Ohio State Board of Education President resigns over ‘anti-racism’ resolution

Ohio State Board of Education President Laura Kohler turned in her resignation after voting against repealing an anti-racist resolution.

Ohio, a Republican-led state, has been divided over ‘Resolution 20’, which passed in 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s death. After voting not to rescind the resolution, she faced pressure that led her to resign. “I was aware there would be consequences,” Kohler said in an interview. “I’m a Republican. I knew it was a controversial vote” [Columbus Dispatch].

Laura Kohler is in her fifth year as the president of Ohio’s Board of Education. She is also a Republican, although she considers herself a “moderate” Republican [CNBC]. During the summer of 2020, she, and others, drafted ‘Resolution 20’, which is an anti-racism resolution. The resolution passed in a confirmation of Ohio’s belief in “excellence in education for all”, as well as opposition to racism.

Resolution 20 outlined all the ways Ohio’s children of color, particularly its Black boys, underperform compared to their white counterparts. The resolution called on the Ohio Department of Education and local school districts to confront and deal with implicit biases in test questions, disciplinary records and textbooks.

However, this year, some other board members drafted ‘Resolution 13’ to repeal the anti-racism resolution and replace it with one to promote academic excellence without “respect to race, ethnicity or creed.” It passed 10-7 and Kohler voted against it. She was informed that she would not be reappointed again and was asked to resign by the Governor, Mike DeWine.

She said that his request that she resign didn’t make her mind up but the threat of being voted out would be embarrassing not only for her, but for DeWine. She ultimately decided to step down. 

Another board member, Eric Poklar, who also voted against Resolution 13 and was an appointed member of the board, resigned this week. Three members who voted to repeal Resolution 20 have already been reappointed, seemingly for the way they voted.




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