The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to denounce House Bill 1775. Here are my prepared comments that I read from during our discussion:
I taught at a diverse high school here in the metro, and I will say that the conversations that happened in my classroom would absolutely have been illegal under House Bill 1775. We often discussed representation in the media. My kids had fierce, honest debates. They questioned one another. They questioned me. They disagreed. They looked through all kinds of prisms, like race, gender, age, poverty, and geography. They learned so much from the perspectives of one another, especially the experiences and histories of their families.
Students want and need to discuss historic and current events in the context of their own lives and communities. This bill comes from a fear of learning and a disdain for empathy. Like so many bills that try to micromanage our classrooms, House Bill 1775 does not come from educators. It does not come from administrators. It comes from politicians who haven’t been in a classroom since they were students. It comes from fear. It comes from fragility.
We ask so much of teachers, and this year, we have asked even more as our kids seek to understand the pandemic, the racial justice movement, and their place in the world. I overheard one of my daughter’s teachers the morning after a particularly difficult day in our country. She allowed her students to talk about their feelings, and they chimed in on their little virtual squares. Some could only bear to type how they felt in the chat box. She concluded with, “I love you, and I see you.”
That’s what our children need: to be loved and to be seen. When we refuse to see them, including how the world treats them, we cannot love them wholly for who they are.