Why Honesty in Education Matters
Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
When educators explore difficult issues, include diverse perspectives, promote self-awareness, and incorporate into their teaching the identities, experiences and cultures of their students it strengthens the learning process and improves educational outcomes because it:
Promotes student emotional well-being.
Drives academic achievement.
Teaches students to advocate for themselves.
Prepares students to participate in shaping their lives, their communities and the future.
Strengthens relationships, fosters empathy, and builds community.
Inspires reconciliation, healing, and growth
Why LWVO Opposes Legislation to Limit Discussion in the Classroom
DISHONEST EDUCATION: These bills severely curtail the ability of educators, community leaders and students to fully examine our history, our art and literature, and our social constructs. By confining education to one viewpoint and preventing open discourse, they stifle learning and reduce education to propaganda, and diminish the ability of educators to help students address facts in an open environment that nourishes intellectual growth. This robs students of the full benefit of their education as a resource for citizenship and productive adult lives. It is a grave disservice to our students and educators, our forefathers and foremothers, our communities, our future, and principles of democracy.
DISEMPOWERS EDUCATORS: These bills interfere with the autonomy and academic freedom individual instructors need to present their subject matter in a way that challenges yet supports their students. K-12 and post-secondary educators already operate within the academic goals set by the state, their discipline, and their community. Our academic leaders must have the ability to address the needs of their students without dictates from non-educators that are not founded in reality or history, and are motivated by political interests rather than intellectual growth for students.
REJECTS LOCAL CONTROL: These bills strip local school boards of the ability to determine the educational materials, subject matter, and professional development that can be used to meet the needs and demands of individual communities, a flagrant rejection of our tradition of local control. This state overreach is a form of censorship and puts control into the hands of a few partisan individuals who cannot appropriately gauge the needs of Ohio’s diverse school
DEVALUES STUDENTS: This legislation assumes that students are unable to process new ideas, weigh evidence and information, and draw meaningful conclusions for themselves. By prohibiting open discussion of current events, civil and human rights, and past and present sources of inequality and division in our society, this legislation assumes that students are unable to process new ideas, weigh evidence and information, and draw meaningful conclusions. This dummies down education. It suppresses one of the most important goals of education, to prepare students for informed participation in our society and democracy.
By strictly limiting the kind of discussion that is acceptable, the legislation promotes an a-moral understanding of history and makes it illegal to pass on core beliefs about freedom, citizenship, and equality.
DISHONORS IDENTITY & CULTURE: Teaching about many cultures is nothing to fear. It develops a shared understanding that can bridge divides. By barring exploration of diversity, equity and inclusion, the legislature seeks to deny the reality that race and identity are relevant to life experiences and our history. It encourages a know-nothing denial of reality which is antithetical to the purpose of education and detrimental to social cohesion and the aspirations of our democracy.
PREVENTS PROGRESS: This legislation restricts the ability of education to inform the future. Without a full understand of our history and the conflicts and power dynamics that shaped it, our present is without context. If the next generation is to shape our future, their education must be grounded in what has passed before and what we see today.
BAD GOVERNANCE: Enforcement of these provisions is costly, distracting, and subject to abuse.
Both bills were referred to the State and Local Government Committee for evaluation, instead of the Primary and Secondary Education Committee, whose primary role is to scrutinize education-focused legislation. The Primary and Secondary Education Committee is primarily composed of education experts and former practitioners versus the State and Local Government Committee with less than four.
VAGUE & SUBJECTIVE LANGUAGE
The legislation is too subjective to lend itself to fair enforcement. The prohibited ideas are vague, as are the behaviors that constitute a violation. It is hard to know what evidence would substantiate guilt and how to assign responsibility when a discussion veers from the proscribed path.
While the language allows for “objective instruction without endorsement,” another highly subjective idea, the consequences are so intimidating they make any instruction dangerous to the educator resulting in self-censorship to avoid controversy.
EXCESSIVE USE OF PUNISHMENT
The consequences for violations are extreme compared to the assumed damage, and compared to other authentic concerns such as child abuse.
Using complaints from children and families to activate enforcement is dangerous. It destroys the trusting relationship within the classroom that drives effective learning and meaningful resolution of disagreements. It subjects educators to the unhealthy possibility of being the object of a witch hunt.
By connecting serious consequences to instruction this legislation makes teaching a dangerous profession. It could make the current teacher shortage even worse.
The legislation places a heavy burden on the Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board of Education, and the Chancellor of Higher Education to enforce laws that contradict the purposes, ethics, and standards of the institutions that they lead.
Take Action Now to Promote Honesty in Education