Governing public schools
Your June 17/18 “As Others See It” commentary quotes an entire statement by several groups about laws adopted or proposed in many states concerning teaching in public schools about race in America. The statement says nothing about the reasons for these laws, so readers may have inferred that this is an unprovoked initiative by some Ku Klux Klansmen to prevent what the statement calls “an honest reckoning” with race.
The truth is far different. These laws were prompted by the adoption in many schools of radical doctrines, especially Critical Race Theory (or CRT) and the New York Times’ 1619 Project. These say that America is systemically racist; all white people are privileged; the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery and America’s core isn’t the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” from 1776, but slavery and white supremacy from 1619.
This is not “an honest reckoning” but a one-sided, distorted, misleading and relentlessly negative view of America. For “an honest reckoning,” let’s add to the negative truths about race in America the following: 1: America now is one of the least racist countries in the world. 2: Black people are freer and more prosperous here than in any other country. 3: Don’t take my word on this. Huge numbers of people want to cross our border, but they all want to enter; almost none want to leave.
The statement says students shouldn’t be subjected to “some state-ordered ideology.” It points to no language in these laws that imposes any “ideology” because there is no such language. There is no effort to forbid all negativity from teaching about race.
The statement refers to “a democratic society,” but then says classrooms should be controlled by “professional educators.” However, in a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” it is the right of the people, directly and through their elected officials, to govern our public schools. Moreover, given the abysmal performance of many public schools, people are right to reject those who tell them to shut up and bow down to “professional educators.”
The statement criticizes the “vague and indefinite” language of some laws that bar “divisive concepts” or actions that cause students to feel “guilt” or “anguish.” The language is sometimes vague because the contours of doctrines like CRT are vague. Moreover, it is prompted by many actual incidents where young children were, for example, told to rank themselves according to their “power and privilege” or locate themselves on an “oppression matrix.” In some towns, parents were so upset at the abuse of their children by radical, racial ideologues that they united and elected a new school board to restore decency.
An “honest reckoning” on race should certainly be part of a public school education, but an “honest reckoning” must include the positive as well as the negative. There should be no place there for doctrines like CRT that teach children to hate America and hate themselves.
George W. Dent Jr.
Support for Grendell bill
Until reading your recent editorial on “Thought Police,” it never occurred to me that the Times was an advocate for radical thinking. Thank you for so articulately stating your profound belief that Ohio’s children must be taught that those a of certain race, sex, religion and/or ethnicity are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, sex, religion and/or ethnicity.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the Times, like most of the mainstream media, advocates for the teaching of racist, divisive theories in our schools. Yet, your editorial certainly was eye opening, and caused me to write state Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Chester Township, and applaud her efforts. I also encourage others of like mind to contact your local elected school board officials and insist that critical race theory be prevented from being introduced into our schools.
Sadly, instead of uniting our great nation as he promised in his inauguration address, and healing wounds caused by his incompetent predecessor, our current “Divider in Chief” rewarded his most vocal, radical supporters by advocated for the teaching of critical race theory. Unless checked by Rep. Grendell’s legislation, Biden’s Education Department will require these patently racist ideas be taught to our children. Rep. Grendell’s legislation must be passed by the Ohio Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine to prevent our children from being subjected to these racist, divisive teachings.
Trail survey suggestions
Since there has been no discussion from Pepper Pike city officials regarding the details and timing of the pending Gates Mills Boulevard multi-purpose trail survey, and to ensure there are no misunderstandings regarding the survey that Mayor Richard Bain has now agreed to conduct, the following suggestions and criteria should be reviewed and approved prior to the survey being conducted.
The survey must be written in an unbiased way. To ensure that occurs, people representing both sides of the issue should be included in the development and approval of the survey.
The survey should be sent to every Pepper Pike resident (not just households) so as not to skew results favoring any particular demographic or the demographic group that is accustomed to using email.
The survey should differentiate between those residents who live on Gates Mills Boulevard and those who do not.
The criteria for approval of going forward with this project based on the results of the survey should be established prior to the survey being distributed. For example: is it a simple majority or a super majority?
A super majority should be required of those residents living on Gates Mills Boulevard.
A simple majority of the entire population of Pepper Pike.
Council should review and approve the survey prior to it being sent. The survey results should be used by them in deciding whether or not to allocate $700,000 of taxpayer money to the proposed trail project.
Those who foot bill ask questions
The League of Women Voters of Geauga believes citizens have a right to know what their government bodies are doing, for what reason and at what cost.
The Geauga Park District recently exercised its right under ORC 1545.07 to hire its own treasurer, thereby forgoing the free accounting and financial services provided to the GPD by the elected Geauga County auditor and treasurer. To be crystal clear, taxpayers already pay county personnel to provide fiscal services to the various county departments and agencies.
Under the GPD’s new arrangement, the county retains control over annual budget approval. However, day-to-day oversight of accounting and financial transactions moves from the locally elected county auditor to the Ohio Auditor of State’s office in Columbus. The GPD should explain how this arrangement benefits taxpayers.
As to why the GPD made this decision, nowhere in their 2020 meeting minutes do we see complaints or discussion about county services. There is no deliberation in open session about the need to self-manage fiscal operations. It is completely unclear why, after exiting the executive session during their Dec. 18, 2020 meeting, the GPD passed a resolution to advertise for a treasurer. The GPD should explain its rationale – and its deliberation process.
Although we don’t know what the total cost will be to provide the GPD with all of the accounting and financial services that county employees now provide for free, we do know the GPD’s new treasurer is costing taxpayers an extra $69,014.40 plus benefits that they were not paying before. The GPD should provide justification for the extra burden to taxpayers.
The League of Women Voters of Geauga believes those who foot the bill get to ask the questions.To that end we have offered to host a public forum where constituents can engage productively on this topic with their government leaders. Follow us at www.lwvgeauga.org for updates.
Shelly Lewis, president
League of Women Voters of Geauga