The fallout at school boards have reverberated to the top of the education bureaucracy in Ohio, when two board members at the Ohio State Board of Education resigned over disagreements on an “anti-racism” resolution.
Board President Laura Kohler and board member Eric Poklar submitted their resignation letters, which were accepted by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. Interestingly, neither board member mentioned Resolution 20, which resolution pushed “anti-racism” ideology in the Buckeye State’s public schools.
Resolution 20 was passed in summer 2020 after George Floyd’s death in police custody sparked Black Lives Matter-fueled riots across the country. But it was repealed by a 10-7 vote over its specific instructions to the state’s Department of Education to teach employees about implicit bias and to review standardized tests and strike any biased questions. It was replete of left-wing buzzwords, which may have spurred the board’s formal request to Ohio Attorney General David Yost to review it.
After Yost’s review, which blasted the resolution as a tool “designed to establish and maintain white supremacy and racial oppression forever,” the board repealed the resolution.
Kohler told the Columbus Dispatch that she resigned after DeWine’s chief of staff asked for her resignation due to her support for the resolution. Kohler and Poklar were appointed members and therefore were on their way out if the governor requested their resignation.
The Ohio state senate also declined to confirm their appointments, part of the formal procedure by which the state senate has the power to consent or not consent to the governor’s appointed picks to state boards and commissions, such as the Board of Education. The state’s Board of Education has eleven elected members and eight members appointed by the governor who are confirmed by the state senate.
DeWine nominated Brandon Kern and Richard Chernesky as replacements on the board, which was met with criticism by the state’s teachers’ union. Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper said, “Concerned doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I am.” She added, “This to me is an abuse of power. You’ve got a Senate President who is following his own agenda … and is trying to control every education decision within the state.”
Despite Cropper’s criticism, the state senate and governor have the legal responsibility to appoint and confirm members of their own choosing, which is commonplace in other states.
A spokesman in the Ohio Senate, John Fortney, responded to Cropper’s critique and said, “It’s unfortunate the OFT’s director supports far-left special interests and candidates like Terry McAuliffe who believe parents should have no say in the education of their children.” Fortney referred to the Virginia gubernatorial race in which former Democratic Gov. McAuliffe told a debate audience that he believed parents should not be involved in public education.
Critical Race Theory, contrary to supporters’ talking points, is not limited to law schools. As the Ohio controversy demonstrated, the theory has made inroads at the state and local school levels, which concerned parents and teachers so much that it has become a leading issue in state and local school elections.