House Bill 1775 would bring public education in Oklahoma dangerously close to becoming the Ministry of Truth and a dystopian existence of propaganda, surveillance and authoritarian politics.
What began as a measure that would have required schools to develop emergency action plans primarily for the benefit of student athletes landed on the governor’s desk as a controversial attempt to whitewash history. It would ban the teaching of “critical race theory” and mandatory gender and diversity training on college and university campuses.
Accomplished as part of a popular campaign to cancel the so-called cancel culture, the measure likely would be declared unconstitutional as an infringement of First Amendment rights. And serving up a sterilized version of history for the next generation of students could doom them to repeat failures of the past.
There are legitimate concerns about misplaced anger and blame attributed to those whose ancestors might have committed some wrong. That is why the history being taught must be based on truth, not some fabricated version.
If facts are withheld, the fact they were concealed will be revealed and present-day blame could be assigned for covering up the truth. So why would the state conspire to carry on the deception?
In order to become a “more perfect union,” a nation’s citizens must know their history. Students must be trusted to reason and grapple with the sometimes difficult truths that shaped this world.
Possessing that knowledge and understanding the underlying reasons will help them shape a more just future for themselves and those who follow. Avoiding those facts now only prolongs existing divisions.
Supporters of HB 1775 accused its detractors of “stirring up angst.” We fear those trying to rewrite history may be the troublemakers. Gov. Kevin Stitt should veto this bill.