Okay. teacher resigns in protest against law restricting education on race – Aumag The Talks Today

OK. Teacher resigns in protest against law restricting education to race – Aumag

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Summer Boismier made it just one day of the school year before a parent complained and the principal came to her high school class to investigate. Days later, she quit in protest of a new Oklahoma law restricting education about race and gender.

Even before the first day of school at Norman High School, Boismier suspected her personal classroom library would get her in trouble for breaking that law, so she covered her books with butcher paper. But she added a touch of defiance, writing a message across the paper in permanent marker.

“Books the state doesn’t want you to read,” it said.

Boismier, 34, added a QR code that her English sophomores could scan with their cellphones and take to an application for a Brooklyn Public Library card. The site said that teens, even if they lived out of state, could still access materials through the library’s Books Unbanned project, “in response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books that cover a wide range of subjects.” of subjects to deal with, off the library shelves.”

Hours later, a parent complained to school officials about Boismier, accusing them of violating a new state law restricting public school instruction or materials that cause students to experience “discomfort, guilt, fear, or any other form of.” mental stress” feel their race or gender. The complaint thrust Boismier into debate about the roles parents, teachers and administrators play in deciding what to teach children, particularly around race and gender. According to Chalkbeat, politicians in 35 other states are trying to curb or provide limited education on racism, prejudice and related issues.

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New laws of critical race theory have frightened, confused, and self-censored teachers

Oklahoma law is particularly strict, the Washington Post reported. Teachers who break the law can lose their teaching license.

For the first half of last year, Boismier and her colleagues watched the legislation closely as it made its way through the Oklahoma legislature, concerned “because it essentially seeks to legislate emotion and intent.”

Though the new law went into effect months before Boismier began her freshman year at Norman High, she told the Post she largely ignored it and taught as she had in a classroom for the past seven years. Boismier said one of the most important parts of her job is speaking candidly about the dark chapters of American history and how they have shaped, and continue to shape, literature and identity.

“I think we have to have the difficult conversations,” she said. “It’s absolutely necessary to what I do.”

But things changed late last month when the state school board downgraded the accreditation of two school districts for violating the new law, Boismier said. The moves sent an alert to teachers in other counties across the state, she said.

“A message should be sent and a message should be received,” she added.

On August 11, teachers in Norman returned to work from their summer vacation eight days before classes started. Because of the new law and the “serious legal implications for teachers and districts,” administrators asked teachers to screen their classroom libraries before the first day of school to “ensure age appropriateness” and asked them to vouch for the work or ” to deliver at least Two professional sources confirm their eligibility, a district spokesman told the Post in a statement.

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“We have not banned books or asked teachers to remove books from their classrooms,” spokesman Wes Moody said in the statement. “Classroom libraries enrich our schools, and we want our classrooms to be places where literacy flourishes.”

Boismier said she was one of the teachers who asked for guidance on personal classroom libraries. She had spent her own money building hers into a collection of more than 500 books, many of the texts chosen to expand instruction beyond the official reading lists, often stacked with works written by “for those mostly old, dead white people.”

“It’s a way for me to complement that and add the more inclusive, multicultural texts that the curriculum, the official reading lists, don’t allow for,” Boismier said, adding, “If you’ve seen it on a banned book list, I have.” trying to get it.”

Referring to the bill that would eventually become the new law restricting classroom discussions about race and gender, she called her library “a physical manifestation of a violation of HB 1775.”

Teachers were told to either bag the books that might trigger a complaint, turn them back-side-in or cover them, she said. By choosing the latter option, Boismier produced the butcher paper to hide the books from the very students to whom she would have lent them years earlier.

She included the QR code along with a caption: “Definitely don’t scan!”

Boismier told CNN that county officials said they felt the label on the QR code made it illegal and they didn’t want to encourage students to do anything illegal. She told the Post that officials placed her on administrative leave. In its statement, the district denied that claim and said Boismier was never placed on leave or suspended.

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But they would have punished her, said the district spokesman. At a meeting on Tuesday, administrators told Boismier that she was admonished not to make “personal, political statements in class and to use her classroom to make a political statement expressing those opinions.”

“Like many educators, the teacher has concerns about censorship and book removals by the Oklahoma state legislature,” Moody wrote in a statement to The Post. “But as educators, our goal is to teach students critical thinking, not tell them what to think.”

Administrators asked Boismier to report to their classroom on Wednesday morning. Instead, she resigned. Boismier told the Post that if she stayed and taught as she always did, she feared she would face an escalating series of penalties.

So, Boismier said, she’s sped things up and is unemployed, wishes she were still teaching in a classroom and doesn’t know what she wants to do next. Despite this, she has no regrets about what she has done or given up. Acknowledging that the school district was in trouble, she said she blames Oklahoma Republicans most of the time for fueling what she described as a growing culture of fear, confusion and insecurity in the schools.

Amidst that climate, Boismier said, she didn’t feel like she had a place in an Oklahoma classroom.

Boismier said she could get a job coaching teachers on how to teach students more effectively. Or she could get into advocacy for education. Whatever she does, she plans to stay in education — in Oklahoma.

“That’s a message I want to send to the people at the top of the food chain in governance,” she said. “I do not go anywhere.”