Barring 'Divisive Concepts' in Schools Clears State Senate

Georgia legislature considers several similar bills on teaching race
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2022 1:15 PM CST
Barring 'Divisive Concepts' in Schools Clears State Senate
Georgia state Sen. Bo Hatchett, sponsor of the bill that passed his chamber Friday, talks to reporters after the vote.   (AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

(Newser) – Legislation prohibiting Georgia schools from teaching nine racial and ethnic concepts it defines as divisive has passed the state Senate. The bill cleared 32-20 on Friday, CNN reports, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats no, and goes next to the House. The measure also would apply to training in state agencies. Republicans in other states are pursuing similar legislation. The movement was sparked by the uproar over "critical race theory," which isn't taught in Georgia schools anyway, per WXIA.

The prohibited concepts include that one race or ethnicity is inherently superior to another and that the US and Georgia are "fundamentally or systemically racist." It specifies that teachers would not be allowed to make students feel demeaned or guilty because of their race, skin color or ethnicity. The legislature has four similar bills before it, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This one would withhold up to 10% of schools' funding for violations. Colleges and universities also could be docked, but the bill doesn't specify how much. Another bill would penalize schools up to 20% of their funding.

The sponsor of one of them said history could still be taught but teachers would not be allowed to include their political beliefs. GOP Rep. Bill Wade said he worked with school board and teacher groups on the bill, but they've said they're opposed to his bill. "All this bill does is muzzle our teachers and make them into a straw man for political gain from the true divisive voices in our communities,” said Democratic Rep. Matthew Wilson, a former elementary teacher. "This bill is whiter than the paper it's printed on," said the lawmaker, who is white. (Read more Georgia stories.)

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