Teachers And Students Say No To Classroom Censorship Bills

Teachers, parents, and students (K through 8th grade) came to the Georgia State Capitol to tell lawmakers they can handle the truth about racial history. They don’t need bills to censor racial history under the lame excuse of protecting white children from feeling bad by learning the truth about slavery, and racial history in the United States.

Young students stood quietly in the capitol rotunda holding signs – “Racism is Real, I Can Handle the Truth. Why Can’t the Adults?”  “Teach Real History”  and “Teach the Truth” – for lawmakers to read as they walked by. 

A few lawmakers (probably Democrats who don’t support these bills) gave the thumbs-up sign to the young students while other lawmakers ignored the students.

“I’m up in arms about HB 1084 and SB 377 and the divisive concepts listed in both of those bills that will prevent teachers from talking about race and racism in the classroom,” Amelia Copp, a teacher, told the Streets “Many teachers are upset about these bills but don’t have the time to call or email.”

To help teachers get involved, Copp found a “Teach Truth Pledge” petition that over eight thousand teachers signed.  So she created a petition like that and called people to inform them about these repressive bills, and how they impact classrooms in negative ways. 

 She collected 1,232 signatures on the “Teach Truth”  petition and came to the capitol to hand-deliver them to the Speaker of the House, David Ralston, and other lawmakers.  Copp sent the petition to over 80 representatives and senators electronically. 

THE TEACH TRUTH PETITION READS

As educators, students, and community members, we strongly oppose SB 375 (Divisive Concepts), SB 377 (Divisive Concepts), HB 888 (Teaching About Race), and HB 1084 (Divisive Concepts). 

These bills are aimed at severely limiting, if not eliminating, the teaching of accurate history. These bills are a tremendous circumvention of local control and educational independence. They aim to replace American history with the mythology of America that erases the harms of slavery and racism in this country. They are also looking to limit teachings around civic engagement. 

Using these laws to prevent talking about racism is anathema to free speech – a right that all Americans hold dear.

We urge you to take action to ensure that these dangerous bills do not become law and that Georgia’s students and teachers remain free to express their ideas and experiences – all of them – in Georgia’s classrooms.

SUMMARY OF BILLS BY THE GEORGIA COALITION AGAINST CLASSROOM CENSORSHIP

 Georgia’s four-classroom censorship bills (HB 888, HB 1084, SB 375, and SB 377), claim to promote and protect intellectual freedom. But they do the opposite by silencing educators, mandating the adoption of inaccurate concepts and points of view, prohibiting truthful classroom conversations, and punishing those schools that allow students and educators to engage critically with the impact of systemic racism and marginalization in this country.  Additionally, the bills threaten much-needed school resources and allow for up to a 20% state funding penalty for schools that are believed to have violated provisions of the bill. 

HB 888 codifies legislative findings that deny the existence of systemic racism.

HB 1084, SB 375, and SB 377 establish a set of prohibited or divisive concepts that may not be discussed in schools. Prevents education agencies, school boards, administrators, and teachers from discussing race, systemic racism, and gender scapegoating. 

The link below is an analysis of these bills. 

HB 888, HB 1084, SB 375 & SB 377 Seek to Censor Classroom Conversations and Strip Funding from Georgia Students

“These bills are set up to whitewash history. We know racism is real in the past and is real in the present. And having honest conversations about those things is vitally important. Opportunities to have honest dialogue and free speech are important for actually helping people know each other better and to bring people closer together,” Charlie Copp, a high school educator, told the Street of Atlanta.

Will teachers be fired if they teach racial history truthfully? This reporter asked Mr. Copp.

“These bills can be so ambiguous that you’re not sure what will happen. There needs to be greater clarity. They are trying to push scare tactics and create fear,” Copp said. 

THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST STUDENT PROTEST AND WILL NOT BE THE LAST

Last month hundreds of students from Fulton and DeKalb Counties protested these bills at the state capitol. Similar bills are being pushed through every Republican-controlled statehouse in the country.

Their excuse for these unconstitutional racist bills to censor classroom education is to protect white children from learning the brutal history of slavery, racism, and structural racism that still exists today in the United States. 

This latest Republican con is more about throwing red meat to Trump supporters to get their support in November than about protecting white children from the truth.

Republicans that know better don’t have the moral courage to tell Trump supporters that Trump lied about the 2020 election and that Biden won in a fair election.

Repeating Trump’s lies have led Republicans to tell more lies which has led to voter suppression bills, censorship bills, anti-protest bills, and more and more repressive bills to appease one-third of the Republican party that has been fed a steady stream of lies and now lives in an alternate world of delusional fears, and hate. 

Republicans continue to feed this monster they created with more lies and oppressive bills to return the county to the “good old days” of patriarchal white supremacy. The lies and racist bills need to stop because this will not end well for anyone.

Written and photos by Gloria Tatum

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