When Georgia’s Legislature Pay Attention to Schools, Pay Attention

It is also likely that bills attempt to limit discussions of race and white supremacy in history classes. The model is a controversial new Texas law that seeks a balanced presentation of history and requires avoiding divisive or “race-related concepts that even suggest that a person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.” depending on their race or gender.

Passed this summer, Texas House Bill 3979 states that teachers who refer to “a current event or a widely debated and currently controversial public policy or social issue” should “endeavor to explore the subject from diverse and conflicting perspectives without worrying about any perspective. . This led the executive director of curriculum and education at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, to ask teachers during training on the new law to ‘make sure you have a book on the Holocaust, you have one who has an opposing – who has other perspectives.

The prospect of similar legislation in Georgia worries Jennifer Susko, who resigned her post as a school counselor at Cobb in July after the district banned discussions of critical breed theory. In a recent interview, Susko said the ban amounted to a gag order preventing staff from telling students about race-related trauma and their experiences as children of color in America.

“You take away their entire identity so you can look at their ancestors,” she said. “It’s empowering to tell students about their history because they know what the people before them have been through and what they are capable of. These laws about how our history is taught want to keep students from being uncomfortable or anxious, but the laws really speak about white students. What about when black students and children of color also experience angst or distress? “

A report released last month by the federal Government Accountability Office showed an increase in hate crimes in schools, noting that 1 in 4 of all students aged 12 to 18 in the 2018-2019 school year saw hateful words or symbols written in their schools, such as homophobic slurs and references to lynching.

Longtime education spending analyst Stephen Owens of the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute urges state lawmakers to focus on real funding issues rather than fabricated hysteria.

For example, Owens said Georgia remains one of eight states that do not include any additional amounts in their funding formula to educate students living in poverty. Georgia has also not fully funded the scarcity grants that help rural districts with low enrollment rates. Georgia has the perfect opportunity to finally meet these urgent needs with the COVID-19 federal dollars available over the next two years and then step up state funds, he said.

“You can be a diehard conservative champion while recognizing that 90% of children in this state attend Georgia public school,” Owens said. “It doesn’t have to be outside of conservative orthodoxy to do well through our public education system.”