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Course on Race ‘Paused’ at Community College

June 1, 2021

A course on race at Oklahoma City Community College will not be taught this summer, though enrollment was full, for fear it may violate a new state law, KOCO News reported.

Melissa Smith, the instructor, has taught the course for six years. "I'm not happy. This is information everyone needs to know," Smith said.

When Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed the bill into law, he said, "We can and should teach the history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex. I refused to tolerate otherwise."

The Oklahoma law bars a course where “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

A spokesman for the college released this statement to Inside Higher Ed: "OCCC has paused a summer class in our social sciences division related to race and ethnicity, so we can evaluate SB 1775 and its impact -- if any -- on this and other classes. That class is not permanently removed, nor has its content been altered in any way at this time. We offer students an academically-equivalent, substitute class to ensure they don’t lack required credits related to their degree or certificate pursuits. Oklahoma City Community College’s instruction standards promote thinking critically, examining multiple viewpoints and experiences, and preparing students for a diverse world. This includes sober reflection and instruction about the legacy of racism in the United States. We aim to lower the temperature of extreme positions, to expose our students to a wide range of views about the complexities of race and ethnicity, and to challenge our students to think, practice civil discourse and debate, and embrace every opportunity to learn about experiences others have had that are different than their own. We believe we can navigate these objectives while working within the guidelines of SB 1775."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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