CLEVELAND (WJW) – A recently introduced Ohio senate bill would make sweeping changes to Ohio colleges and universities by mandating courses in American history, banning diversity training, as well as academic and financial relationships between Ohio higher education institutions and its counterparts in China, among other requirements.
State Senator Jerry Cirino, a Republican representing Kirtland, sponsored Senate Bill 83, called the Higher Education Enhancement Act. He is the chair of the Workforce and Higher Education Committee.
“This bill is a course correction,” said Cirino. “I see a lot of our state universities and our community colleges are going down a path, some might call it a woke path. I think the right mission that should be pursued by our institutions of higher learning is that they need to train students how to think, not what to think.”
Senate Bill 83 would also require a more rigorous evaluation process for both tenured and nontenured staff, in addition to requiring course syllabi be posted publicly in addition to the background of the professor teaching the course. Faculty could also be prohibited from striking during contract negotiations.
“Our institutions are becoming more focused on trying to advance social engineering than they are on advancing the diverse, true diversity of opinion,” said Cirino.
Those critical of the bill include ranking member of the Workforce and Higher Education Committee, State Senator Catherine Ingram. The Democrat representing Cincinnati says the bill is an unnecessary attempt to micromanage higher education.
“The language is cited as it’s not allowing students to be healthier by their own learning and understanding and creating critical thinkers,” said Ingram. “We are telling people what they can’t teach. We are telling people what must be said in those classrooms.”
One Cleveland State University student said he would like to learn more about the bill but has no complaints about the quality of his education.
“As far as I can say about the campus, about the resources we got, it’s pretty useful and pretty much everything is going on the right track here,” said Muhammad Subhan.
Although the bill is on the radar of local colleges and universities, requested comments were considered “premature” at this stage. Private institutions could also be impacted if this bill becomes law.
“We can’t tell them how to run their operations,” Cirino said. “But when they come to the states and ask for state dollars, for capital projects, we are going to require them to attest to many of the same things in this bill that will apply to the public universities.”
Cirino said elected officials have a seat at the table on this issue of higher education given the role played in funding colleges and universities.