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National Education Reform Hits Georgia Senate


As of March 2022, 37 states have passed or attempted to pass legislation for education reform that restrict teaching race or racism through the lens of “Critical Race Theory.” However, the true definition and intention of Critical Race Theory is far from what majority Republicans are trying to restrict in schools. 

Critical Race Theory, or CRT, has in the last two years become another flashpoint in America’s cultural divide. With both the left and the right claiming a monopoly of truth, the true definition and intention of CRT has become increasingly unclear. 

Kendall Thomas, author of “Critical Race Theory: the key writings that formed the movement” and Columbia law professor, defines CRT as a way in which to help Americans understand “the legacy of racism in America, however painful it may be.” 

CRT was theorized in the mid 1970’s when a group of Black, Asian and Latino scholars began looking at the persistence of inequality throughout American institutions despite the major landmark victories of the civil rights movement.

Reformation Protest Photo by: Mathias Redding

CRT’s focus is on how Americans are unintentionally a part of an inherently racially biased society, and how these biases stem from the past and continue to shape major American institutions.  

Having been most used as a legal academic framework, CRT has been utilized to examine issues in housing and educational sectors, as well as racial biases and criminal justice reform. For the past four decades, CRT has widely only been well known to legal scholars as well as racial activists and reformers. 

Discussion on the decades-old topic began after the death of George Floyd in May 2020 at the hands of Minnesota police officers as schools began to look at reforms that better addressed race in the classroom. 

The defensive reaction to the discussion of CRT gained traction after the nationwide protests turned violent and far right wing conservatives pushed back against the Black Lives Matter movement. 

BLM Protest Photo by: Life Matters

The push against CRT gained mass support when President Donald Trump directed Federal agencies to end any diversity training related to CRT. Ultimately, this direction was denounced on First Amendment grounds and rescinded in 2021 by the Biden administration. 

In response to the racial debate over the last two years, 36 states have attempted to restrict education on racism and related topics while 17 states have attempted to expand education on racism and related topics. 

The most recent attempt to restrict racial education in K-12 schools, Georgia House Bill 1084, which passed in early March, targets “divisive topics” in K-12 schools. 

According to UNG’s College of Education Assistant Dean Lauren Johnson, there currently is no Critical Race Theory within the Georgia Standards in K-12 education.

Georgia capital building Photo by: Mehmet Suat

Johnson said pieces of laws of this nature are effectively hollow and are ineffective in actually solving real problems.

“I think that it is [following an agenda] for the most part, this type of legislation and action by politicians tends to target the teaching of inequality more than it does to actually root out the inequalities in our systems,” she said. “I think this just brushes certain issues further under the rug, not talking about race and racism doesn’t mean that race and racism doesn’t exist.”

Politicians are now capitalizing at a point of division to gain more control over what is being taught in schools, Johnson said.

“The benefit really, and this doesn’t mean it is beneficial for everyone, is more state control within our classrooms,” she said. “For some people, having politicians determine what educators can teach in the classrooms is a benefit.”

The major downsides of the bill fall mostly on teachers more than anyone else.

“What happens then is legislation like this influences educators in the way that educators can potentially become more hesitant to teach what they want to teach and to use materials that are deemed divisive that are not necessarily so,” she said. “Another aspect of this is how the bills are written, the language they use is vague and it’s not concrete.

“Just the language alone of ‘not teaching divisive topics.’ is vague enough that it is open for interpretation and it ends up falling back on the school and teachers.”

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    Ethan PageApr 15, 2022 at 11:14 am

    I didn’t hear of any education reform in Georgia before this, crazy how political its all becoming. Brilliantly written piece.

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National Education Reform Hits Georgia Senate