Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Francis Howell School District Revokes Anti-Racism Resolution, Sparks Controversy
In a recent development, the Francis Howell School District in O’Fallon, Missouri has stirred controversy by revoking an anti-racism resolution that was previously passed in August 2020. This resolution, which aimed to address racism, discrimination, and promote racial healing within the learning community, has now been overturned by the district’s new conservative board members.
With the district consisting of primarily white students, accounting for approximately 87% of the student population, the decision to revoke the resolution has ignited tensions within the community. The board’s makeup has undergone a significant change over the past year, with new conservative members assuming their positions after promising action against teachings on race and sexuality during contentious school board elections.
The announcement of the resolution’s withdrawal at a recent board meeting was met with significant opposition from community members in attendance. Supporters of the resolution argue that it is crucial for creating a more inclusive and equitable school district, fostering an environment that sets clear expectations for behavior regardless of personal opinions.
On the other hand, board members who voted for the resolution’s revocation contended that terms such as “systemic racism” are undefined and open to interpretation, leading to differing viewpoints among individuals within the community. These members believe that the resolution, as it stood, lacked clarity and could create unnecessary divide.
The conservative political action committee (PAC) known as Francis Howell Families actively supported the newly elected board members responsible for revoking the resolution. The PAC described the original resolution as “woke activism” and drafted an alternative resolution opposing racial discrimination. However, the board has made it clear that they do not plan on adopting any similar resolutions in the future.
This decision has sparked a wider debate over critical race theory and related topics in various school districts, including Francis Howell. School administrators maintain that critical race theory is not taught in K-12 schools, while others argue that initiatives related to the theory are being pursued.
Interestingly, the Ohio State Board of Education also rescinded an anti-racism and equity resolution in 2021, replacing it with a statement focused on promoting academic excellence without any consideration for race, ethnicity, or creed.
The reverberations of racial issues in the St. Louis region still resonate, especially after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Concerned voices worry that the revocation of the anti-racism resolution sets a dangerous precedent for future actions by the new board, potentially hindering progress towards a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.
As the debate surrounding critical race theory continues, it remains essential for communities and school districts to engage in constructive dialogue to find common ground and ensure that the education system provides an environment where all students can thrive, regardless of their background or ethnicity.