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Since my first election in 2016, I have never seen so many emails and so many calls from parents to our schools.
Most of the calls were from COVID-19 school sports restrictions, school closings, and then reduced school schedules, then masks, and now problems are surfacing about the critical racial theory that is taught in our schools. Efforts to protect women’s sport follow closely behind.
In Lebanon, concerns were more of a preventive nature when parents called me and my office and asked if the Department of Education can mandate Critical Race Theory in schools and what parents can do about it.
In response to concerns from parents and critics of the theory, the House of Representatives noted HB 1532, the “Law on Race and General Equality of Doctrine”, To counter concerns about the concept of Critical Racial Theory. I am a co-sponsor of the bill.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the following is straight from an article on what the theory is and what is not. “Critical Race Theory recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that enable it to thrive.”
âCritical Race Theory is a practice. It is an approach to addressing a history of white supremacy that rejects the belief that what is in the past is the past and that the laws and systems that grow out of that past are detached from it, âsaid KimberlÃ© Crenshaw, a founding critical racial theorist and a law professor who teaches at UCLA and Columbia University. “
In a press release, MPs Barb Gleim, R-Cumberland, and Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon said the Teaching Racial and Universal Equality Act, or HB 1532, aims to curb the divisive nature of concepts that have come to be known as’ Critical Racial Theory . ‘ â
âOur law makes it clear that no Pennsylvania school district, public post-secondary institution, or state or local government agency can teach that one race or gender is superior to another, that any person is inherently racist or sexist because of their race or gender or that everyone should be given preferential treatment or discrimination based on their race or gender, âsaid Gleim.
Lots States have already banned the theory from their schools or are there.
I suggest that school districts, school authorities, parents and our community begin an open dialogue about critical racial theory and other pressing issues in our schools as soon as possible to avoid a crisis of confidence.
The problems are not going to go away and the problems are manifesting themselves in potentially catastrophic ways as more and more parents demand more academic choices for students and parents in response to their concerns.
Some of the most pressing problems beyond Critical Racial Theory are:
- HB 972 Law on Fairness in Women’s Sports which limits girls’ sport to physical girls. The bill was largely drafted by female athletes who expressed concerns that the gains in Title IX would be reversed if women’s sport was not protected.
- Continuation of the mask requirement due to COVID-19 after the pandemic.
- Vaccination records are required. This topic has been a hot topic for educators, parents and students alike.
- Property tax increases due to increased educational costs
- School plans and closings that affect families with only one parent or when both parents are employed
- Charter school costs have an impact on the public school budget
- The never-ending dispute over the school funding formula, where most county schools receive around 25% from state and federal funds while Philadelphia schools receive approximately 58% its financing from state and federal funds. Only the Lebanon City Schools have a funding status similar to Philadelphia. This inequality is created by our citizens.
- Finally, unfunded pension obligations of the PSERS pension system. As the vice chairman of the system and chairman of the board of examiners, funding issues are significant and a major source of costs for all of our school districts.
This list is significant and requires immediate efforts from all of our parts.
I was pleased that the superintendents, whom I respect very much, worked diligently with me to try to resolve some of these issues. Other problems require more open participation, or the state will step in to resolve them in ways that may not be acceptable to many.
The problems identified here are reaching a boiling point and will not go away. Without input from ALL concerns, we run the risk of problematic decisions being imposed on us all.
Time is not on our side.
Our children depend on us.
Frank Ryan, CPA, Col USMCR (Ret) represents the 101st District in the PA House of Representatives. He is a Retired Marine Reserve Colonel, a CPA, specializing in corporate restructuring. He is Deputy Chairman of the PSERS Pension Board and its Chairman of the Audit / Compliance Committee. He can be reached at [email protected]
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