The state of Georgia has been active in shaping its school curriculums through recent pieces of legislation. First, it was with House Bill 1084 or the “Protect Students First Act,” which requires schools to launch investigations at least three days after a parent files a complaint about the school curriculum. If parents aren’t satisfied, they can escalate the local and state school boards. But this bill, in tandem with another one passed Friday afternoon, could make constraints against teachers even harder to break.
Senate Bill 377 passed on a 32-20 party-line vote, according to Axios Atlanta. The bill itself defines “nine” divisive concepts which cannot be taught in the classroom if it becomes law. A couple of examples would be that one race or ethnicity is inherently superior to another and that the United States and Georgia are “fundamentally or systemically racist.”
The language in the bill does not “prohibit the discussion of divisive concepts, as part of a larger course of instruction, in an objective manner and without endorsement.”
According to the text of the bill, it also does not “prohibit the use of curriculum that addresses topics of slavery, racial or ethnic oppression, racial or ethnic segregation, or racial or ethnic discrimination, including topics relating to the enactment and enforcement of laws resulting in such oppression, segregation, and discrimination.”
Republican Sen. Bo Hatchett, the bill’s chief sponsor, explained that history could be explained without “making children feel guilty.”
“They are children, and we can teach these hard lessons, but at the end of the day…a teacher should not tell a child that because of their race, skin color or ethnicity, that they should feel guilty, that it is their fault,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Kim Jackson explained the bill would make it harder for teachers to explain to their students about the racism of the past and the current systemic challenges minorities face today.
“This bill…will be become in and of itself a prime example of systemic racism that is being enacted before our very eyes, not in the past, but now,” she said.”
Senate Bill 377 heads to the Georgia House, where it awaits a vote.