Orange County Board of Education trustees are considering banning communist indoctrination and a host of other topics, despite trustees not providing clear cases of indoctrination happening in local schools.
The policy was first brought forth by board trustee Ken Williams at the Oct. 5 meeting – on World Teacher’s day – but failed to receive support for approval with other trustees wanting more time to discuss and work on the policy.
The proposal comes months after the board put out a “white paper” earlier this year on the forums they held last year and warned school districts that they could potentially open themselves up to litigation if they teach ethnic studies “rooted” in Critical Race Theory (CRT).
“When something bad happens like the darkness and the sin of the CRT – everything that comes with it, damn it we should take a role and not sit back and be cowards about it,” Williams said at the Oct. 5 meeting.
“We need to take a strong stand up against all this c-r-a-p that is happening out in this world and in this community.”
Now his proposed policy will return in front of the trustees as an informational item. Trustees at their Wednesday meeting will also consider a resolution against mandating the COVID vaccine for students to attend school.
Under Williams’ proposed policy, educators are forbidden from teaching “controversial curriculum” that advocates for communism, abolishing the police, or teaching that “America is presently a white supremacist society or systemic racial oppression is present in the United States.”
The policy also forbids curicula containing pornography or teaching that law enforcement discriminates against people based on ethnicity, race or gender identity.
It would also ban lessons that teach that “individual liberties and freedoms are presently systemically suppressed based on ethnicity, skin color, race, sex, or gender identity.”
Alison Dover, a professor of secondary education at Cal State Fullerton, said last month the proposal is nothing more than a political stunt and a scare tactic.
She said the OC Board of Education is “a megaphone for political propaganda and this is one more attempt by the OCBE to scare teachers into compliance with their view of the world.”
The proposal, Dover said, could impact history lessons.
“By denying teachers the opportunities to engage in critical conversations about the history of this country, the way race and racism has impacted this country and how it continues to impact us, it denies students the ability to be part of the society we all live in,” she said.
The policy will apply to students in programs under the board’s authority which includes kids in special education programs, alternative schools as well as juvenile hall students and not students in the school districts of Orange County, according to OC Department of Education Spokesman Ian Hanigan.
He also said would not apply to charter schools.
Under the California Education code, it is already forbidden for teachers to advocate for communism or indoctrinate a student to be a communist.
The policy’s language is similar to the education code in regards to communism indoctrination.
The policy also has language similar to the ban of Critical Race Theory that trustees on the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School board implemented earlier this year.
Cal State Fullerton announced last month they will put a pause on sending student teachers to the Placentia-Yorba Linda School District following the Critical Race Theory ban.
Williams’ proposed ban would also include guidelines on what is deemed appropriate to display in the classroom including students work and what is deemed inappropriate to display like flags or posters not related to instructional content.
“What is displayed in the classroom should be reflective of the curriculum,” he said at the meeting.
Others worry where a policy like this will lead.
“There’s elements of this policy that suggest book bans – it’s very vaguely worded,” Dover said. “We do not want our schools to be spaces where schools are policed and things are banned outright.”
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
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