Dueling protests attack racial theory, state school board members and lawmakers join them


The Ohio Board of Education met for its September meeting on Tuesday, but outside the building, protesters on both sides of the heated debate over race in education stood in the rain for say their word.

The board members didn’t just attend the meeting indoors, however. Dr Jenny Kilgore took the time before the meeting to stand alongside the anti-racial theory protesters.

“I support the issues they are protesting and am here as a member of the Southwest Ohio Board of Education,” Kilgore told the OCJ.

A counter-protester films anti-racial theory protesters outside the Ohio Department of Education on Tuesday.
Photo by Susan Tebben

Kilgore agreed with the arguments that teaching history and other subjects for a race impact perspective is “very divisive” and should not be taught in classrooms with young students “who do not have the capacity to discern whether it is a critical theory of race”.

“I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to look at history,” Kilgore said. “I think we should be looking at the exact data history, but not revising it according to our agendas.”

Across the building, in the midst of a counter-protest that included a “reading” of books on racial theory and others written by writers of color, the retired teacher and board member. administration Meryl Johnson has called “unrealistic and misleading” to say that hoping education includes race is dividing the country.

“Critical Race Theory was designed to be a bogeyman because it wants to distract from the real issues,” Johnson said. “And the real issues are, are we going to do what’s best for our children of color so that they can have the same opportunities as everyone else? ”

Part of the protests were due to a resolution passed by the state’s education council in July that condemned racism and promoted an equity plan for education in the state. This resolution has been a topic of discussion for the board ever since, leading to a move asking the Ohio Attorney General for an opinion on the legality of the resolution.

Dan Regenold, founder of a Coalition of Ohio Groups Against Critical Race Theory, said the protest was in part intended to “kick the board” because of the resolution on the racism.

“We don’t want the school system trying to pick winners and losers and who needs this and who needs that,” Regenold said. “We want them to let students have the equality they were born to shine and succeed.”

Johnson, who supported the racism resolution, said whether the resolution is upheld or rescinded, “the horse is out of the stable”.

“The work is ongoing and the people who genuinely care about all of our children will continue to do it no matter what,” Johnson said.

Board members were not the only heads of state present at the protests. As the Ohio General Assembly returns from summer recess, they have two laws to consider that target critical race theory as a concept in Ohio schools.

State Representative Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, said she came out after meeting with groups of students in her district who were concerned about the impact of removing race from discussions at the school might have on their education.

“They want the whole story, they want the whole truth, they want to be able to have open and frank dialogues and they are very concerned that this legislation will circumvent their ability to do it,” Boggs said.

State Representative Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester, spoke at the anti-CRT protest, expressing support for those who have chosen to speak out against racial discussions in schools.

“Just by your birth you were born in freedom and so it’s good to protest, it’s good to verbalize and it’s good to have a protest,” Gross said.

The two bills are due for a third hearing before the House’s State and Local Authorities Commission on Wednesday afternoon.



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