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DeKalb County School Board members criticize controversial education bills

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DeKalb County School Board members criticize controversial education bills

FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: DeKalb County School District Bus. Photo by Dean Hesse.

By Sara Amis, contributor 

DeKalb County, GA — Bills being considered by the state Legislature would address “divisive” concepts in education and promote “parental rights,” but the DeKalb County School board questions the need for such legislation.

Dan Baskerville of Denton’s law firm presented a legislative update to the Board of Education at their regular meeting, Feb. 14. In addition to discussing the status of redistricting legislation, Baskerville identified several items of interest to the board under consideration in the Georgia state legislature.

A plan would restore $382 million in Quality Basic Education austerity cuts and $5.5 million in cuts to other programs for the Fiscal Year 2021 and 2022 budgets. Bills related to mental health and counseling needs and to paths to technology careers for students also being considered.

There are controversial pieces of legislation under consideration, however.

– “Divisive concepts” legislation HB 1084, SB 375, and SB 449 which ban teaching certain ideas about race

– “Parental rights” bills HB 1158, HB 1178, SB 449 which add complaint and review processes

– Bills for restrictions on school material SB 226 and HB 1217 which add additional layers of constraints on curricula and materials used by school districts

“The theme I see in all this is really an incursion on local control and local school districts,” said Board member Marshall Orson. “Without getting into the weeds of the particulars of each bill and the culture wars that go along with it, I think this goes against a fundamental principle of how we have set up public education.”

Board member Dr. Joyce Morley criticized the legislation as a transparent attempt to shape a political narrative ahead of the 2022 elections.

“There’s no [critical race theory] being taught in any schools. I’m not willing to participate in speaking about it because it doesn’t exist,” said Morley. “Why are there bills coming about to prevent something that has never taken place? It’s political.”

For more information about the Feb. 14 School Board meeting, click here.

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