Lawmakers: Republicans propose more guidelines for teaching history and race on Day 16
The Senate Education and Youth Committee heard two bills about curriculum taught in schools on Monday.
Senate Bill 377, sponsored by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R- Cornelia), had its second hearing where it met criticism from educators and students. The bill would limit schools’ ability to teach “divisive concepts.”
Hatchett said banned topics included teaching that the U.S. is fundamentally racist, that one race is superior, that individuals should feel responsible for the actions of other people of the same race, and that individuals are consciously or unconsciously racist because of their ethnicity.
Several of the banned topics allude to critical race theory, which is not taught in Georgia schools. Critics of the bill say that it could infringe upon teachers’ abilities to teach accurate history about race.
Hatchett said that he did not intend to reduce teachers’ ability to teach history.
“I do not want to inhibit the teaching of history, which is why there is explicit language in this bill that speaks to this intent and which is why I asked my colleagues to please read the bill,” he said.
However, student James Wilson said that the bill should call out white supremacy if it wanted to reduce divisive concepts.
“If we really want to ban divisive concepts in school, why are there so many schools named after Confederate leaders?” he said.
The committee did not vote on the bill after more than an hour of public comment. It will be heard again before it is voted on.
The committee also heard SB 449, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon (R- Cumming). The bill focused on increasing parental involvement in schools. The bill would allow for parents to review instructional materials for children in schools and see their school records.
Supporters of this bill said that it allows more rights for parents. But critics said it could increase paranoia and burden teachers.
Andrea Young from ACLU Georgia said her organization opposed the bill and said it does not prioritize students.
“We need to help our kids catch up after a year of missed school, not turn classrooms into battlegrounds,” she said.
SB 449 passed the committee, and will move to the Rules Committee next.