Senate Ed Committee Holds Hearing on 'Divisive Concepts' Bill
The Senate Education and Youth Committee heard SB 377 by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) which seeks to prohibit school curriculum or mandatory training based on “divisive concepts.” School districts would be required to establish a complaint process to address alleged violations. State funding could be withheld from school districts determined by the State Board of Education (SBOE) to be in violation of the legislation.
CLICK HERE to review PAGE’s summary of SB 377, including a list of the prohibited “divisive concepts” addressed in the legislation and more information about the complaint process.
During committee discussion on SB 377, Democrats on the committee questioned Hatchett regarding multiple components of the bill. Sen. Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta) pressed Hatchett to provide an example of critical race theory being taught in Georgia’s schools. Hatchett referenced a survey sent to Georgia high school students, but he did not provide further details about the survey or other examples of the theory being taught in Georgia schools. He characterized SB 377 as “proactive” legislation. Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) encouraged the committee to table the bill and pursue creation of a study committee.
Throughout his presentation, Hatchett reiterated his intention that the bill would not prevent the teaching of difficult or painful historical concepts. Instead, he said SB 377 is an attempt at preventing educators from telling a group of students they are inherently racist because the students are a member of a specific race or ethnicity.
The meeting ran longer than scheduled and questions from committee members took all available time which prevented public comments. Video footage of the hearing from the state site is available HERE. PAGE and many other meeting attendees signed up to testify regarding the legislation. Committee Chair Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) announced his intention to hold further SB 377 hearings to allow the public to speak. Hatchett reiterated several times throughout the hearing that he welcomes communication from those concerned about the bill. Legislator contact information is available HERE. When contacting legislators, educators should use personal, not school, email accounts, and communicate outside of instructional time. Effective communications connect proposed policy to educators' personal experience with students and engages policymakers in a professional manner.
The committee also heard SB 15 by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia), which would add coursework pertaining to the history of Black people and their contributions to America to the list of required coursework on the founding philosophy and principles of the United States. There was not a vote on the bill.
House Committee Considers School District-County Government Consolidation Bill
Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) presented HR 630 to the General Government Subcommittee of the House Governmental Affairs Committee. If approved, HR 630 would create a joint study committee to examine the consolidation of school district and county governments. Taylor, who authored the bill, reported that county governments and school districts in rural counties with low populations have difficulty providing core services, and consolidation may be a means to address these difficulties. The subcommittee does not vote on bills, and HR 630 can now be considered for a vote by the full Governmental Affairs Committee.
Tuesday, Feb. 8 - Legislative Day 13
Wednesday, Feb. 9 – Committee Work Day
House Education Academic Innovation Subcommittee, 11:30 a.m, 506 CLOB
Senate Education & Youth Committee, 2 p.m., 307 CLOB
House Education Committee, 3 p.m., 341 CAP
Thursday, Feb. 10 – Legislative Day 14
Friday, Feb 11 – Legislative Day 15