The school board of Newberg Public Schools in Oregon voted 4 to 3 Tuesday to prohibit Black Lives Matter (BLM), gay pride flags, and all other “political” items from classrooms. Now, Democrats in the state legislature are appealing the decision.
School Board Director Brian Shannon backed the initiative, telling his colleagues there should not be political messaging in the classroom in order for schools “[to] focus on the already difficult task of educating our students in the core subjects.” There are approximately 5,000 kids in Newberg School District, which is located in Newberg, Oregon.
Moving forward, the board plans to establish a policy committee comprised of three members. The committee will decide what other symbols are constituted as “political” and ought to be restricted from going on display. The board’s decision will apply to all nine schools in the district.
Shannon condemned “divisive symbols” and also called for a ban on educators wearing attire related to BLM or the pride movement, but that proposal has yet to pass.
Democrat Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, opposed the ban. Warner said in a statement, “These [flags] are emblems used by historically oppressed communities to create a safe space for students regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation” and “The board’s attempt to ban these symbols shows how great the need still is to better understand our history, not erase it.”
State Rep. Ricki Ruiz, a member of The Oregon Legislative Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus, said, ” …we’re keeping a very close eye on this.”
Dru Draper, communications director for the state’s Senate GOP, indicated support for the initiative, telling The Federalist, “Oregon classrooms have been failing kids for decades.”
“As shown by Democrat’s effort to turn Oregon’s high school diploma into a participation trophy, they are more focused on indoctrinating our kids and teaching critical race theory than teaching our kids to read and write. Our schools need to get back to the basics,” Draper also said.
In October 2020, the Oregon Department of Education passed a resolution to stand in solidarity with the BLM movement. Prior to this, the state’s board banned identified hate symbols from classrooms, such as swastika’s and confederate flags. The guidance was called “All Students Belong.”
The BIPOC Caucus also took issue with board members’ efforts to try and rescind the “All Students Belong” guidance, which will be reviewed at the department of education’s subsequent meeting.
“Removing this policy would also be a disservice to all students and their families, who in a diversifying job market and world will not be as competitive as others who have the skills to work within and contribute to an inclusive environment,” the caucus said in a statement.