OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Millwood Public Schools in northeast Oklahoma City is the latest public school district to officially denounce HB1775 now signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt.
In a unanimous vote Wednesday at a special meeting, the Board of Education voted to “denounce” HB1775 and recommit to the full teaching of history which will cover topics uncomfortable to some.
And, Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods described the assumptions behind the bill as “asinine.”
“None of my colleagues, none of them, received a complaint about [teaching Critical Race Theory] in the metro area and we have the most diverse kids in the metro,” said Robinson-Woods.
The bill’s language attempts to stop certain types of history teaching about U.S. racial history that might make students feel uncomfortable or upset about their own race.
Critics of the legislation believe it is intended to favor white students who might be upset when they hear about the racial history of slavery in U.S. History classes.
The term “Critical Race Theory” is not explicit in the bill. But, the authors were explicit in their statements as it advanced through the Legislature that the use of Critical Race Theory in public college and K-12 public school classrooms is what they were trying to prohibit.
The board heard the reasoning behind the motion from Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods and then from several of the board members as to why the new law’s intent is not good teaching, especially for their majority-black district.
“I don’t think there’s any teaching of Critical Race Theory in any public school, because it is not something that you teach, it’s not a curriculum it’s not a list of things to do. It’s an approach,” she said.
Robinson-Woods read through each of the eight points of the bill that detail what should be prohibited in teaching about race.
She said several of the main points of the bill she agreed with, such as treating people of other races with respect and not teaching that one race is “inherently superior to another race or sex.”
But she said one point of the bill would be difficult to enforce or even measure. The bill says that teaching on race should not make students “…feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex,…”
“To have the legislature put out something as if there’s this umbrella of science that’s telling us to think this way is just asinine,” said Robinson-Woods.
The superintendent told of her long childhood experience of being bussed to a different school each year even though her parents lived in the same house for decades.
And she recalled the experiences of most of their black teachers and students at Millwood having very real experiences with racism in Oklahoma City.
She said the attempt of the bill was “to shut down these conversations in classrooms, and to not have a teacher share what their experiences are, or a kid to share what their experiences are. And that’s where a lot of the pushback is.”
“It would be impossible to adequately teach the Tulsa race massacre and not bring up the juxtaposition between white people and black people. It’s impossible,” said Robinson-Woods.
She said that her biggest problem was that the bill is intended to cut short conversations about race that students and teachers need to have if they are truly studying the whole of our history.
Board members speak
Before the unanimous vote, the newest board member, L. Regina Richardson, said that after reading about Critical Race Theory she realized the intent of the bill.
“So, basically, they want to silence my mind and my opinion. And that’s the reason for House Bill 1775,” Richardson said.
We talked with Board President Rickey T.L. Hunt Sr. and Vice President Milo Wilson.
Wilson said, “it’s important for us to represent our community, our teachers, and our constituents” with the vote.
“It’s important that we as a district and community, get together to let everyone know that we are united against this bill,” said Hunt.
Latest among others
Millwood is the latest district in the metro to openly condemn HB1775.
Monday, Oklahoma City Public Schools voted unanimously to “denounce” the legislation. Three members of that board referred to the legislation as a “dog whistle” for those who don’t want the truth to be told about the racial history of the United States.
Last Updated May 14, 2021, 7:05 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor