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Opinion: We need racial healing, not racial division

I have been very fortunate in my life to be involved in public service on behalf of Missourians at the local, state, and federal levels. It’s no secret that in my career of public service, I have made a conscious effort to promote policies that uplift the Black community, from passing hair braiding freedom legislation to fighting for economic empowerment to fighting for criminal justice reform to speaking out against racism and hatred wherever I see it. This is core to who I am. One of my strongest convictions is that lifting Black people up does NOT require tearing anybody down. To me, that’s the biggest mistake made by the Woke Left today.

Rep. Shamed Dogan

If “diversity” means creating pipelines for minorities to get educational opportunities and jobs, identifying obstacles that stand in their way, and working to reduce those obstacles, I’m all for it. But if it means quotas? That’s a hard pass from me.

If “equity” means working to lessen academic achievement gaps and increasing academic excellence for minority students, I’m all for it. But if it means eliminating gifted classes, removing standardized testing, or calling math and English literature “white supremacist?” Hard pass.

If “teaching Black history” means that we need to tell hard truths about the horrors of slavery, the cruelty of slaveowners, the white supremacy that was encoded into Jim Crow laws for a century after Emancipation, and just how amazing it is that Black people managed to survive and fight for themselves in a country that brought us here as chattel, I’m all for it. But if it means attacking white people as inherently racist and failing to acknowledge the progress that our country has made towards racial equality in the past few decades? Hard pass.

And for my conservative friends, if “opposing CRT” means opposing the excesses of the far left and keeping public schools from being places of indoctrination, I’m all for it. But if it means you can’t stand your kids learning about the perspectives of authors like Toni Morrison and Ruby Bridges or discussing ideas related to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Yet another hard pass from me.

I don’t want public schools teaching leftist ideology as truth, but I also don’t want to ban teaching ABOUT controversial ideas — whether the ideas come from the left or from the right. Conservatives should not become the cancelers we claim to hate. We need to promote a conservative vision for what diversity and inclusion should mean in an increasingly diverse country instead of solely being a reactionary force against those ideas.

That’s why I have introduced HB 2428, a bill that will clarify and strengthen our laws against nondiscrimination in public schools. My bill reinforces that our schools must obey both the spirit and the letter of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. This will keep schools from forcing teachers to teach ideologically charged theories on race — such as those found in the 1619 Project — as uncontested truth and from forcing students to affirm or adopt any of those theories themselves. Education must be about teaching students how to think critically, not about indoctrinating them. At the same time, my bill does not ban any specific curricular materials or discussions of controversial ideas. We should give our educators the flexibility to teach about America’s complex history while also holding them accountable if they teach toxic beliefs about inherent racial superiority or inferiority or collective racial guilt to our children.

At the end of the day, many of these controversies would be lessened if students and parents were more empowered to receive an education that fits their needs, whether at a public school, private school, or through homeschooling. The more we treat each other — including and especially our children — as unique individuals with diverse talents, cultures, and interests, but endowed with the same God-given rights, the more likely we are to be able to love and respect each other.