By Rep. RICK WEST
Last week on the House floor I was forced to take a very unpopular vote against a bill that looked good on the surface but I fear is a back door to allowing evil doctrine back into our public schools.
House Bill 3720 would require Holocaust education to be taught in every Oklahoma public middle and high school. That’s a good goal. The Holocaust was horrific, and it should be taught in our schools. I fully support that, and I believe most schools already are teaching it.
The danger with this bill, however, is in language in the subsections that would require the Holocaust to be taught “In a manner that:
- Develops dialogue with students on the ramifications of bullying, bigotry, stereotyping, and discrimination, and;
- Encourages tolerance of diversity.
The devil is in those details. Because see, the bill is not just saying we have to teach the Holocaust but prescribing the manner in which it must be taught. There’s also the issue of the curricula to be developed by the State Board of Education in consultation with experts who will distribute it for students in grades 6-12 throughout the state.
Who are these experts? My concern is that proponents of Critical Race Theory and diversity training will be involved. We fought so hard last year to make sure these doctrines stay out of our public schools. While on the surface the concepts in the bill sound reasonable, CRT and other teachings like it promote such beliefs that say America’s founders were all racists and our system of government is oppressive and flawed beyond repair. Diversity training seeks to force a transgender and LGBTQ agenda onto our youth.
Supporters of this bill most likely wholeheartedly believe they are simply promoting better teaching of the Holocaust. I think there are people behind the scenes, however, who would try to use this as a way to get CRT and diversity training back into our public school classrooms and onto college campuses.
It would be terrible to use the Holocaust in this way and would be disrespectful to the more than six million Jews killed and the atrocities suffered by all those sent to concentration camps during World War II.
This bill shows that every lawmaker has to read every bill and be very watchful of every word and intent in legislation and the consequences that could result if it is passed into law. We can’t just read the titles of legislation before we vote. What looks good on the surface is often a swamp underneath.
Remember to listen to me on KPRV Radio at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday for my legislative update.
As always, if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick West serves District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of LeFlore County.
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