Oklahoma Republican All Set To Ban Teaching *Everything*
Oklahoma state Sen. Rob Standridge (YouTube screenshot)

Okay, perhaps our headline stretches things just a little bit. But only a teensy bit. We'll give Oklahoma state Senator Rob Standridge this much: He's not unambitious. Standridge is the guy who sponsored that brilliant bill that would require school libraries to remove any materials about sexuality (especially the existence of LGBTQ folks) within 30 days if a parent complains — no review or appeal possible. If librarians don't comply, they could be fired and banned from working in Oklahoma schools for two years, and parents could sue to collect $10,000 per day that the offending material remained.

Standridge really likes that mechanism of automatic penalties, it seems, and has now brought forward an even more sweeping, clearly unworkable and unconstitutional bill that would prohibit schools from employing any

person that promotes positions in the classroom or at any function of the public school that is in opposition to closely held religious beliefs of students.

The new bill, Oklahoma SB 1470, could pretty much be deployed to silence any public school teacher, at least if it somehow passed and withstood review by the courts, which seems likely only in the Republic of Gilead. Which seems to be Standridge's goal anyway.

This seems as good a time as any to mention that Oklahoma law limits state legislators to a total of 12 years in office, whether they're in the House, Senate, or some combination, so Mr. Standridge won't be running again after his current term ends in 2024. Guess he wanted to get all his craziest ideas out in public to cement his legacy.

The penalties are, as you'd expect, draconian. If a teacher does say something "in opposition to closely held religious beliefs of students," then a parent or guardian could sue, and the teacher would be enjoined from teaching whatever it was that went against the student's religious beliefs. If the school didn't immediately comply, then anyone involved in the decision would be fined $10,000 "per incident, per individual," to be paid from their own personal resources.

What's more, if the teacher or administrators seek help to pay the fines, from a group or other individual, they'd be fired and banned from any school job for five years. And if any term of that penalty isn't met — like, presumably if a teacher didn't have $10,000 handy for each time they said "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," or "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Chanukah," the parents could go back to court and have everyone involved barred forever from any school job in Oklahoma.

As that "Merry Christmas" example suggests, there's a bit of a problem there, what with America being a pluralistic society. Like, even in Oklahoma! As Rafi Schwartz notes at Mic, SB 1470's language is "vague enough as to leave wide open what being 'in opposition' actually constitutes" in the first place. Presumably, that might include a Jewish family offended by the hearing the phrase that the Evangelical family would sue over not hearing, to say nothing of an atheist or polytheist who might be offended by "One nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. (Schwartz points out that Standridge "pushed to require" the pledge in all schools. Lucky thing Standridge isn't a teacher!)

Schwartz, who clearly must have been a real troublemaker in eighth grade, also notes that the bill is a no-brainer when it comes to evolution: Clearly a fundamentalist family would sue over that being taught in biology class. Problem is, Oklahoma's official science education standards require that evolution be taught.

Well then, anyone in the school system who actually complies with those state standards would have to be fined and potentially fired, now wouldn't they? The only real question would be whether the educators who wrote the standards could be fired, since they don't actually work at all schools in the state.

Guess that's what the amendment process is for.

As with Standridge's earlier fire all the librarians bill, this heaping pile of roadkill armadillo innards seems so blatantly unconstitutional that it's unlikely to pass, but that's not really the point anyway. The point is to tell the far-Right Christianists that Standridge is on their side, that he knows the schools are full of evil commies who want to indoctrinate innocent children and make them read Toni Morrison novels.

Oh yes, Standridge recently had a Facebook fit about The Bluest Eye, because it includes a rape scene, making it unfit for the delicate little children who take Advanced Placement English in 12th grade. Mind you, the class handout he included specified that students didn't have to read that section. Weirdly, Standridge — who took pains to say he would never read the book — seems to be under the impression that high school students don't know how to read:

I am struggling here trying to think of any parents that would read this to their child. But what parent would want a person they probably never or hardly met, and certainly whose belief system is unknown, read or recommend a book with such a scene to their teenage child. It is a parent's responsibility and exclusive right to guard (yes, censor) what materials are appropriate for their child.

Nice to see he at least is willing to go on the record as endorsing censorship. Why can't schools just teach good things, like how Jesus loves us?

At least, until the parents who attend the Satanic Temple sue the school.

[The Lost Ogle / Mic / Oklahoma SB 1470]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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