Perrysburg Schools debates cultural intelligence

Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 12:45 AM EDT

PERRYSBURG, Ohio (WTVG) - The debate over critical race theory (CRT) has come to Perrysburg Schools. CRT is a curriculum that teaches that racism has been built into the structures of our nation’s history. It was the hot topic at Monday night’s Perrysburg School Board meeting.

Superintendent Tom Hosler has said on multiple occasions that the curriculum has not, and will not be taught in Perrysburg. But the student curriculum was not what was on fire Monday. It was the CQ Committee, which stands for cultural intelligence.

“But for those two who are maybe different from everybody else, how are we going to equip our staff to better understand them?” asks Hosler in his presentation at the meeting.

At the meeting, Hosler gave a presentation about CQ. In it, he discussed fictional students 26 and 27 - the students in the classroom that are different from the other 25. Those students may be experiencing poverty, or they may have a learning disability. They could have a parent in the military. In 2014, the board created the CQ committee to educate teachers about how better to connect with those students 26 and 27 in their classes.

Hosler shared in his presentation that nine years ago, 89% of Perrysburg students are White. Today, 80% are. Meanwhile, more than 96% of Perrysburg Schools teachers are White. More than 11% of the student body qualifies for federal poverty assistance, and nearly 10% are on an Individualized Education Plan. Hosler says those are students that the teachers may not naturally know how to relate to, and the CQ committee can help them learn how to better serve those students.

But some say that the CQ committee’s webpage cross the line into CRT. Community members flooded into the school board meeting to share their views. Many carried signs stating that CRT is racist.

“Everyone agrees about respecting and valuing others, simply because we’re all God’s creation, and I reject any example that tells anyone to prejudge or treat someone differently,” says Perrysburg resident David Olin when it was his turn to address the board.

Those against CQ argue that it’s just another name for CRT and that it creates division and treats people differently.

“We should be talking and aiming on excellence, common standard, challenging people of all backgrounds to achieve their potential. On the scale of desirable traits, excellence beats diversity every time,” says Perryburg resident Robin when it was her turn to take the podium. Robin refused to provide 13abc with her last name.

The school board chose to create a subcommittee to review the CQ committee’s webpage and make sure that it does not stray into CRT. All board members voted for the subcommittee except for current CQ member Gretchen Downs.

“How wonderful we are as a district that we want to invest our time and our energy on that one child who can’t get through the day, and this is what the CQ Committee is all about,” she says.

But there were many who came to speak in support of the CQ committee.

“The teachers that want to know and do better, without that, we’ll continue to be ignorant,” says Lisa Hawker.

“We’re talking about school systems that have been in place since people thought it was their God-given right to own another human being,” says Perrysburg High School incoming senior Hana El Nemr.

El Nemr shared her experience attending Perrysburg Schools as an immigrant.

“You’re having students who are speaking to you telling you that they don’t feel included, and you’re going to tell them that that’s not the case?” she asks.

The subcommittee reviewing the CQ webpage will be made up of teachers and community members. It will create a report that it will present to the board. The report will be made public.

Copyright 2021 WTVG. All rights reserved.