By Jim Holland
A pharmacist here in town wrote letters to his state senator and state representative. He complained about a then new mandate—child-proof caps on drug containers. His phone rang.
Both legislators began their call, “I feel like the boy whose Dad has taken him to the wood shed and he still don’t know what he did.” Child-proof caps is federal. They plead not guilty. Harmony restored.
Oklahoma teachers feel like that boy taken to the wood shed. On the news, they hear they have, by law and penalty, been prohibited for teaching Critical Race Theory.
Like 99.44% of Oklahomans, 99.44% of Oklahoma teachers had never heard of such a thing. Is it something they had been doing all along unawares, like speaking prose?
To help teachers out, the Oklahoma State Board of Education published this:General Prohibition. No teacher, administrator or other school employee shall require or make part of any Course offered in a public school the following discriminatory principles:(1) One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,(2) An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist oroppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously:
(3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex,
(4) Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex,
(5) An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex,(6) An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex,
(7) Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex, or(8) Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were createdby members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.
That did help, for now teachers know is wasn’t something they had been doing all along. Not guilty. Also, they learned that their research into Critical Race Theory was a waste of time. CRT taught as an elective in elite law schools ain’t those eight bullets.
I like to think the men who organized the government of Oklahoma Territory and Oklahoma later were strong for common education, eight grades worth. Nine normal schools to supply teachers, school houses on high ground within two miles of most homes, and a local funding source to pay for the operation are evidence. The nonpartisan election of local school boards is proof those men thought schools too important for politics.
As local funding failed to be adequate, freedom from state legislators faded. It began as benign as mandating school doors open outward—after a tragic fire. It has come to this.
Child-proof caps is about children. This isn’t.
Likely the vote “yes” by the legislators who represent Duncan and Stephens County was a Republican caucus thing. Equally likely, once the ink has dried on the implementing regulations nothing will be heard of it forever more.
Still yet, it is on the books and is not coming off for a long, long time. Setting there like an undetonated bomb. I know of nothing like it in the statute books. It’s a handle.
A handle for a politically active citizen who comes to be offended by the face of a teacher to grab. “She makes my child feel discomfort, guilt, and anguish on account of his or her race.”
A handle for book banning. Or maybe “Huckleberry Finn” has already been removed. Willian Faulkner (Noble prize, literature, 1952) wrote pages and pages that make the racism he lived with in Mississippi look destructive—bad for both races. His books could go.
Since for 99.44% of Oklahomans CRT was a new idea to them in 2021, it is a wonder that it sprang up like a bush fire in the legislature this spring. Must be outside agitators.
If the intent was to stir up fear and disharmony, which is equally likely with ignorance, then give the agitators a score of mission accomplished.