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RIP, State BOE Equity Resolution- Gone, but not Forgotten

November 16, 2021

There was nationwide support for the State School Board of Ohio’s Resolution 20 (P. 57-59) to advance equity and condemn racism in our schools, which was passed in 2020. Many agreed that we must all be dedicated to equity and to the thoughtful teaching of our children that racism, bigotry and hatred should have no place in our country, state, and system of schools and that our children are worthy of a culturally responsive curriculum that reflects their collective ancestry and backgrounds- one that empowers them to value every culture.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, “the resolution became a lightning rod in the debate over teaching about race in Ohio classrooms, drawing dozens of protesters and counter-protesters to state board meetings in recent months. Opponents of Resolution 20 said its wording intentionally opened the door for districts to teach ‘disturbing’ and ‘divisive’ material about racism and identity and that lesson plans would go against America’s founding principles and divide kids into oppressors and the oppressed.”

Regrettably, Ohio’s State Board of Education repealed its anti-racism resolution in October 2021 and replaced it with Resolution 13 that condemns “any teachings that seek to divide.”

Cheers for the Akron Public Schools Board of Education, which condemned recent action taken by the State BOE of Ohio to repeal its anti-racism resolution! Education advocates look forward to similar actions by other school boards around the Buckeye State.

Though the recommendations for Ohio schools were repealed by Resolution 13, state board member Christina Collins said she thinks a lot of that work will continue. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t prohibit anything,” Collins said. “it isn’t law, and it doesn’t force districts to do anything different.”

Ohio school districts can even copy/paste and personalize this template to pass their own anti-racism resolutions:

_________________________ Board of Education Resolution
(Language adopted from the Ohio State Board of Education’s Preamble and Resolution of July 14, 2020)

RESOLUTION TO CONDEMN RACISM AND TO ADVANCE EQUITY AND OPPORTUNITY FOR BLACK STUDENTS, INDIGENOUS STUDENTS AND STUDENTS OF COLOR

The _____________________ Board of Education hereby ADOPTS the following Resolution:

Whereas the Ohio State Board of Education passed a Resolution to Condemn Racism and Advance Equity and Opportunity for Black Students, Indigenous Students and Students of Color in 2020; and

Whereas the Ohio Educator Standards Board voted unanimously in June 2021 to support the Ohio State Board of Education’s Resolution to Condemn Racism and Advance Equity and Opportunity for BIPOC students; and

Whereas the Ohio Strategic Plan for Education: 2019-2024 Each Child, Our Future, adopted by a resolution of the State Board of Education in June, 2018 begins with the vision that in Ohio each child is challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient, lifelong learner who contributes to society; and

Whereas a culturally responsive curriculum reflects the history and background of all students, and empowers students to value all cultures, not just their own; and

Whereas research has shown that a culturally responsive curriculum can motivate students of color to a higher level of academic achievement and in many cases increase the graduation rate of previously disengaged students; and

Whereas the ____________ Board of Education believes that public schools are fundamental to a democratic society, and we must be dedicated to equity and thoughtful teaching of future citizens that racism, bigotry and hatred have no place; and

Whereas, the path to equity begins with a deep understanding of the history of inequalities and inhumanity and how they have come to impact current society; and

Whereas the State Board of Education strongly recommended in 2020 that all Ohio school districts begin a reflection and internal examination of their own involving all members of their school community to examine all facets of the school’s operations; with a special emphasis on curriculum, hiring practices, staff development practices, and student discipline e.g., suspension/expulsion; therefore, be it

Resolved that the __________ Board of Education condemns, in the strongest possible terms, white supremacy culture, hate speech, hate crimes and violence in the service of hatred. These immoral ideologies and actions deserve no place in our country, state and school system. And be it

Further resolved, that the ___________ Board of Education will be led by our guiding mission and vision as we develop policy and advocate to serve our students from a perspective of equity, anti-racism, and anti-bias.

 

Public school districts are fundamental to our democratic society, so our children deserve a proper and accurate understanding of our nation’s history and governmental institutions.

The path to equity begins with a deep understanding of the history of inequalities and inhumanity and how they have come to impact society.

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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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