GEORGIA – The Georgia Board of Education voted last night to approve a resolution banning classroom discussion about racism and white supremacy. Last month, Governor Brian Kemp sent a letter to the board urging them to take “immediate steps to ensure that Critical Race Theory and its dangerous ideology do not take root in our state standards and curriculum.”
Critical Race Theory, a term historically used by legal scholars to explain the relationship between race and law, has been co-opted by white supremacists as a dog whistle term to refer to classroom lessons about how historical inequities and racism still shape public policy and cultural conditions.
The following statement is by Fund Georgia’s Future, a coalition dedicated to creating a just educational system by procuring fair and full school funding and dismantling historical systems of marginalization:
“Governor Kemp stands directly on a record and legacy of Georgia schools being systematically underfunded, impeding progress toward Georgia’s equitable educational future. More than $10 billion has been cut from K-12 education in the last two decades alone. Georgia currently stands $383 million behind in meeting minimal educational funding. Broad complaints to the State Board condemning an academic movement to better understand the role of white supremacy in legal order serve as a distraction from the real problem facing our schools: a state that is unwilling to provide a high-quality public education. One glaring example is that Governor Kemp is sitting on a $2.7 billion “rainy day” fund while our public schools face yearly cuts.
“If we are to be fully honest about the deepest threats that our education system faces at this moment, it is the deep lack of equitable funding for our schools, with the most disproportionate effects and consequences landing on Black and Brown communities, communities facing impoverishment, and rural communities that are far too often left behind. Inequitably funded schools historically have higher incidents of exclusionary discipline and higher dropout rates than more adequately funded schools. The Georgia K-12 public education system has a long way to go toward providing truly equitable student experiences and outcomes for students — ones that prepare them to thrive in schools, communities, and beyond.
“We know that in order to create equitable learning environments we must aspire to a number of key characteristics for schools — including culturally affirming curriculums, safe and empowering climates, and flexible designs that meet the needs of all learners. It is also well known that without resources that are adequate and distributed equitably, it is nearly impossible to achieve a quality learning experience for every child. Unfortunately, the reality of the public education system is that funding has long been tragically inadequate and inequitable, with the schools serving high-need students often receiving the least opportunities. Instead of working to fund Georgia’s public schools the past few years, state leaders have attempted to erode the entire system by funneling public dollars to private schools.
“Critical Race Theory has become a convenient ideological boogeyman, and opposition to it serves as a distraction from addressing the pressing equity issues directly affecting Georgia’s children and families. The assertions that classroom lessons about race and racism divide students and teach students to see themselves as victims or oppressors are not only false, but also represent a baseless attempt to erase the struggles faced by Black and Brown communities. They ring as an obvious strategy to stir up a radical voting base that has aligned itself with the tenants of white supremacy and remain firm on upholding the nation’s status quo where injustice continues to permeate every facet of life for marginalized populations. Prohibiting discussion of racism and systemic oppression will not make racism and its effects disappear; in fact, these efforts will only serve to exacerbate the inequities that have historically and currently defined Georgia’s system of public education.
“We urge school leaders, teachers, parents, students, and all who are vested in the education Georgia deserves to vigorously resist cheaper efforts to maintain the status quo and press state leadership on fulfilling the promise to all Georgians to equitably and adequately fund our K-12 schools.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Deep Center, Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, the Intercultural Development Research Association, Southern Education Foundation are among the organizations that make up the steering committee of Fund Georgia’s Future. To learn more, follow us at Fund Georgia’s Future on Facebook and @FundGAFuture on Twitter.