Last month, the Missouri House granted preliminary approval to the 10-page “2022 Parents’ Bill of Rights.”
The bill requires the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to withhold funds from schools that violate any of the new provisions of the “Bill of Rights.”
“Missouri leads the nation in anti-equity,” said Heather Fleming, founder of In Purpose Educational Services and the Missouri Equity Education Partnership, an organization supporting anti-bias education.
“Teachers must be able to teach culturally competent material without fear of repercussions,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
Topics such as history and current affairs, including modern instances of racism, are labeled “indoctrination,” as GOP Missouri Congressman Ben Baker has described it.
To alert the community to the latest efforts to purge black history, other subjects, and books from public schools by Republicans in the state legislature, a march for the Education Fair and the equity took place on Saturday, April 30, 2022 at Ely Luther Smith Square.
“Lawmakers seeking to ban identity conversations fail to realize that white people aren’t the only ones who aren’t comfortable discussing race if the overwhelming response is supported to protect their feelings,” a said Francis Howell North High School senior and activist Mya Walker.
The bill also allows parents to bring civil suits against school districts violating any provision.
“What hurts black students is the immediate attempts to comfort white people at the expense of people of color,” Walker said.
“It’s rooted in racism and shows exactly why we need to talk about race in the first place. It sends the message that there’s only one type of student who deserves protection.”
Joining the “Parent’s Bill of Rights” is another Missouri General Assembly proposal that, if implemented, would give parents the right “to object to classroom materials based on those parents’ beliefs.” concerning morality, sexuality, religion or other welfare issues”. the being and upbringing of that parent’s child.”
State Representative LaKeySha Bosley, a Democrat from St. Louis, called the new legislation revisionist.
“George Floyd’s death sparked a racial judgment against which we are now seeing a backlash,” Fleming said.
The bill requires the Department of Education to create a form for parents to be notified and requested two weeks in advance whenever a divisive topic may conflict with a parent’s beliefs.
“Critical Theory of Race [CRT] is targeted because many people may have attached some meaning to it,” Fleming said.
House Bill 1474 shrinks to “CRT”. The GOP-backed bill identifies the CRT “as inherently or systemically sexist, racist, biased, privileged, or oppressed.”
“If Ruby Bridges could be one of the first little black girls to fit in, then our kids should know that,” Jones said.
The Missouri State Commissioner said the majority of K-12 schools in Missouri do not teach CRT. A Missouri State Department of Education survey found that nearly all responding school districts said the curriculum did not have a CRT.
“Republicans are doing a great job of fearmongering; they’re trying to put politics into education, which has no place,” State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge said.
The state Department of Education will need to establish a portal with each school district to post the taught curriculum and guest speakers.
“Discomfort is necessary, it allows us to grow and progress,” Walker said.
“Without discomfort, there can be no growth to move towards an equitable society. We must recognize people in their entirety and see them for who they are, including when talking about race, gender, identity and of sexuality because they have shaped life experiences.
“There weren’t a lot of black students, or [Black people] in the program.” Sophia Johnson Bartwell Middle School, 12, said. “I always felt left out because I wasn’t seen in the program.”
“We don’t have real conversations,” Aldridge said.
“They [Republicans] don’t want our children to feel the uncomfortable truth of history. They have continued to attack an education that is disgusting and divisive.”
Aldridge said Missouri’s conversations should and should have been about quality universal education and resources.
“We want to create a table that’s long enough and wide enough for all of us,” Fleming said.