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Georgia GOP senators take on 'woke' education with anti-DEI bill

Critics say DEI does not just mean race -- and this can hurt students with disabilities, different personalities.

ATLANTA — Georgia Senate Republicans want to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion questions from school applications.

SB 261 is part of a national conservative backlash against efforts to make diversity, equity and inclusion part of public education and hiring.

Just for fun, State Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) says he filled out online applications to teach at two Georgia colleges. He says each of them asked for his resume – and asked him to include a statement about his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

"They asked you basically to swear your allegiance to DEI," Dolezal said in an interview Tuesday. He says it was immaterial to the job of teaching.  

"It's a litmus test to prescribe to the 'woke' agenda in this – obviously part of the battle we’re facing in education all over the country," he said. 

Dolezal introduced a bill he calls the “End Political Litmus Tests In Education Act.” Similar ones have been introduced across the country.

The bill would outlaw public schools and state colleges from requiring applicants to pass a “political test... soliciting an applicant… to identify a commitment to… diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Fox News and other conservative outlets have railed against diversity, equity and inclusion. Dolezal says DEI questions can disqualify politically conservative applicants.  

"There's value to having teachers who can teach. And to put this requirement in is going to preclude qualified individuals," Dolezal said.

Sen. Jason Estevez (D-Atlanta) chaired the Atlanta Board of Education for four years.  He says Dolezal’s bill is misguided.  

"Without a doubt, you immediately associate diversity and inclusion with race. And my point is, it should not," Estevez said. "In education, that can also mean how to include students with disabilities in the conversation, how to include the quietest child in your classroom and how to include the most active child in your classrooms."

Dolezal’s bill has 23 cosponsors, including some of the Senate's most powerful Republicans. No Democrats have signed on. 

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