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Decatur Schools, community organizations react to recent State School Board decision

Decatur Metro ATL

Decatur Schools, community organizations react to recent State School Board decision

Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights Co-chair Mawuli Davis and City Schools of Decatur Black Parent Alliance Chair Carmen Sulton brought their groups together for a press conference outside the district’s central office on Friday, April 16, to call for more transparency from the school district in the wake of Superintendent David Dude being placed on administrative leave amid an investigation. Photo by Zoe Seiler.
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Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur, the CSD Black Parents Alliance and the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights are criticizing the resolution the State Board of Education passed on Thursday, June 3, that supports a ban on teaching students about racism.

The resolution seems to target “critical race theory,” and it is in response to a letter signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

The resolution states that the State Board of Education “affirms that we will not support, or impart, any K-12 public education resources or standards which (i) indoctrinate students in social, or political, ideology or theory, or (ii) promote one race or sex about another.”

It also states that the Board of Education believes that no state education agency, school district, or school shall teach, instruct or train employees to adopt or believe several concepts, including “(a) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; (b) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; (c) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race; (d) members of one race cannot or should not attempt to treat others without respect to race…”

To read the full resolution, click here.

The City Schools of Decatur remains committed to addressing the origins and presence of race and racism, and to exercising local control of curriculum and professional learning to meet those ends, the district leadership said in a statement.

“The State Board of Education’s misguided and ill-informed June 3 resolution undermines local control and harms all children,” the statement says.

While the State Board of Education’s resolution is a set of belief statements, it would have a chilling effect on Georgia’s local educational agency and its ability to initiate and sustain the difficult work of addressing racial equity in their community, the statement reads.

“We are saddened that the body charged with setting educational standards would so thoroughly undermine educators’ ability to advance educational outcomes for all students,” CSD leadership said in the statement. “Additionally, this resolution would fuel the efforts of malicious actors who more overtly create disingenuous barriers to and distractions from addressing racial equity. Considering how egregiously disparate Georgia students’ educational outcomes are along racial lines, this resolution would unconscionably stultify school districts’ ability to innovatively address learning gaps.”

In order to address racial disparities, the school district and educators have to be able to talk about them, especially when conversations may be uncomfortable.

“This resolution would harm all students by misrepresenting history and seeking to deny them the space and tools to critically examine our country’s past and present actions that have marginalized people of color,” CSD leadership said.

The resolution would drive the school districts toward silence or lower the volume of conversations, but CSD will not remain silent, according to the statement.

“We are committed to our efforts. We are responsible for nurturing anti-racist learning environments where each and every child is respected and valued for who they are regardless of skin color, gender, sexual identity or orientation, ability or disability, or any other marginalized category,” the statement says. “We will not accept educational environments where students are subject to conditions in which their identity makes them a target of abuse. Nor will we accept a resolution that treads dangerously close to limiting our staff’s and students’ First Amendment right to free speech.”

The statement from CSD was signed by Superintendent Maggie Fehrman, her cabinet, school principals, the CSD Board of Education and the Decatur Education Foundation.

To read the full statement, click here.

Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights Co-chairs Mawuli Davis and Fonta High and CSD Black Parent Alliance Chair Carmen Sulton criticized the action as well. In a joint statement, they said that race, racism, white supremacy and all of its manifestations must be discussed.

“The [Georgia] State Board of Education’s set of assumptive, misleading statements thinly veiled as a last-minute, dead-of-night ‘resolution,’ seems intended to erase the hundreds of years of systemic racism that this country has been built upon,” the statement says. “The Board is attempting to avoid facing the issue of race and racism in Georgia and America. They hope to hide the complicated truth of our country in a miasma of patriotic noise in the hope to drown out the voices of the millions of people of color disenfranchised by White supremacy culture in the U.S.”

Beacon Hill will not accept educational environments where students are subject to conditions in which their identity and history has been erased, the statement says.

“Our organization is committed to engaging in policy and practice changes that stand against all forms of racism at interpersonal, internalized, organizational, and systemic levels,” the statement says. “Georgia’s students deserve an identical commitment from their State Board of Education.  We ask for the support of the entire Decatur Community to combat this attack on our collective efforts to move forward in equity and justice.”

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