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Two bills that target the teaching of “divisive” issues in Ohio’s schools continue to be discussed in committee after being introduced last year.
The proposed legislation, House Bills 322 and 237, caused a public furor across the state amid the politicized controversy over so-called critical race theory last summer and into the fall, but the status of the bills has garnered little public attention in 2022.
Specifically, House Bill 322 opposes “the teaching of certain current events and certain concepts regarding race and sex in public schools,” as summarized in its official title. Expanding 322’s intent, HB 327 seeks “to prohibit school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and state agencies from teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts,” according to its summary.
Both bills were introduced May 25 with Republican partisan support and sent to the House’s State and Local Government Committee on June 10.
The proposed legislation has since remained at the committee stage, with the most recent action involving a revision to HB 327 adopted Feb. 16. The committee was scheduled to meet this week, on Wednesday, March 9, and while neither bill was on the agenda distributed in advance of the meeting, opponents feared HB 327 might be presented for a vote that would send it to the House floor for consideration by the larger body.
Supporters of the bills say they work to promote America’s core values and seek to curtail the dissemination of concepts considered detrimental to students and society, particularly regarding race and American history. Opponents say the proposed legislation dangerously limits educational freedom, “whitewashes” history and further marginalizes students of color and LGBTQ students. In addition teachers would be under scrutiny to conform to the bills’ mandates, with their jobs in jeopardy if they stray.