On January 26th, the Georgia Senate filed Senate Bill 377 in an effort to remove the teaching of divisive topics from K-12 public schools and universities in Georgia. We, at the Technique, strongly oppose the bill, the larger-scale movement of censorship, and the implications of the movement for a new generation.
First, the actual bill consists of extremely vague language. Terms such as divisive or discomfort allow parents and legislators nearly free reign to dictate the educations of children. Discomfort is nearly impossible to define in an educational context and this language allows any topic that could be potentially deemed uncomfortable to be swept under the rug.
For example, the banning of any sort of divisive topics in the college classroom raises the question of how we can create educated and productive members of society. Courses that cover topics such as city planning or artificial intelligence need to address questions of race if we want to ensure that the work our graduates do does not fall prey to the same prejudices as their predecessors.
It is also important to note that while the bill never explicitly mentions it by name, many have pointed out that the issues that the bill alludes to are very closely tied to Critical Race Theory. Critical Race Theory specifically refers to the study of how racism exists in the legal system and legislation, but in recent times, it has been co-opted to simply refer to any discussion about race.
Many conservatives repeatedly use Critical Race Theory as a buzzword in their campaigns, claiming that they will keep it out of our schools and away from our children. However, Critical Race Theory isn’t taught in public schools in Georgia and any suggestion otherwise is dangerous and misleading. By blurring the lines between these definitions, legislators are allowing the important nuances of topics to fall victim to the vague and misleading wording of the bill.
Second, the bill highlights a larger-scale movement by national, local and state governments to censor history and make it more palatable. This censorship further underscores the necessity of having these conversations, inside and outside the classroom. For many people of color, their race is an inextricable part of how other people and institutions will interact with them for the rest of their lives.
By barring students of color from having these important conversations just because it makes their white peers uncomfortable, the government is robbing these students of the tools of awareness and education they need to navigate a world that’s already against them. Moreover, the ages we have this conversation with children is essential. Working to counteract ideas of racism at a young age is one of the biggest steps that need to be taken to work toward a more educated and more equal society.
Third, the implications of this bill are deeply problematic and serve as a testament to the fact that history is written and rewritten by victors. The main proponents of the bill are white men and women who are scared that any manner of holistic education may redefine their comfortable worldview. Legislators want history to be packed into a narrative that comforts them–one that shifts blame away from anyone because they know if blame was found, it would land close to home.
However, history has happened and any actions to hide that are like a bandage on a bullet wound. As legislators continue to ignore issues of systemic racism and instead work to spread misinformation about it, they are making a choice to create another generation of prejudiced individuals. At the Technique, not only do we strongly denounce the bill, but we encourage our government to do better.
Education is the first step on a bridge towards a better, more equitable future. Today’s students are tomorrow’s doctors, politicians and teachers.
If we allow students to leave our elementary schools, our high schools, and even our universities with the same ideas that allowed these “divisive” events to happen in the first place, how are we any better than those that came before us?