VOICES: HB 327 protects children’s right to learn American History objectively

State Representative Sarah Fowler Arthur (CONTRIBUTED)

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State Representative Sarah Fowler Arthur (CONTRIBUTED)

“In Congress, July 4, 1776: …We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

From the very conception of our country, the Declaration of Independence outlined the then controversial ideas of individual responsibility, individual accountability, and equality under the law, which has since became the bedrock of our civilization.

While we have certainly grown in our understanding and practical application of these principles, the truth remains that we would not be the nation we are today without the belief, affirmed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that says “it shall not be lawful… to discriminate against any individual… because of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin….”

HB 327, of which I am a joint-sponsor, further affirms and strengthens Ohio’s non-discrimination policies and expectations for K-12 and higher education classroom instruction, teacher and principal training, and state and local government employee training. We’ve received concerning reports that individuals are being held to an ideological purity test to maintain their employment or receive a good grade in a given class. That ideological test is often based upon external characteristics, such as skin color or ethnicity, rather than the foundational principles of our nation or the intrinsic value of an individual’s character.

The definition of “indoctrination” is promoting ideas that you expect the recipient to accept, believe and act upon without being questioned or critiqued. Future generations deserve more!

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Critical thinking is developed by learning from a variety of perspectives, and history is no different. Students should have access to all the facts: the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, assigning current day fault, blame, or culpability for actions of past generations does not heal wounds, resolve conflicts or move our state or nation forward in a spirit of unity. Rather, it divides along the same old racist boundaries and as Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

The promotion of concepts that hold our seven, eight, and nine year old children responsible for the crimes of past generations goes against everything our nation stands for. It is an unconscionable perversion of justice that any child should be held personally responsible for the sins of their father, or a group of individuals in the past. We are a nation founded on individual value, individual responsibility, individual accountability and individual accomplishment and failure.

HB 327 protects children’s right to learn American History in an objective and historically accurate manner without taxpayer dollars being used to promote an ideology of racism and group guilt. It protects state and local government employees from being subjected to an ideological “purity test” to receive or maintain employment. It strives to ensure that every Ohioan is treated equally under the law and that every individual enjoys the rights and privileges of a non-discriminatory, objective representation of educational and historical facts, taught more than once a year during a given history week or in honor of a holiday.

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In the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’”

It is time to affirm the contributions of all Americans to our great nation and live up to the refinement of the founding concepts of freedom: equality of all, just and equal treatment under the law, and the opportunity to follow your dreams.

State Representative Sarah Fowler Arthur represents Ohio’s 99th District.

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