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Your Opinion: Phantom issues stoke culture wars

January 13, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

Jenny Smith

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

Our Missouri GOP lawmakers are masters at creating phantom issues to stoke the culture wars.

House Bills 1995 and 1474 are solutions looking for a problem. They would assure parents have a procedure to issue complaints about teachers. Never mind parents have never been prohibited from complaining to the local school boards, teachers or administrators. But now, teachers could be fined up to $5,000 if a parent can show a teacher has been teaching anything "divisive or controversial." It is not clear what the criteria for "divisive or controversial" is.

The phantom problem here is critical race theory. They allege it is widely being taught in our public schools, "teachers are turning our children into Marxists" and "white children are being taught to hate themselves."

There is no evidence any teaching of Black history in Missouri's public schools has created Marxists or caused psychological harm. The strategy is to create fear and whip up anger by making mountains out of molehills then rush in to "fix" the problem they fabricated.

Another gem in HB1995: There will no longer be requirements for children to be vaccinated to enter school. This gives you the personal freedom to expose others to these diseases and also to be exposed to other unvaccinated children. Great.

The seed of fear was planted with conspiracy theories about the vaccine; it has microchips, it will make you sterile, more people die from the vaccines than die from COVID-19. On and on. Or, government overreach! They are taking away your freedom! Yes, just like they do when they require seat belts or impose speed limits and stop signs. These are hyper-inflated and irrational fears but the trick works every time.

Where we once had civil and informed lawmakers that offered reasoned debate on real issues like economy, health care, education and infrastructure, we now have a clown show wasting time on made up issues.

More than a clown show, they do damage. HB1995 and HB1474 will hurt our public schools. Free public education is the greatest gift a democracy offers its people. Our public schools take the handicapped, gifted, impoverished and the behavior problems. Where will these marginalized children go once our lawmakers succeed in dismantling our public schools?

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