ATLANTA — A bill that would restrict teaching concepts like critical race theory advanced out of a state House subcommittee Wednesday – despite strong objections from some lawmakers and the public. The bill is one of a number of bills that Georgia conservatives are advancing this election year.
This bill would restrict public schoolteachers from telling children too much about race relations.
"Those kids are kids. They should not be political pawns for anybody," Republican state Rep. Will Wade said (R-Dawsonville), who is behind the bill that would restrict the teaching of racial concepts that he describes as “divisive.”
"I really do not understand what brought us here," State Rep. Doreen Carter said, (D-Lithonia), during the hearing.
She was among the critics who asked repeatedly what problem Wade was trying to solve.
"This is really a proactive piece of legislation," Wade answered, citing no instances of overreach in Georgia schools.
Wade said politically charged media have heightened racial tensions, which he said is reaching into Georgia classrooms. A handful of backers agreed.
"No child in America today should be made to feel guilty for things they did not commit," Cole Muzio told the House Education subcommittee Wednesday.
"I will not allow a child regardless of their skin color to believe the system is rigged against them because of the way they look," Rep. Brad Thomas added (R-Holly Springs).
But critics said the rigged system is real -- and that it’s OK if children learn about it.
"This is just the biggest slap in the face to Black people, and people that supported us in going forward and progressing into a stronger nation have fought for," Joshua Anthony said, a GSU student, during the hearing.
The bill uses language like “divisive concepts” and “race scapegoating” to curb the teaching of race relations -- and orders school boards to create a “complaint resolution policy” for parents if they don’t like what’s being taught.
"I’m concerned that this bill starts by defining and prohibiting a series of concepts that would be common in any discussion of race and identity," Mikayla Arciaga said of the Intercultural Development Research Association and a former high school teacher.
"We should teach about race and racism the same as we do math and chemistry – as accurately as we can," Andrea Young added, of the Atlanta branch of the ACLU.
The Republican-led subcommittee advanced the bill on a party-line vote.