ATLANTA (AP) — Parts of Georgia Republicans’ agenda to increase parental oversight of schools and regulate what they teach about racial issues moved closer to law Friday with the passage of two bills in the State House.
Representatives voted 92 to 63 to pass Bill 1084, which bans the teaching of what Republicans call “divisive concepts” on racial issues and voted 98 to 68 to pass Bill 1178, which puts in a single law a number of parental rights that already exist. Both measures go to the Senate for further debate.
Both bills are an outgrowth of conservative fuss over how schools teach about race, sexual orientation and other topics. Other bills pending in Georgia would allow parents to request the removal of ‘inappropriate’ material, ban the teaching of ‘dividing concepts’ about race and ban transgender girls from playing on teams. female athletes.
Democrats say the bills are election season fodder for Republican primary voters, but also worry they’re designed to lock in a conservative, white, heterosexual vision of a society that’s less of those things than it is. was not before.
Higher education has not been left out of the scrutiny, as Republicans passed the long-debated Bill 1 that would ban public universities and colleges from limiting student speech or confining it to a few limited areas.
House Bill 1084 prohibits teaching a list of items originally listed in a 2020 executive order now repealed by former President Donald Trump. It now moves to the Senate for more debate. Republicans are reacting against critical race theory, a term expanded from its original meaning as an examination of how societal structures perpetuate white dominance to a broader indictment of diversity initiatives and education of the breed.
Banned “dividing concepts” would include claims that the United States is “fundamentally or systemically racist”, that all people are “inherently racist or oppressive, consciously or unconsciously”, and that no one “should feel discomfort, of guilt, anguish or anguish”. any other form of psychological distress due to their race. Bills using identical language have been proposed in dozens of states, backed by the Center for Renewing America, a think tank led by former Trump administration officials.
“I don’t believe we need to teach young students that an individual’s moral character is based on race, or that the United States is fundamentally racist, or that an individual bears responsibility for past actions. other people of the same race,” said Rep. Will Wade, a Republican from Dawsonville. “It goes against the fundamental belief that all human beings are created equal, regardless of race, their ethnic origin or gender.
Democrats, however, said the bill was likely to chill honest discussion about Georgia’s tough history of racial discrimination and forced eviction of Native Americans, particularly because it would allow a parent to challenge a lesson on the grounds that the teacher had improperly made a student “feel”. anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of his race”.
“When you’re uncomfortable, you start growing,” said Rep. Erica Thomas, a Democrat from Austell. “And how can we talk about our future if we can’t teach kids about our past? It’s uncomfortable. It’s divisive. It’s critical. But it’s American history.
House Bill 1178 states that parents have the right to inspect all school materials, the right to access all records relating to their child, the right to remove their child from sex education, and the right to prevent the creation of photos, videos and voice recordings of their children, except for security reasons. Many rights already exist.
The law would require local school boards to develop procedures for parents to object to materials used in the classroom.
“This bill is absolutely necessary,” said House Education Committee Chairman Matt Dubnik, a Republican from Gainesville. “It’s not controversial. It’s about parents’ access to transparency. As lawmakers, I don’t understand how we could vote against parents’ rights.
Democrats, however, say the bill could worsen an adversarial relationship between parents and teachers and flood schools with harassing demands.
“And now we want to put a burden on our teachers,” said Rep. Betsy Holland, a Democrat from Atlanta. “We say ‘We don’t trust you.’ We need to know everything you’re going to discuss with our children; we need to know in advance, and heaven forbid.”
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