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A Letter in Support of the State BOE of Ohio’s Equity Resolution

June 14, 2021


To: Linda Kohler- Board President, Members of the State School Board of Ohio, and Paolo DeMaria- Superintendent of Public Instruction

From: The Board of Public Education Partners

Date: June 12, 2021

 

The members of the Board of Public Education Partners wholeheartedly support the State School Board of Ohio’s resolution to advance equity and condemn racism in our schools. We stand with the State Board of Education against white supremacy culture, hate speech, and hate crimes.

The PEP Board agrees that our public-school districts are fundamental to our democratic society. 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.

Our children deserve a proper and accurate understanding of our nation’s history and governmental institutions. Students are worthy of a culturally responsive curriculum that reflects their collective ancestry and backgrounds- one that empowers them to value every culture.

Since the path to equity begins with a deep understanding of the history of inequalities and inhumanity and how they have come to impact society, PEP strongly agrees with the State BOE’s recommendation that Ohio schools must begin to examine all facets of district operations, with a special emphasis on curriculum, hiring practices, staff development practices, and student discipline.

The PEP Board would like to thank the members of the State School Board of Ohio for considering the needs of ALL children in the development of this groundbreaking “Resolution to Condemn Racism and to Advance Equity and Opportunity for Black Students, Indigenous Students and Students of Color.”

 

Sincerely,

The Board of Public Education Partners of Ohio

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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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