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America’s schools are at a turning point. Our children are being over-tested, our teachers are physically exhausted and emotionally demoralized, and our tax dollars are being diverted to replace our public schools with a privately managed, free-market system of education.
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In response to a dramatic uptick in book challenges and the removal of books from school and community libraries, the American Library Association released a joint statement condemning these actions as “acts of censorship and intimidation.” In the opening paragraph, the ALA wrote:
In recent months, a few organizations have advanced the proposition that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves. To this end, they have launched campaigns demanding the censorship of books and resources that mirror the lives of those who are gay, queer, or transgender or that tell the stories of persons who are Black, Indigenous, or persons of color. Falsely claiming that these works are subversive, immoral, or worse, these groups induce elected and non-elected officials to abandon constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights to promote government censorship of library collections. Some of these groups even resort to intimidation and threats to achieve their ends, targeting the safety and livelihoods of library workers, educators, and board members who have dedicated themselves to public service, informing our communities, and educating our youth.
As we struggle with the political vitriol infecting our country, this interview conducted two years ago with Louie Anderson is a breath of fresh air.
On February 23, the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network is joining the Heights Coalition for Public Education in hosting a public forum to discuss why 100 school districts are challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s voucher programs. The webinar will begin at 7 p.m. You can register at:
In an article published this week in The Washington Post, Sarah Stitzlein argues that school vouchers are a threat to our democracy. In addition to serving as professor of education and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati, Sarah is a member of the statewide leadership team for the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network.
Americans by nature are doers. Amid the acrimony and divisiveness gripping our public life and politics today, people want to build things together and be part of something larger than themselves. This just isn’t my observation after spending more than 30 years working with concerned citizens to help pass school tax issues. It also is something that Rich Hardwood talks about in his new book, Unleashed: A Proven Way Communities Can Spread Change and Make Hope Real for All. Rich, who has devoted his career to revitalizing our nation’s hardest hit communities, explains that “no one leader, no single organization or group, and no individual citizen can tackle these problems alone.” Instead, we must unleash the positive energy of the “doers” throughout our communities who are looking for opportunities to step up and make a difference.
Two bills to prohibit the teaching of topics dealing with race, sex, slavery, nationality, color and ethnicity have been introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives. The bills, HB 322 and HB 327, are prime examples of how our public schools are caught in the crosshairs of the culture wars which are dividing our nation. The Ohio Council for the Social Studies is opposed to both of these bills.
This past weekend, “CBS Sunday Morning” featured an uplifting story about a school bus driver who once served at the highest levels of our national government. Stories like this remind us of how many wonderful people have dedicated their lives to serving our country – and continue to do so.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” For me, this quote by Margaret Mead is more than a platitude. It has been a reality that I’ve observed up close and personally in my work with school districts across Ohio over the past four decades. Time and time again, I’ve seen small groups of concerned citizens step up to pass levies and make a difference in other ways. Today, we are caught in the crosshairs of a culture war that is not only impacting the health and safety of our local schools and communities but has become a serious threat to our democracy. The Ohio Public School Advocacy Network is being led by “small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens” who can help play a pivotal role in determining how this story ends.
In an effort to learn how school districts are effectively dealing with the anger surrounding masks, vaccines, CRT and other divisive issues, I recently spoke with one of our Ohio Public School Advocacy Network superintendents who was confronted by several upset parents opposed to the district’s mask mandate. The superintendent’s response to these parents was to call each of them and listen to their concerns. Below is an email from one of them:
I just want to say I really appreciate you calling! I understand where you are coming from, and I know you are in a tough situation as a superintendent. Everything you said makes complete sense to me and I understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you explain the situation to everyone as you explained it to me, I don’t see how people couldn’t change their minds. Again, thank you very much! Have a great day.
When I asked if this email is representative of how many of the parents responded to the personal phone calls, the answer was yes. The superintendent then added: “The bottom line is being kind and taking the time to listen to… Continue reading