COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ten members of the Ohio State Board of Education voted Wednesday night to eliminate a resolution passed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder that acknowledged there had been racism and inequity in state schools against Black students, Indigenous students and students of color.
The members passed a resolution in its place saying that there’s “a troubling focus on the color of one’s skin rather than on the content of one’s character.” The new resolution acknowledges academic achievement gaps based on race. But it also says that “diverse groups, such as economically-disadvantaged students” also experience gaps.
The new resolution also condemns any curriculum or teacher training “that seek to divide or to ascribe circumstances or qualities, such as collective guilt, moral deficiency, or racial bias, to a whole race or group of people,” which could limit the exploration about the reasons for social problems in society. The resolution’s language mimics calls from conservatives packing school board meetings throughout Ohio and the county calling for an end to the teaching of so-called “critical-race theory” or anti-racism curriculum.
Seven board members voted against the measure, while two were absent. The following are the members who voted yes:
Steve Dackin, member at-large, appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine. Dackin works at Columbus State Community College. Before that, he was superintendent of Reynoldsburg City School District in the Columbus suburbs. His State Board of Education biography notes that under his leadership the district improved academic performance, including performance of minority and economically disadvantaged students.
Walt Davis, member at-large member from Warren County who was appointed by DeWine. Davis was an officer in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years, including at the Pentagon. In the private sector, he’s worked as an engineer, as an international business consultant, as chair of the aviation department at Sinclair College in Dayton and on his family’s farm. His Twitter bio says he self-identifies as a member of the tea party.
John Hagan, elected from Stark County. Seen as the leader on the state board in opposition to critical race theory — the study by university academics of racism as a systematic problem instead of the actions of a few individuals, and a look at how racism that began centuries ago continues in many forms today. Hagan spoke at an anti-critical race theory rally at the Ohio Statehouse in June. He said the board’s original anti-racism resolution concluded that “the boogeyman in the problem with these gaps is based on race. I don’t think anyone questions whether race might be a factor in this. But there are a lot of factors.” Prior to his time on the state board, he served for eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Kirsten Hill, elected from Amherst: A certified public accountant, she also ran the family’s year-around farm market in Lorain County for 25 years. For 20 years, she was a member and one-time president of the Amherst Schools Education Foundation, awarding grants to teachers and scholarships to students. Hill attended the Jan. 6 protests at the U.S. Capitol, repeated the false narrative that there was significant voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. She was listed as an organizer of a bus from Lorain County to Washington to participate in the protests, though she says she remained outside the building. She’s served as chair of Totally Engaged Americans of Lorain County, a local tea party. She’s testified on an Ohio House bill that would prohibit critical race theory in K-12 schools, saying, “Equity is not the same as equality. Equality means treating students the same, regardless of race. Equality is now considered racist, because students from racial groups that are considered historically oppressed should be treated better than students from other groups.”
Jenny Kilgore, elected from Hamilton County: With a doctorate in educational leadership from Miami University, Kilgore teaches undergraduate education majors at Miami and graduate students at Indiana Wesleyan. For 15 years she taught at Landmark Christian School.
Paul LaRue, member at-large, appointed by DeWine: A retired Washington Court House High School social studies teacher and wrestling coach. He won numerous state and national teaching awards, such as Time Warner’s National Teacher Award, the History Channel’s First-Place “Innovation in History Education,” and the African American Civil War Memorial Teacher of the Year. Since retiring, LaRue has continued to work with social studies teachers and create educational content, including for The Black History Bulletin, on which he also serves on the editorial board.
Martha Manchester, member at-large first appointed by former Gov. John Kasich: Formerly a special education teacher at Indian Lake Schools in Logan County, she founded a nursery school, where she was the administrator and head teacher. She was a substitute teacher in the Waynesfield Goshen School District. She also works for the Manchester Farms General Partnership.
Charlotte McGuire, elected from Dayton: “Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, during the segregation era, she considers herself a committed voice for the success of Ohio’s children,” her state board bio says. She’s currently the board’s vice president. She’s worked for over 40 years in nonprofit organizations and government, including as community affairs director for Dayton and is affiliated with Dayton Right To Life. She and her husband launched the Excel Afterschool Program, which assists parents to help improve elementary school achievement and attendance. She and her husband also founded and lead a nondenominational church.
Tim Miller, elected from Akron: He served eight years on the Akron Public Schools Board of Education, involved when the LeBron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School opened. He’s the owner/agent of Insurance Service Agency Inc.
Brandon Shea, elected from Madison County: The latest resolution was introduced by Shea, but it was changed Wednesday night. Shea and his wife homeschool their children. He’s a founder and president of Madison County Right to Life. “He believes education should focus on the good, the true and the beautiful and that children must learn to think critically and develop wisdom and virtue, allowing them to achieve their God-given potential and to become engaged citizens and productive members of society,” his state board bio says.
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