VOICES: Schools must be firmly grounded in the principles and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion

The League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area opposes the Ohio State Board of Education’s vote to rescind the Resolution to Condemn Racism and to Advance Equity and Opportunity for Black Students, Indigenous Students and Students of Color. As the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, we strongly disagree with the politics that led to the vote and contributed to the division and spirit of negativity that has become ever present in our society. We commend the courage and leadership exemplified by the four members of the state board who have steadfastly maintained their support for the vision inherent in the resolution that would serve as a guidepost for the education of our students. That vision goes beyond academic enhancement but also encompasses emotional intelligence.

The resolution put forth an action agenda that would require school systems in the state of Ohio to move outside of their comfort zone. What must be kept in mind is the need to reexamine belief systems and power dynamics that privilege some while marginalizing others.

Educators might find themselves in unchartered territory facing difficult topics that must be presented in a factual context. Professional educators have always demonstrated a thirst for knowledge and an independence with teaching practices within the confines of their classrooms. They must be open to well thought out differences in opinion and can present those contrasting perspectives to encourage students to think outside of the box. Thus, we set the stage for education as opposed to indoctrination.

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We, the people, in our schools, our communities, our state, and our nation have allowed ourselves to become sidetracked by fear, misinformation and tribalism. For those of us who recognize and embrace the diversity in our society, we face indomitable challenges to create opportunities for equity and inclusion that must be addressed for the sake of generations to come. The healing process begins with truth. For those who fear a closer examination of our curriculum, we seek to shed a light on the things we are not supposed to talk about. After all, the real purpose of education is to excite the learner taking necessary steps to imbue the mind with the critical thinking skills to analyze information and empower questioning skills that leads to accurate conclusions.

That brings us to the question as to whether the vote taken by the state board has created a healthy learning environment for our students or stifled the learning process? We concur with a statement from the League of Women Voters Ohio: “Schools must be firmly grounded in the principles and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion, including anti-discrimination, anti-racism, anti-hate, multiculturalism and cultural proficiency.” Our educational institutions must be intentional in their approach to achieve these tenets of DEI.

In closing, we again turn to our state organization: “As a nation, state, and collection of communities, education is the bedrock of our democracy. It informs the values and perspectives that shape our ideologies, civic engagement, and priorities. At its best, education inspires us to broaden our view, challenge systems, and fulfill our promise of a truly representative democracy. Monocultural, exclusive and prejudiced education breeds miseducated voters and elected officials who perpetuate extremism, discriminatory policies and party-loyalist agendas.”

- DEI Committee of LWVGDA: Dona Fletcher, chair; Penny Wolff, Lillian Bruce Moskeland, Jo Lovelace Hill, Mario, Dianne Herman, Tonya Wilson-Wood and Valerie Lee

Editor’s Note: Last Sunday, Ray Marcano interviewed the new Ohio Board of Education President, Charlotte McGuire, who voted against the anti-racism resolution because she said she thought it was reactionary. She then voted for the repeal in October and believes the document that replaced it “gets back to the basic purpose of education, and that is academic excellence, academic achievement” that makes children successful in life.

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