Friends! This is a long one- full of historical tidbits of information, mind-blowing facts, proposed laws, and a hint of frustration. Bear with me…
Regardless of where we are in the world- it has been a rough three years! The very foundation of what makes humans function- physical interaction, freedom of movement, decision-making rights, and medical necessities has been taken from us by governments, company CEOs, and local politicians.
What has held us together, in my humble opinion, is the ability to learn still- to explore the world through the written word, virtual tours, or through my favorite program- Google.com. It has been a relief to many that schools were still attempting to teach, communicate, and grow the children who will one day inherit this world- and all the good and bad that comes with it.
In my role as a mother, employee, wife, supporter of nurses, first responders, the military, and the freedom to learn and understand why yucky things have happened in the world- I rarely will ever comment on current situations. These days, taking a political, social, or economic stance will open up a world of hatred, nastiness, and could get you into some serious legal trouble, especially when you use the word ‘Karen.’ (Sorry to all people who were named Karen by their parents!)
This belief was reinforced when interviewing for a job recently- the interviewees questioned me if I could hold my tongue on my personal views on religion, government, race, culture, and current affairs. After 20 plus years in the military, I have no fear of my ability not to state my genuine opinion and only follow the rules and regulations put forth to me. Even as a child, I was taught that children were not allowed to have an idea because we were ‘not old’ enough to form one. Going to family dinners or events- there was always a list of items that were not allowed to be brought up- divorces, politics, religion, military affairs, global concerns, etc…
Even now, when I disagree with a political, religious, or matter that deals with the military, law enforcement, or the numerous ‘COVID’ arguments- I am shut down. I am yelled at and bombarded with continuous ridicule on my beliefs because I may not fall in line with the person I am talking to. So I do not talk about them. Instead, my conversations deal with books, gardening, things my husband wants to buy, what’s for dinner, and when the shelves will be restocked at Fred Meyers.
HOWEVER, my dear friends, this current situation has me unable to go further without stating my distaste for what was presented!
Writers note- these are proposed bills. They have not been voted on or enacted.
Student’s Religious Belief Protection Act- introduced by Oklahoma Senator Rob Standridge:
This bill proposes an option for parents to sue teachers for $10,000 for contradicting a student’s religious beliefs. According to Forbes Maginze-
-If the school does not immediately comply, the parents or guardians may refile against any and all district employees “directly or indirectly” promoting those positions. Those individuals can be held liable for a minimum of $10,000 in damages (per incident, per individual). They must pay that money out of their pocket; if they receive any “assistance from individuals or groups,” they must be fired and cannot be re-employed within the state for five years.
-If the school does not immediately comply with either 1 or 2, parents may sue them again. All directly or indirectly involved individuals may be fired and permanently barred from working in any public school in the state.
-It will also allow parents to demand the removal of any books perceived as anti-religious. This can include topics like evolution, the big bang theory, and even birth control.
All this was introduced a month after Standridge proposed a bill that would ban books that had anything to do with sex, gender, and identity from public schools.
Wait! What? Okay- so let’s break this down very quickly!
Initially, I think that no one should feel uncomfortable about their religion! However, I believe that many times a person is made to believe that either you can be religious OR you can support the current ideals of society. There are no in-between paths. That is highly unfair to everyone.
I think that all parents, teachers, and students should have the ability to have an open conversation about topics that directly affect them. It may not change the curriculum- but acknowledges both sides of the thought process. If a parent feels that a school does not fall within their religious belief system, then find a school that does! Private schools, religious-based schools, and home schools exist because parents and students would be taught within a specific boundary! Freedom of education in a setting that suits you… it’s a fundamental right.
However, what is concerning to me is that there are topics outlined in Oklahoma’s Official Academic Standards for Science, such as the topic of evolution, which would now be illegal to teach. Also, what religious belief? Christianity? Judaism? Atheist? It can’t be Atheist because Oklahoma requires the Pledge of Allegiance, which says ‘one nation under God.’
What should not happen is that a teacher is fined $10,000 for a disagreement of teaching methods (by a professional) and then told that communities cannot help pay for that fine! Wasn’t it just a few years ago that politicians, actors/actresses, and sports professionals were paying someone’s legal fees for crimes? But teachers are not afforded the same luxury? To top it off- can parents come back and sue again for a teacher’s license? A professional teacher is now allowed to be questioned and disbarred by a non-professional based on a personal religious view?
It gets better!
Jim Olsen filed House Bill 2988 this month, and it states according to NBC News that:
The bill prohibits state agencies and public school districts from placing culpability on one race and teaching “that one race is the unique oppressor” or “another race is the unique victim in the institution of slavery.”
Further, the bill bans teaching that “America has more culpability, in general than other nations for the institute of slavery” or that the purpose for the founding of America was “the initiation and perpetuation of slavery.”
