LFC Comments by Brian Massie, Executive Director
Thanks to a Concord lobbyist for sending this information to us. The following are comments from a retired teachers’ group taking the opposite position on HB 616. All I can say is we have to keep pushing back against groups such as this. The communists have done a superb job of infiltrating the teaching colleges.
Far too many teachers, retired and active, and administrators believe that the parents should have no say what is being taught in public schools. They are in for a rude awakening!
This month’s legislative update has information on HB 616, an extreme bill that limits what can be taught and discussed in school, along with updates on other bills in the state legislature and President Biden’s federal budget proposals on education.
HB 616: Ban on divisive topics and “don’t say gay” bill
Last week, Representatives Mike Loychik (R-Cortland) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) introduced House Bill 616. This bill combines the worst parts of HB 327, which bans divisive books and concepts, with an even more extreme version of of Florida’s HB 1557, which bans teaching or discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Florida bill has become known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and has drawn widespread criticism.
This bill puts politicians in control of what can be taught in Ohio classrooms and even what classes a teacher can take for license renewal. Violations of the bill could result in suspended or revoked licenses for educators and financial penalties for school districts.
In some ways, HB 616 goes even further than HB 327 and the Don’t Say Gay bill. OFT joined the chorus of education, human rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ rights organizations who have publicly spoken out against this bill. HB 616 is so extreme that even the Ohio Chamber of Commerce opposes it, because it may prevent people and businesses from moving to Ohio.
You can read a summary of HB 616 from Honesty for Ohio Education, a coalition that OFT is proud to be a member of. Some key points of HB 616:
- Bans books and concepts that are considered “divisive.” Similar to HB 327, the language of this bill is vague enough to seriously impair what teachers are able to cover in a classroom.
- Allows the heavily politicized state Board of Education to determine what is “divisive.”
- Requires ODE to conduct 119 hearings to determine if school personnel violated the law, with the potential penalty of suspending, limiting or revoking an educator’s license.
- Limits what classes an educator can take for continuing education credits or license renewal.
- Includes the language of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that prohibits the education and discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
- If a school district violates the bill, ODE can withhold funds from that district.
- The bill’s limitations apply to traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools accepting state vouchers.
Update on other state bills:
HB 583 EDUCATOR LICENSES – TEACHER SUBS (Bird, Jones) – This bill extends the relaxation of requirements for substitute teacher licensure. OFT added an amendment that establishes a study committee of stakeholders convened by the House and Senate Education chairs to look at the root causes of substitute teacher shortage. OFT is monitoring this bill.
Passed by the House with an 80-10 vote, pending Senate action.
HB 601 STRS COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS (Lightbody, M) – This bill increases contributions for employers to the State Teachers Retirement System and School Employees Retirement System from 14% to 18%, establishes minimum amounts for certain STRS cost-of-living adjustments, and eliminates an age-related eligibility criterion for retirement in STRS. OFT supports this bill.
Assigned to the House Insurance Committee for a First Hearing.