Georgia faculty officers condemn some teachings about race

ATLANTA – Georgia’s Education Committee passed a resolution Thursday stating that the US and Georgia are not racist and that students should not be taught that racism or slavery are anything but deviations from the country’s “authentic founding principles”.

The measure – approved by 11-2 votes – was introduced amid a national racial settlement that has led lawmakers in Republican-controlled states across the country to define what racial ideas can be taught in public schools and colleges. It also followed a letter the Georgia governor – who appoints the board members – sent last month encouraging them to take such action.

The decision is symbolic and does not impose any restrictions on school districts or teachers, but could lead to binding rules in the future.

“This resolution does not prohibit anyone from teaching anything,” said chairman Scott Sweeney during the telephone session. “More than anything, this is a statement of belief or an affirmation.”

Additional provisions advocated by the Board of Directors state that teachers should not “instill” the idea that the race of people naturally or unconsciously oppresses them, or blames them for the past actions of other members of the same race. It also states that trainers should not be forced to teach “currently controversial public policy or social issues”.

Board member Kenneth Mason, who is Black, said the resolution encouraged people to remain silent about any racism they have experienced.

He said the statement “reading it made me feel like I didn’t belong” because it “excused” the racism he and his family had faced.

Helen Rice, another board member, said the goal is not to race people but to encourage teachers to give students facts rather than indoctrinate them.

“We’re not excluding anyone,” she said.

In his letter last month, Republican Governor Brian Kemp urged the board to “take immediate steps to ensure that Critical Racial Theory and its dangerous ideology does not find its way into our state standards or curricula.”

Critical Race Theory tries to show how historical injustices and racism still shape public order and social conditions today. Republicans say it promotes a skewed view of American history and denigrates white Americans.

There is little evidence that the theory is currently being taught to any of the 1.7 million students in a public school in Georgia.

The resolution passed on Thursday also contains other anodyne statements condemning the doctrine that one race is superior to another or that racial discrimination is okay. But much of the discussion has centered on the first line, which says that the board of directors believes that “the United States of America is not a racist country and that the state of Georgia is not a racist state”.

Sweeney said that while there is racism in the country, he doesn’t think the whole country is racist. The resolution targets all kinds of divisive doctrine, including white supremacy, he said.

Board member Tracey Pendley agreed that it was wrong to call the entire state racist, but she said it was just as problematic to “say categorically that Georgia is not racist”. She urged board members to learn about systemic racial barriers in the country, including housing and law enforcement.

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