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Chicken Fried News: Political detention


  • Ingvard Ashby

Two bills filed by state Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, take aim at teachers for having the audacity to ask for more funding and become politically active. The bills are retribution for last year’s teacher walkout and subsequent elections that saw educators swept into office and incumbents who came out against the funding largely defeated.

In total, 16 newly elected educators (nine Republicans and seven Democrats) won legislative seats this year, and Senate Bill 574 sponsored by Allen would ban teachers from discussing their former colleagues under a proposed “code of ethics” that each of the state’s school boards would be required to adopt.

The bill says that teachers, regardless of contract status, would be prohibited from endorsing candidates or legislation on a state, local or federal level. It would also prevent them from engaging in activity that might hamper or impede access of military recruiters to campus. Is this an actual problem or just a way to gain traction because “support the troops”?

Strangest of all, the bill would prohibit teachers from introducing any subject matter deemed controversial “that is not germane to the topic of the course being taught.”

The final point of the bill opens up more of a slippery slope than a 20 percent grade covered in ice, oil and soap. Can you imagine what might be deemed “not germane”? “Why did the colonists throw the tea into Boston Harbor?” “I’m sorry; I can’t answer that.”

History books are already inherently conservative in their telling of United States story, whitewashed through a narrative of constant progress that is overwhelmingly written by men. It might surprise some at the Capitol that Oklahoma existed before 1907.

Another bill proposed by Allen — Senate Bill 592 — would require a gathering for more than 100 people at the state Capitol to have a $50,000 bond, which is another shot at last year’s teacher protests and harkens back to “anti-bunching” laws employed by industrial barons during the country’s previous Gilded Age that banned four or more coal miners or steelworkers from gathering.

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