House Passes Divisive Concepts Prohibition & Parents' Bill of Rights
After long debate and impassioned speeches for and against the bills, the House passed HB 1084, prohibiting teaching of "Divisive Concepts" in Georgia public schools, and HB 1178, the Parents' Bill of Rights. Both bills were approved largely down party lines and now move to the Senate.
HB 1084 is sponsored by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) and prohibits teachers and other school district personnel from acting upon, promoting, or encouraging divisive concepts in curriculum, instruction, or mandatory training. It sets up a complaint process for alleged violation of the prohibition and allows for the suspension of school districts' flexibility waivers.
The Parents' Bill of Rights, sponsored on behalf of Gov. Kemp by Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville), seeks to codify parents rights to:
Direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of their children
Review instructional materials intended for use in the classroom
Apply to public school or, as an alternative to public education, a private school, including a religious school, a home study program, or other available options, as authorized by law and subject to applicable enrollment requirements
Access and review all records relating to his or her minor child (with some legal exceptions)
Access information relating to promotion, retention policies, and graduation requirements
Opt-out of some recordings of their children
Opt-out of sex education courses
Contact Senators -- 2021 Bill Doubling Tuition Tax Credit Voucher Still in Play
PAGE sent an action alert yesterday regarding the Senate's consideration of HB 517, which aims to double funding over the next five years for the state’s largest private school voucher program to $200 million. The Senate did not call a vote on HB 517 today, but it can be brought up for a vote without notice at any point for the remainder of the legislative session. Educators should continue to reach out to senators to encourage a "No" vote on HB 517.
Find your senator's contact information HERE. Tips for advocating on education issues are available HERE. Always send emails outside of instructional hours from your personal (not school) email address.
COVID-19 Employee Vaccine Passport Prohibition Passes Senate
The Senate passed SB 345, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R- Chickamauga), which prohibits public employers, including school districts, from requiring that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill now moves to the House.
Teacher Evaluation & Certification Bills Pass House Education Committee
The House Education Committee approved two bills, both of which move forward to the House Rules Committee:
HB 1295, by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park), removes “needs improvement” as an evaluation rating that could lead to a teacher losing certification if he or she receives the rating two times within a five-year period. The bill originally contained an alternative evaluation system pilot program, but this language was removed. PAGE testified in support of the bill during a previous subcommittee hearing.
HB 1357, by Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen), would require the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) to consider any out-of-state teacher certification program that meets the requirements of the GaPSC. Currently, out-of-state or for-profit certification providers are prohibited. Smith said several times that the bill would help address the state teacher shortage.
The committee considered, but did not vote on the following bills:
HB 1005, by Rep. Meisha Mainor (D-Atlanta), would require school districts to conduct suicide screenings on all students aged 8 through 18.
HB 1184, by Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway), would require the administration of a nationally recognized college entrance exam to public school students in grade 11 who choose to participate. Williams said the program would cost approximately $5 million a year. The bill requires students to opt-out, should they not wish to participate. Rep. Chris Erwin (R-Homer) suggested the bill be amended to include an opt-in provision, similar to legislation passed by the Senate Education and Youth Committee earlier this week.
HB 1283, by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge), would require recess for all students in grades one through five on days they do not have structured activities or physical education classes. A version of this bill that passed in a previous legislative session was vetoed by Gov. Brian Kemp.