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Superintendent Gist To Board: TPS Curriculum Does Not Conflict With Law On Teaching Race, Gender

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Administrators have reviewed Tulsa Public Schools curriculum in light of a new state law to limit certain teachings on race, gender and history, and the State Board of Education’s adoption of rules earlier this month to comply with that law.

TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist told the board during a Monday night meeting they found no conflicts with House Bill 1775 or the emergency rules.

"Our curriculum was designed to intentionally celebrate the diversity of our students. We are teaching our children history about our shared human experience, and this is history that is painful. But our approach is firmly grounded in the belief that one human being is not worth more than another," Gist said.

Gist said that finding includes in new lesson plans that look deeper into the history of Greenwood and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

"Our students and our team deserve this complete history, along with other history, including that which may be difficult to learn about and is too often and historically has been overlooked," Gist said.

Many Republican state lawmakers praised HB1775 as a ban on critical race theory. It never mentions critical race theory — the concept that white supremacy is embedded in U.S. laws, rules and regulations, having a disproportionately negative impact on people of color — but says no student should be taught their race or gender is inherently superior, racist or oppressive.

The state department of education could downgrade a school’s accreditation status or suspend the certificate of a teacher if they violate its rules around teaching about race, gender and history. 

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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