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OEA Condemns Substitute House Bill 327

[October 27, 2021] The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is appalled by the latest attempt to double down on Big Government intrusion into Ohio’s classrooms with the introduction of substitute House Bill 327 in the House State and Local Government Committee Wednesday morning. The anti-freedom state censorship bill is an affront to the people of Ohio, its educators, and worst of all, its students, who will be greatly harmed by the provisions of House Sub Bill 327, if it is passed.

“Ohio’s students deserve an honest and reflective education to prepare them to engage with and shape the future of our interconnected society and economy. Ohioans believe students and educators should have the freedom to teach and learn without fear of state censorship, intimidation, and punishment. But, if the Big Government mandates of HB 327 become law, our children will be grievously deprived of the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and learn from our mistakes by creating an oppressive and fear-based learning environment, and the growing teacher shortage will become exponentially worse,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said.

“Ohio’s kids need caring, qualified educators in their classrooms to help them become tomorrow’s doctors, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders. Unfortunately, the provisions of HB 327 – which have come about as part of a carefully coordinated national campaign by disingenuous organizations resulting in divisive and dishonest attacks on educators, our communities, and public schools – will drive teachers from their classrooms who can’t afford to lose their homes to sue-happy parents with a vendetta against the truth. The chilling effect on a profession already struggling to attract new entrants would be devastating,” DiMauro explained.

The substitute version of HB 327 seeks to muzzle educators and prevent them from having age-appropriate discussions with their students about any subjects deemed ‘divisive’ by certain politicians doing the bidding of a national network of extremists who want to whitewash our history so they can control a political narrative. Attempts to clear up the confusion created by the language of the earlier version of this bill have led to even further confusion about what can and cannot be taught and do nothing to address the serious underlying problems in the legislation. A similar bill in Texas has forced teachers to consider teaching Holocaust denials alongside the real history of World War II.

“Right now, no students are being taught to be ashamed of who they are or who their ancestors were; they are being empowered to be proud of who they are, regardless of where they come from,” DiMauro said. “But, by threatening to withhold vital school funding, revoke teachers’ licenses, and make educators civilly liable – with no cap on that liability, HB 327 would make teaching such a risky career path that few would choose to do it. And in the end, it’s Ohio’s 1.7 million public school students who will suffer.”

OEA will fight vigorously to stop the murky prohibitions and extreme penalties of HB 327 from becoming law. “Ohio’s educators must be trusted to do the jobs they were trained to do, following state learning standards and district curriculum in ways that use honest, accurate, and diverse learning experiences without state censorship or intimidation,” DiMauro said. “Our organization sees HB 327, and its companion bill HB 322, as a full-frontal assault on academic freedom and honesty, and we will not stand for it.”

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