Ohio’s State Board of Education repealed an anti-racism resolution Wednesday night and replaced it with one condemning any teachings that “seek to divide.”
“It’s not nearly as aggressive,” board member John Hagan said in an interview. “It doesn’t do any of the things that frankly I disagreed with.”
Resolution 20, which Hagan and a number of other board members disliked from the beginning, passed in July 2020 – just a few weeks after the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer.
It condemned hate crimes and white supremacy movements “in the strongest possible terms,” but it also directed the Ohio Department of Education to teach its employees about implicit bias. Local school boards were asked to review their graduation rates, discipline records and classroom resources.
Supporters called the resolution an important step towards understanding why students of color score lower on Ohio’s standardized exams, are less likely to graduate and take fewer Advanced Placement classes than their white counterparts.
Opponents, however, argued that those directives opened the door for districts to teach “disturbing” and “divisive” material about racism and identity.
Board member Brandon Shea called it “a crisis in our nation and our country.”
So, he drafted Resolution 13 with the intent of repealing those recommendations.
His original draft raised concerns about Ohio’s achievement gaps, but it also “observed not only a growing national divide but a troubling focus on the color of one’s skin rather than on the content of one’s character.”
And it condemned something called critical race theory, saying teachings had no place in Ohio’s K-12 education system.
That didn’t make it into the final version though.
Instead, Resolution 13 condemns “any standards, curriculum, or training programs for students, teachers, or staff that seek to ascribe circumstances or qualities, such as collective guilt, moral deficiency, or racial bias, to a whole race or group of people.”
Board member Meryl Johnson voted against it.
She said she still strongly believes in the anti-racism resolution the board passed last year.
“Even though the resolution of July 2020 was rescinded, I’m glad to say the work will not stop,” she said.
This story will be updated.
Anna Staver is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.