Another stipulation of the bill is to ban teaching that America “had slavery more extensively and for a later period of time than other nations.”
It also prohibits the use of the 1619 Project, a long-form journalism endeavor by The New York Times that examined slavery’s role in the founding of America.
Okay, I can kind of see where we were trying to go here. I assume that the bill was meant to encourage teachers to tell the whole history of slavery from beginning to end. However, that would be a year-long class that would span thousands of years, including numerous different countries, and would oust every single culture as doing something inhumane. This is not mentioning the current situation of slavery that is ongoing even today!
Or maybe, the bill meant to say that if the history of slavery was going to be discussed, all cultures affected in the U.S. needed to be acknowledged- Irish, Italians, American Indians, Scottish, Jews, Japanese, children, etc…
I can almost see the intent of this bill. I think that it was trying to stop the great divide among the whites and people of color. It was trying to stop reengaging the conversation of ‘your good’ and ‘your bad’ to children who had nothing to do with slavery. Instead, it would allow students to have an open dialog on what our country did to people and discuss how not to go back to accepting the inhumane treatment of our fellow human beings.
However, that is not what the bill will do. The bill will put a gage order on teachers, established by politicians who do not have a degree in teaching or have ever taught in a public/private school, and then in addition, according to the proposed law- the schools will be fined if they don’t follow it:
“Public schools that fail to comply would see the state Department of Education withhold up to 5 percent of their monthly state funding under the bill. If the entity complied after a violation, funding would be restored.
Similarly, state-supported two-year and four-year higher education institutions that fail to comply could have 10 percent of state funding withheld.”
The joy of learning is being taken away. The pleasure of knowledge does not mean that students only learn about the good of a country. It means that we can research, discuss, debate, and form opinions of what has happened, what is happening, and what could happen. It means that students and parents can also engage in those conversations. Disagree with it- go to another school.
In my humble opinion, this country is so willing to discuss the negative of other countries, but will sugar coat our own. Bring up any debate on humanity, and someone will somehow reference ‘Hitler.’ Talk about WW2- and we will point fingers at Japan for bombing our favorite summer getaway. Discuss the 9/11 bombing, and every middle eastern country is to blame. Talk about Native Americans and their concerns, and someone will mention that they get a paycheck every month.
But, we don’t discuss our role as a country in denying the condemned Jewish population into our country or using an extensive known Nazi spy network to wage a covert campaign against the Soviet Union.
We don’t talk about how a group of American sugar planters and 300 U.S. Marines overthrew the Hawaiian monarch (Queen Liliuokalani) and placed Sanford Dole as President- with the federal government knowledge!
We are not discussing that many first responders from the 9/11 attack are battling illnesses caused by their exposure to the site of Ground Zero. The federal program that was emplaced to pay for their healthcare until 2090 is running out of money. The U.S. Congress has not modified the funding formula to account for current inflation.
The Responders Remembered Park in Nesconset, Long Island, which honors those who served at Ground Zero and have since died of 9/11 related illnesses, added almost 300 names to its memorial walls this month as of Nov 2021.
We don’t counter the Native Americans’ discussion with the truth that they don’t receive “I’m sorry” payouts every month. Instead, they can receive money from quarterly or monthly per capita payments to their members from the profits of tribally-owned enterprises such as casinos. Or in lease payments made to Indian landowners who receive royalties from mining and grazing on allotment land held in trust for them by the United States.
My point is this- there are too many people wanting the comfort of a city, state, or federal law to embrace their personal views. The unwillingness of the few to accept uncomfortable conversations is growing- now into the hands of politicians.
This is not to say that you can’t have your own opinion, or that you have to agree with everyone else! This is just my honest opinion on ignoring, erasing, or changing real-world events to make someone feel better about their views. For example, Thomas Jefferson did own enslaved people. Geroge Washington stated his love to another when he was about to marry Martha. Martin Luther King did have an affair with Dorothy Cotton. JFK did sleep around. The U.S. did have concentration camps within our walls to house the Japanese.
These are realities. This is the truth. Do not hide from it, do not erase it, but rather embrace it. Embrace that homosexuality has been a thing for thousands of years, and crossdressers are nothing new. Know that Christianity is not the first religion, and that books were not always written in English.
Do not fine teachers for teaching the truth! I stand with the teachers. However, if I disagree with what you are teaching, I will email you for a conference. If we can’t find a middle ground, then I can remove my child from the school. It’s that simple.
Teachers- you are doing a fine job. You have thousands of people who think they know more than you about your job- don’t worry about it. You are teaching within the guidelines of a state school standard. You are taking time out of your day to teach my child knowledge so that I don’t have to—shame on the people who want to question you as a professional .