Chris Casteel, USA Today, October 10, 2023
Educators, students and civil rights groups challenging a law in Oklahoma barring the teaching of “critical race theory” are urging a federal judge to take action in their two-year-old lawsuit, saying teachers are in their third year of self-censoring and students are being deprived of a “culturally inclusive education.”
In a motion filed in late September, the groups suing the state said the request for an injunction blocking enforcement of the law, known as House Bill 1775, had been pending for nearly two years and all written arguments from both sides regarding the injunction had been filed 19 months ago.
Moreover, a request in August for a conference to discuss the status of various motions has gone unanswered, they said.
Meanwhile, state leaders and education officials “continue to investigate school districts and enforce HB 1775 for activities such as training teachers on how to avoid being racially biased against students,” attorneys for the students and educators said.
U.S. District Judge Charles B. Goodwin is overseeing the case in Oklahoma City. Goodwin, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump, was confirmed in 2018 despite receiving a rare rating of “unqualified” from the American Bar Association’s judicial rating committee.
House Bill 1775 was approved by the Oklahoma Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2021.
The law bans the teaching in public schools of eight “concepts” taken verbatim from an executive order issued in 2020 by former President Donald Trump. Among the prohibited concepts are:
● One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
● An individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
● An individual, by virtue of their race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
● Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of their race or sex; and
● Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.
The state Board of Education adopted emergency rules to implement the law, which includes the right of a private citizen to sue over perceived violations.