oberlin, Ohio. As I do year after year, I had my fifth-graders write editorials for the Newspaper in Education contest sponsored by our local Chronicle-Telegram newspaper. And as I always do, I gave the students free choice to choose their topics and to come up with their own polished submissions.

When so many of them started writing about testing, I freaked out a little because prior to this month’s AIR testing, I had rarely even mentioned the topic to them, refusing to stress them out about the upcoming three weeks of testing. I sent some of their work to our principal with a note that said, in so many words, “Holy smokes, look at what these kids are saying. I promise that I haven’t been stressing them out about these tests!” She wrote back saying she thought their submissions sounded just fine.

I’m so thankful to have a principal who values our students’ feelings.

When I talked to the kids about the testing, I told them how surprised I was by their topic choices and asked why they were feeling so worried. After all, I told them, I had barely mentioned the topic and told them I’d be the last person to put pressure on them or try to stress them out. One student told me, “You are working with the wrong kids, Mrs. Randall. You don’t have to stress us out. We stress ourselves out enough for all of us.”

They then started sharing stories about last year’s PARCC test, when they tested on and off from February through May when they were in 4th-grade. They shared about how scared they were that they wouldn’t pass the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee reading test the year before that and then fail the entire year. Ohio legislation is insane.

But worst of all, one student said, “This is the third new kind of test we’ve had in three years. When will Ohio get this right?”

This same student was the one who took it upon himself to go to the Ohio Department of Education website on his Chromebook and research his topic and find out that some schools were able to still do paper/pencil tests, and he was pretty upset that he couldn’t.

I sent a note to the newspaper staff member about all their submissions and she told me to please not censor their writing, but to send it all in. She wanted to see it all.

Today, I opened the newspaper supplement to these two student submissions ruling a whole spread. Apparently, the judges heard them loud and clear and felt their words needed to be heard by our community.

All this high-stakes testing is really starting to take a toll on kids. When will our legislature hear and care about their voices?

Each child in my class is the SAME child who has been forced to sit through high-stakes testing year after year after year. When will enough be enough?

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