An illustration of books falling from the sky.
Credit: Sam Bermas-Dawes, GPB News

The panel: 

Lisa Morgan — President, Georgia Association of Educators 

Brian Robinson — Republican strategist  

Ty Tagami — State education reporter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 


The breakdown: 

1. Pandemic restrictions and inflamed rhetoric in the lead-up to 2022 elections are spurring division on education.

  • Several bills related to masking and parents' rights are on the floor. 

    • House Bill 1178 and Senate Bill 449, both known as a  “parental bill of rights,” are backed by Gov. Brian Kemp.
    • Kemp is scheduled to sign a bill into law this afternoon allowing parents to exempt their children from school mask mandates.

Georgia Association of Educators president Lisa Morgan said teachers and students are frustrated and have had little relief through a trying pandemic.

2. Bills targeting transgender issues, students also take center stage this legislative session.

  • SB 435 would ban schools from allowing transgender girls from participating in sports that align with their gender identity unless there is no equivalent sport offered by the schools. 
  • SB 613 would ban private schools from discussing “sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels.
    • This legislation models itself after Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law, which was signed yesterday by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 


3. Critical race theory is a hot-button issue, but it is not taught in Georgia's public schools.

  • Critical race theory focuses on how historical inequities and racism continue to shape American society.
  • Last year the governor-appointed Board of Education approved a resolution that bans teaching of divisive topics. 
  • SB 588 would confirm the public’s right to attend school board meetings  
  • Students from Savannah traveled to the Capitol on Monday to speak out against HB 1084, another divisive concepts bill. But their testimony was not heard by the Education Committee.

 4. Private school voucher legislation that was rejected by the Georgia Senate earlier this month remains an issue.

  • Proponents of the measures say it would allow more parents to have "school choice."
  • But critics of the bill say the vouchers serve as a coupon for parents who can already to send their kids to private schools.
    • The proposed legislation would offer families $6,000 to pay for private school. 
    • The average private school in Georgia cost around $11,000 annually.


Tomorrow on Political Rewind:

Host Bill Nigut returns with a panel including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein.