Portions of Georgia Republicans’ agenda to improve parental oversight of schools and regulate what they teach on racial issues moved closer to law with the passage of two bills in the state house on Friday.
The House voted 92-63 to pass House Bill 1084, which bans the teaching of what Republicans call “divisive concepts” in racial matters, and 98-68 to pass House Bill 1178, the one There are a number of parental rights summarized in one law. Both measures will go to the Senate for further debate.
Both bills are a result of conservative ferment over how schools teach race, sexual orientation and other issues. Other pending legislation in Georgia would allow parents to require the removal of “inappropriate” materials, ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” about race, and ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams.
Democrats say the bills are fodder for the election season for Republican primary voters but also worry they aim to establish a conservative, white, straight view of a society that’s less of all those things than it used to be.
Higher education was not excluded from the scrutiny as Republicans passed the long-debated House Bill 1 that would ban public universities and colleges from restricting student speech or restricting it to a few limited areas.
House Bill 1084 prohibits the teaching of a list of items originally listed in a now-repealed 2020 executive order by former President Donald Trump. It now goes to the Senate for further debate. Republicans are reacting against critical race theory, a term that has been expanded from its original meaning as a study of how societal structures perpetuate white dominance to a broader indictment of diversity initiatives and racial doctrines.
Prohibited “divisive concepts” would include claims that the United States is “fundamentally or systematically racist,” that all people are “inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” and that no one has “discomfort, guilt, fear, or anxiety should feel”. any other form of mental distress because of his or her race.” Bills using identical language have been proposed in dozens of states, and are backed by the Center for Renewing America, a think tank run by former Trump administration officials.
“I don’t think we need to teach young students that an individual’s moral character is based on his race, or that the United States is inherently racist, or that an individual is responsible for the past actions of others of the same race, said Rep. Will Wade, a Republican from Dawsonville. “It contradicts the core belief that all human beings are created equal, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender.”
But Democrats said the bill is likely to discourage candid discussion of Georgia’s harsh history of racial discrimination and the forcible removal of Native Americans, particularly because it would allow a parent to contest a lesson on the grounds that the teacher gave a student an inappropriate ” feeling” fear or any other form of psychological distress because of his or her race.”
“When you’re uncomfortable, start growing,” said Rep. Erica Thomas, a Democrat from Austell. “And how can we talk about our future if we can’t teach children 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 review all educational materials, the right to access all records relating to their child, the right to opt-out of their child from any sex education, and the right to have photographs, videos and Language prevent recordings of their children, except for security purposes. Many of the rights already exist.
The law would require local school boards to develop procedures for parents to object to material used in class.
“This legislation is absolutely necessary,” said House Education Committee Chairman Matt Dubnik, a Republican from Gainesville. “It’s not controversial. This is about parental access to transparency. As a legislator, I don’t understand how we can vote against parental rights.”
But Democrats say the bill could worsen an antagonistic relationship between parents and teachers and swamp schools with harassing requests.
“And now we want to burden our teachers,” said Rep. Betsy Holland, a Democrat from Atlanta. “We say, ‘We don’t trust you.’ We need to know everything you are going to discuss with our children; we must know in advance, and heaven forbid you deviate from it.”
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