Georgia Board of Education targets teaching of ‘critical race theory’
In a blatant effort to ignore and erase what has occurred in the country as it pertains to race and slavery, the Georgia Board of Education did their best impersonation of an ostrich this week as they stuck their heads in the sand and foolishly followed the Governor’s demands regarding an issue that impacts all.
Two weeks ago, Governor Brian Kemp sent a letter to his board urging them to oppose the teaching of “critical race theory” in Georgia schools and the Kemp appointed board delivered. Despite widespread criticism that their actions would suppress open discussion of America’s history of racism, the board fully endorsed Kemp’s opposition. The education body for the state passed a five-page resolution, 11-2, that proclaimed their belief that the United States “is not a racist country, and that the state of Georgia is not a racist state.” Critical race theory is a divisive ideology that should not become a standard taught in Georgia classrooms, board Chairman Scott Sweeney said before the vote by the board. “Is there racism within this country? Absolutely,” Sweeney said. “Is the entire country racist? I don’t agree with that.” Board member Mike Royal joined Sweeney in saying the resolution is intended to ensure the teaching of American history in Georgia is not one-sided. “History needs to be taught not from one particular viewpoint but from both sides,” Royal said.
Sweeney and the other members ignored the fact that one sided history has been taught for years in the school system in a blatant effort to ignored and erase what has occurred in the country as it pertains to race and slavery. Some say that if they want examples of racism at work, look no further than to the makeup of their board that was appointed by Kemp. Of the 15 member board, only 3 are black. They also point to senior officials in the Kemp administration as another example of racism at work as Kemp’s appointees who are making high salaries in state government look like him, not the people who he is blatantly trying to block from having their history told through the educational process in Georgia. Kemp, Sweeny, and others fail to consider the negative impact on black children when an understanding of their history is blocked, suppressed, or forbidden for the continued benefit and comfort levels of others.
The resolution may have passed the board by a majority of the members; however, it does not have unanimous support as reflected in comments from those in dissent. Board member Kenneth Mason, who is Black and voted against the resolution saying it sends the wrong message by stifling discussion of racism in Georgia classrooms. Said Mason, “It says, ‘If you have experienced racism in your life, you should be silent. That’s extremely disappointing to me.”
“We can’t ignore the extensive research into the systemic [racial] barriers that exist in our country,” said Georgia’s Teacher of the Year, Tracey Nance Pendley, who serves on the board in an ex-officio capacity. Pendley says the wording of the resolution appears to censor teachers. “I worry not being allowed to discuss current events could be damaging,” she added.
Their resolution also opposed the use of public education resources in what they allege would be an “indoctrination” of students in any political ideology or theory or accepting either federal or private funding that require teaching that anyone is inherently racist or inherently a victim of racism.
The Biden administration is proposing to prioritize critical race theory — which emphasizes the existence of systemic racism in the United States — in the awarding of federal grants.
A former member of the Cobb Board of Education, Chairman Sweeney claims there is nothing in the resolution limiting what teachers can teach. “This resolution doesn’t put the brakes on anything that is already occurring in the classroom. This is a belief statement more than anything else.”
Last month, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr joined Kemp in his opposition to the teaching of critical race theory. He and 19 other Republican attorneys general sent letters opposing the U.S. Department of Education plan. Critical race theory seems to be the partisan football for the upcoming political season as they try to score points and pit races against each other. No one can erase slavery or the ill effects of it from our history, regardless of the letters, resolutions, or other actions that are undertaken by people who were not enslaved.