Georgia Legislature Debates Bills Banning Critical Race Theory

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The Critical Race Theory (CRT) debate has dominated the national conversation on education since the wave of social unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020.

Over the next few months, America was forced to acknowledge its racist past in a new way.

While many people and institutions have begun the process of coming to terms with this story, just as many have been at work in municipal buildings and state legislatures across the country.

At the start of the current legislature, three Senate bills sought to prevent schools from teaching the darker aspects of American history.

On March 4, the Georgia State House voted in favor of HB 1084 and HB 1178. Bill 1084 seeks to prevent schools from teaching “certain concepts” while HB 1178 gives parents the right to “direct the education and the education of their minor children”. ‘

A motion to reconsider HB 1084 was introduced on March 4, and on March 8 the bill was defeated 71-92. This means that the bill will have to be discussed again and amendments can be added.

HB 1178 was, however, forwarded to the Senate where it was read on the floor and then forwarded to the Senate Committee on Education and Youth. There are three state senators who represent Atlanta on the committee, Donzella James (D-35), Sonya Halpern (D-39), and Elena Parent (D-42).

Although the CRT is not mentioned by name, each of these bills is sponsored by a legislator who has condemned a “divisive ideology,” with one representative calling it “un-American.”

Faith in Public Life, a nonprofit organization, organized an event to bring together black and Jewish clergy in the Atlanta area. Church leaders who spoke included Bishop Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church of Georgia, and Rabbi Lydia Medwin of the Atlanta Temple.

“True history teaching must include all of history. The good, the wicked, the proud and the shameful; above all the truth,” Jackson said.

While Jackson and many critics of the bills currently in the Legislative Assembly point out that CRT is college-level theory not taught in K-12 schools, it does little to appease those who want to ban it.

“History cannot be taught without including racism, the Civil War, discrimination, segregation, Jim Crow…all of our history,” he continued.

Medwin echoed Jackson’s sentiment about teaching all of history, even the bad sides, in Georgia schools.

“We need all of these stories and their complex truths,” Medwin said. “My kids need to learn about racism just like they need to learn about the Holocaust.”

Rabbi Medwin went on to say that the motivation behind trying to suppress black American history is the same motivation that seeks to suppress Jewish history.

Governor Brian Kemp has been a vocal critic of the CRT as well as the two Republican candidates vying for state superintendent.

In June 2021, the State Board of Education, which is appointed by the governor, passed a resolution against classes that would cause students to feel “uncomfortable, guilty, distressed or any other form of psychological distress in because of their race or gender. .”

In early February, Kemp ringleaders Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett) and Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville) both introduced legislation that would give parents more control over what their children learn at school.

In a statement, Senator Dixon said the legislation would ensure the rights of students and parents were protected by the state.

Critics of these types of bills like Raymond Pierce, president and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation, say they are an unnecessary distraction.

“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” Pierce said. The Voice of Atlanta.

Pierce added that while slavery, Jim Crow and segregation aren’t something to be proud of, he thinks they should be taught as part of American history.

He went on to say that the debate surrounding the CRT only further polarizes people while distracting from what he says are more pressing issues affecting Georgian students.

“We should focus on teacher retention and inequality. We need to match public education to the future needs of our society,” which Pierce says includes creating opportunities for STEM and vocational education.

While the Governor and his political allies have made it clear that banning CRT is a political priority, he also announced earlier this year $47 million in additional funding for K-12 and higher education across the country. the state.

While these types of legislation get more bipartisan support, they have not been the focus of the state Republican Party, which has centered the party platform on more politicized issues such as the CRT and the mandates of mask.

Editor’s Note: Are you a parent of a K-12 child? Do you have an opinion on critical race theory? Let us hear your voice by filling out our survey here.

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