COLUMBUS, Ohio — Statehouse Republicans are trying to change the way teachers in Ohio teach about racism, slavery and other "divisive concepts." 

What You Need To Know

  • Hearings were held at the Ohio Statehouse on House Bill 322 and House Bill 327.

  • The bills look to eliminate discussion on "divisive concepts" like Critical Race Theory

  • More testimonies are expected to be heard in coming weeks

Two controversial bills surrounding Critical Race Theory got hearings Wednesday at the Statehouse.

Dozens of people packed into the House State and Local Government Committee meeting and hundreds more submitted testimony on House Bill 322 and House Bill 327. The majority of those who addressed the committee opposed both bills.

"Divisive concepts" such as Critical Race Theory and others ​should not be taught from pre-K through 12th grade, according to House Republicans who introduced House Bill 322.

"I was a teacher for 23 years. My fear is we are teaching kids what to think rather than how to think," said Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, who is the sponsor of the bill.

House Bill 322 was amended during the meeting to say the ban would go to all courses and not just history, civics and social studies as it was originally written.

House Bill 327 would stretch that ban into college.

"On March 28, 1963, it was [Dr.] Martin Luther King [Jr.] who stated during his 'I Have A Dream' speech, 'My four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.' Critical Race Theory has reached the point where it is heading in 180-degree opposite direction," said John Stover, President of Ohio Value Voters.

CRT has been taught for decades at the college level. It is the theory racism is rooted in the way government, the courts and other things function as opposed to racism simply being about behavior.

Both bills say whoever teaches about it would be in legal trouble.

"These distinctions are open to interpretation and likely to become frighteningly incomprehensible in taking into account the extreme and draconian penalties the bill will bestow upon students, schools and educators for perceived violations of divisive concept prohibition," said Scott DiMauro, President of the Ohio Education Association.

Ohio is one of 27 states that has either introduced bills or taken other steps attempting to limit teaching of CRT or how racism may be discussed in schools.​

Cincinnati Democrat Brigid Kelly tried to get the bills re-referred to the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, but that was shot down along party lines.

Chairman Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, said, after the committee heard three hours of testimony Wednesday, more testimony will likely be heard next Wednesday.