Georgia’s majority-white, governor-appointed Board of Education approved a resolution on Thursday that seeks to stop teaching what members call “divisive ideologies” in public schools.
You wouldn’t know by the resolution that most of the meeting was a debate of Critical Race Theory — which focuses on how historical inequities and racism continue to shape American society.
Even though it doesn’t specifically mention Critical Race Theory, it’s the only ideology that the board discussed during the hourlong meeting. And if it wasn’t clear heading into the virtual meeting that the theory was the elephant in the increasingly tense room, Gov. Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods released statements applauding the board’s “opposition to teaching Critical Race Theory in Georgia’s K-12 classrooms.”
The 11-2 vote approving the measure followed a letter from Kemp in May, calling Critical Race Theory “dangerous” and “anti-American.”
The statements from Woods and State Board of Education Chairman Scott Sweeney did not outright mention CRT. Sweeney said during the meeting that the resolution is just a statement and doesn’t put the brakes on anything already being taught in classrooms — for now.
“We want to encourage people to teach the facts,” Sweeney told board members. “Is there racism within the country? Absolutely. Is the entire country racist? I don’t agree with that.”
Specific language in the resolution reads concepts that put “fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilt or anguish to persons solely because of their race or sex” violate students’ individual rights and equal opportunity.
Kenneth Mason, one of only three Black board members, voted against the resolution.
“In order to make a statement of such a complex social construct that affects so many people, we should have a discussion,” Mason argued, noting that he had not seen the resolution prior to the meeting.
Mason said the whole concept only excuses the existence of racism.
“If you believe and have experienced racism in your life, then you should and will be silenced. That is extremely disappointing to me,” Mason said.
Several public comments in a sidebar chat during the virtual meeting said that the board is only “whitewashing” history.
Several Georgia Republicans have also targeted the teaching of the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which reexamines American history through the lens of slavery and its legacy.