The Ohio State Board of Education has rescinded a racial equity resolution it adopted last summer, citing a “troubling focus” on students’ skin color rather than their character.
The resolution in question, approved in July 2020 amid the nationwide unrest sparked by George Floyd’s death, highlighted “significant gaps” in academic performance between black students and their white peers, acknowledging that “profound disparities” between white and non-white students “exist in all parts of the Ohio education system.”
To address the said racial inequity, the resolution directed the Ohio Department of Education (DOE) to require training for all employees and contractors to “identify their own implicit bias,” and recommended that all Ohio school districts reflect on potential bias in their curricula and policies for hiring, staff development, and student discipline.
Following a four-hour debate on Wednesday night, the education board voted to repeal the 2020 resolution by a margin of 10-7, with two members absent, reported Advance Ohio.
In a new resolution put forward as a replacement, the board said it has observed since last July “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.”
“The Board seeks excellence in education for all children and families, without prejudice or respect to race, ethnicity, or creed,” the resolution reads, adding that it not only acknowledges the disparities between students of different races, but also those among “additional diverse groups, such as economically-disadvantaged students.”
The new resolution no longer asks that the Ohio DOE employees or contractors undergo implicit bias training, citing a legal analysis of the original resolution by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. In his opinion released last month, Yost said the board does not have authority to require private contractors to take such training.
While the Wednesday resolution doesn’t specifically mention critical race theory (CRT), it condemns any attempt to teach the idea that people of a certain race are inherently racist and should feel guilty for historical injustice and oppression committed by those of that race—one of the key premises held by CRT proponents.
“The Board affirms its condemnation of racism, hate speech, hate crimes and violence in the service of hatred,” it reads. “The Board condemns any standards, curriculum, or training programs for students, teachers, or staff that seek to divide or to ascribe circumstances or qualities, such as collective guilt, moral deficiency, or racial bias, to a whole race or group of people.”
Board member John Hagan, who voted in favor of the new resolution, said the original one excessively focused on race.
“I think the initial resolution was very pointed,” Hagan said, according to Advance Ohio. “It kind of said the boogeyman in the problem with these gaps is based on race. I don’t think anyone questions whether race might be a factor in this. But there are a lot of factors.”