(LibertySociety.com) – An Oklahoma law passed in 2021, commonly referred to as HB 1775, has been the source of multiple controversies surrounding instruction materials for teachers. The law was passed to prevent schools from “teaching students that any people are superior or inferior, just because of their race” or their gender, according to state Republican representative Kevin West. However, some believe that it has made teachers afraid to do their jobs and worried about accidentally teaching something that may violate the law. A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2021 is still under review.
Now, a new Martin Scorsese movie that is based on the book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” has brought the controversial law back into the spotlight. An Oklahoma teacher previously had planned to use the book during instruction but decided against it for fear of jeopardizing her teaching license or the accreditation status of the school. The book and the movie center around the 1920s-era murders of Osage people by white men who married Osage women to inherit oil royalties. The murders resulted in a massive criminal investigation by officials from the federal government, a group that eventually became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The movie has boosted Oklahoma’s economy, bringing in over $127 million in revenue and around 470 jobs. Some descendants of Osage tribe members believe that the state law has resulted in teachers opting out of teaching about race. However, the superintendent of public instruction for the state, Ryan Walters, said that there is no ambiguity with the law. “Don’t indoctrinate! Teachers should not tell kids they’re racist.” Two schools in Oklahoma have violated the law, which resulted in a downgrade of their accreditation status. One of the schools reportedly conducted teacher training that promoted white implicit bias. Oklahoma is one of several states that have prohibited the teaching and training of the connotations of critical race theory.
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