State lawmakers will target racial history in public schools, partisan school boards – Georgia Recorder

Teachers and administrators across the state agree that critical race theory is not discussed in Georgia grade school classes, but it will be a hot topic under the Gold Dome in January as lawmakers return for the election-year legislative session.

But with a ban on teaching about racism and other cultural issues in schools dominating discussions before the start of the session, some worry more pressing problems such as reduced school funding could turn up.

Critical race theory, a term for a legal framework developed in the 1970s, that defines racism as arising from social forces rather than individual prejudice, has become a catch-all for directives that refer to racists throughout American history. Accepts formations such as Redlining and Jim Crow.

Opponents argue that focusing on these issues and tying them to modern problems weighted on racial minorities is divisive and paints people as oppressors or victims based on their race.

According to Google Trends, searches for Critical Race Theory were mostly flat from the start of tracking in 2004 until last May, when Internet interest peaked.

It was around the same time that parents began attending school board meetings across the state to demand an end to so-called critical race theory lessons.

During a May Cherokee County school board meeting, State Rep. Brad Thomas, a Republican from Holly Springs, said he had begun writing a bill to ban the critical race theory in schools.

The following month, the Georgia Board of Education approved a proposal that did not mention the critical race theory by name, but stated that the United States is not racist and that public school students should only be taught that Slavery and racism are a betrayal of the founding principles of the country. ,

Cummings Republican State Sen. Greg Dolezal listed the idea as one of the top targets of Georgia’s new Freedom Caucus, which he presides.

“When we see dangerous ideology creeping into our schools, we think that monitoring, ensuring that our children are taught how to think and what not to think, is at the forefront that we What can you do legislatively,” he said. “Our Kashmir through 12 education budgets represent 38% of the budget in the state of Georgia, and we want to make sure that investment is spent in a way that parents can be proud of.”

Emory Dunahue, the Gilesville Republican, another member of the Freedom Caucus, explained: “For 50 years we had the opportunity to teach not one doctrine, but four or five, for example, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Gandhi, different religions, different Belief. We should still have the right to hear all parts, not just one part. Much of the discussion, what will change, is CRT. Well, the important race is stronger than you think. I have been working on this for a year. There are some things that will come out later. But our first goal is to educate our children, and educate them not in one mind, but on what history really is and educate them on the process of learning how to make it happen in the real world.,

In January, Dunnahoo sent a letter to University System of Georgia administrators asking whether there were any sections in the state’s university system that teach about the concept of privilege or oppression, or whether white, male, heterosexual Christians intrinsically privileged. are received.

In a 102-page response, then-Chancellor Steve Wrigley said that the university system seeks to expand the minds of students and ensure that they are free from persecution and preaching.

Charles, a University of Georgia political science professor, said banning critical race theory from classrooms could be a victory for Republican lawmakers ahead of November’s election, but it could mean a powerful weapon against Democrats like Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock. Will be lost too. Bull. Attacks on critical race theory were seen as helping swing the Virginia governor’s race to Republican Glenn Youngkin.

“What we’ve been told is that there will be no impact on the curriculum because it’s not being taught anyway,” Bullock said. “Symbolically, yes, it can be important, although having done so, it may throw an issue out of play for choice. Where if you pass a law saying you can’t do it, now you can’t really run against it, can you?

Other Political Projects

At least on the ballot, the key race principle has been cited for making local school boards non-partisan across the state.

State Sen. Clint Dixon, a Buford Republican, last month put an end to a pair of bills that would change the composition of Gwynet County’s board of commissioners and school boards after receiving pushback from Democrats in Gwynette County, who said they would Advice was not taken.

Gwinnett has been at the forefront of Georgia’s move to become a swing state, and its school board came under Democratic control last year.

Geoff Duncan tapped Dixon to head a committee to study making all Georgia school boards non-partisan. More than 60% of Georgia’s school districts are already nonpartisan.

At the committee’s first meeting this month, Gwinnett County parents complained that new school board members were not responsive to parents’ concerns and had put new limits on the number of speakers at school board meetings. . Some listed controversial issues such as masks and racial education and argued that non-partisan elections would defuse tensions.

The Georgia School Board Association supports legislation calling for non-partisan election of local school board members. Democrats question the timing of the move and the focus on Gwynet.

Speaker Pro Tame Jan Jones also started the conversation in November with a tweet about removing some material from schools:

“I am working with House Education Chair Matt Dubnick and Rep. Chris Irwin to ensure that pornographic material has no place in public schools,” she wrote. “Let’s get it done this season!”

Superintendent Richard Woods was pleased to hear of this idea.

“This is great news,” he said in a tweet. “Obscene material has no place in our schools. We look forward to working with the House to protect our students and empower our parents.”

Jones did not elaborate on what she plans or what kind of pornographic material she expects to target. Democrats and First Amendment advocates said they fear banning books discussing race or LGBT issues from school libraries

A bill from Dallas Republican Sen. Jason Enavitarte, which passed in the Senate this year but stalled in the House, would require the Board of Education to adopt a grievance resolution policy for parents who want content available to their children. take issue with. The bill would charge school principals to make final decisions on materials that are subject to complaints.

budget matters

Both parental involvement in school decisions and minority representation are important discussions, said Stephen Owens, senior policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, but it can be frustrating when cultural conflicts begin to overwhelm more grounded issues.

“We have kids in the middle of a pandemic, with this new wave of coronavirus, schools operating under historic budget cuts, we have a hard time staffing schools, especially with substitute teachers and school bus drivers , so there are real crises that are going on inside public schools, and then there is CRTs,” he said. “They are two completely different things.”

Owens said he would look into House Bill 10, which would provide additional funding to schools that serve students living in poverty.

“Georgia is one of only eight states in the union that does not provide additional funding specifically to educate students living in poverty, so we are hoping we can move a bill like House Bill 10 ,” They said. “It’ll be about $343 million. It’s a bipartisan issue, it’s something that the Education Reform Commission of Government deal brought up in 2015, and now, the Democrats have signed a bill, we’re hoping that the Finnish A good bipartisan law would get across the line.

It’s also a good bet that private school vouchers will come again in 2022. Supporters say allowing parents to use state money to send their children to private school helps students living in low-performing districts. Opponents say the practice takes taxpayer money from schools that need it and funnels it into schools that don’t have uniform oversight. In 2021, Woodstock Republican Rep. A bill by Wes Cantrell to extend out-of-committee vouchers fell out of committee but never received a full House vote.

The state budget may be the piece of legislation with the most impact on Georgia’s public school students. The budget passed earlier this year marks the 18th year out of 20 that Georgia has failed to meet minimum public school funding based on its quality basic education formula, or QBE. During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Georgia have received nearly $6 billion in federal funding from the CARES Act, CARE II, and the American Rescue Plan.

“We have really solid revenue numbers, absolutely plenty of opportunity to fill in QBE, a number of other policies, like maybe eliminate teacher pay increases,” Owens said. “But I think that’s my big concern going forward. We continue to balance the budget on the backs of the kids in the state of Georgia. Right now, we have this historic investment in federal dollars, it’s really good for these one-time issues.” such as fixing HVAC, extending the school day, perhaps a one-time bonus for employees. But schools are afraid to use this money in a way that actually increases employees fear that it will take a couple of hours. Will be over in the year.”

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