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Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Ban Critical Race Theory In Ohio Schools

desks in a classroom
Creative Commons

Ohio has joined the list of around a dozen states where Republican lawmakers are attempting to ban schools from teaching critical race theory, a concept that’s been around for more than 40 years as a way to examine race and inequality as a systemic problem in American society.

The announcement of the introduction to ban critical race theory in Ohio's K-12 schools comes on the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd - an event that sparked conversations around the world about race, along with resolutions at the Statehouse and in some Ohio cities to declare racism a public health crisis.

In a statement announcing his bill, Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) wrote “students should not be asked to ‘examine their whiteness’ or ‘check their privilege.’”

In his statement, Jones also wrote that critical race theory conflicts with the state's founding documents curriculum such as the Declaration of Independence and the state and U.S. Constitutions.

“Critical race theory is a dangerous and flat-out wrong theory. It is designed to look at everything from a ‘race first’ lens, which is the very definition of racism. CRT claiming to fight racism is laughable," Jones wrote.

Jones’ bill has 27 co-sponsors, all Republicans.

Supporters of critical race theory have said that it’s a more honest way to study history and public policy such as post-Civil War treatment of blacks, health disparities by zip code and redlining.

It's unclear how many, or even if any schools are teaching critical race theory. The State Board of Education sets standards for education but doesn't promote any particular curriculum.

It also comes a few days after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joined 19 other AGs in writing to the U.S. Department of Education, opposing critical race theory and a proposal to prioritize the teaching of it for federal grant programs.

In their May 19 letter, the AGs said of critical race theory: "it distorts, rather than illuminates, a proper and accurate understanding of our nation's history and governmental institutions and, therefore, is fundamentally at odds with federal and state law."