Sunday, August 07, 2022

Small: “Woke” trend not inevitable in Oklahoma schools

“Woke” trend not inevitable in Oklahoma schools
By Jonathan Small

National and state headlines may lead Oklahoma parents to fear “woke” indoctrination in public schools is inevitable and cannot be stopped. That’s not the case.

Indeed, actions taken in recent years are already bearing fruit.

A 2021 law, HB 1775, banned classroom instruction or staff training that advocates that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” Thanks to that law, State Board of Education was recently able to penalize both Tulsa Public Schools and the Mustang district for violating the anti-Critical Race Theory law.

Similarly, Tulsa schools backed down and yanked inappropriate, sexually graphic books from the school library after public outcry. The books were so bad that not only did Republicans denounce them, but even Democratic gubernatorial nominee Joy Hofmeister, who declared them “pornography that does not belong in any public-school library.”

Parents are ready to work with policymakers to further fix problems.

In the 2023 session, lawmakers can enact the following public-school reforms.

  • Require schools to post all training materials and curriculum online for easy parental review.
  • Pass protections for teachers, including for those who report violations of laws like HB 1775, and provide state-funded liability insurance coverage for teachers.
  • Require active consent for content not mandated by state academic standards. Parents note they often must proactively opt-out a child from sexual and other sensitive discussions, often without knowing much in advance about the instructional content.
  • Require annual reauthorization for union-dues withholding, making it easier for dissatisfied teachers to leave a union.
  • Allow for school-board recall elections, better control the process by which boards can appoint someone to complete a vacated board seat during a term, and move school-board elections to the November general ballot, giving parents far more influence over the selection of board members and a way to address poor performance.

These are simple, common-sense reforms that will increase transparency, facilitate public scrutiny, and allow accountability.

Oklahomans are not doomed to see their schools go woke. The voices of the majority carry more clout than the loud-but-tiny minority of activists.

As the father of five daughters ages two to 16, I share the concerns of many Oklahoma parents. At OCPA, we research, develop, promote and advance public policy based on the conservative principles of free markets, limited government, individual initiative, personal responsibility and empowering families. The above reforms, and many others giving parents more input and control in what public schools teach their children, align perfectly with OCPA and conservative principles.

With the encouragement of citizens like you, Oklahoma lawmakers are up the task of weeding out indoctrination in public schools. We at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs look forward to working with them and parents to advance these and other crucial reforms.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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