The Center Square | by T.A. DeFeo | March 14, 2022
(The Center Square) – Georgia teachers would be banned from teaching “divisive concepts” in the classroom under legislation signed off on by the Georgia Senate.
The bill outlines nine “divisive concepts,” including that one “race or ethnicity is inherently superior to another race or ethnicity” and that an “individual’s moral character is inherently determined by his or her race, skin color, or ethnicity.”
“I vividly remember learning about slavery, learning about segregation, about the KKK, about the Holocaust, and those are some of the most memorable days of learning that a student experiences,” state Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia, said Friday during floor debate. “Those are the days when students learn just how deeply flawed people can be, how deeply flawed even government can be, and I’m among those who will tell you that those lessons are not just valuable, they are imperative.
“Our incredible teachers all across the state teach those lessons so eloquently, so memorably while intertwining those hard-hitting truths with progress, triumphs and sacrifices made along the way,” Hatchett added. “That gives us hope for our country, allows us to still believe that we, collectively, should be proud to be American, should be proud to be Georgians, and I believe that every single one of us in this room today understands our history and the ways it has shaped our present without having been taught that you inherited those burdens.”
Critics of the bill said it is unnecessary and will exacerbate a shortage of teachers in the state.
“Vague bans create fear among educators and will lead to more people leaving the field or deciding not to go into it to begin with when we need more teachers — especially teachers of color,” Sen. Sonya Halpern, D-Atlanta, said during floor debate. “And threats from the state will not encourage people to … join or stay in teaching. Of course, I agree that students should not be instructed that one race is inherently superior, but we already have laws and processes to prevent that in our classroom.
“… SB 377 is a law that targets teachers, creates unnecessary burdens and a pressure to self-censor, which can lead to students getting an incomplete view of history,” Halpern added. “I’m disturbed by this bill for many reasons, but overall I find it to be pessimistic. It assumes that our teachers are not capable of handling difficult topics despite their training and ongoing professional development, and it assumes that our students do not have the tools nor the capacity to handle complicated, complex and difficult discussions in an age-appropriate manner.”
The bill also includes a mechanism for parents to resolve complaints over curriculum.