Not content with purging Black voters, Georgia Republicans go after schools, too
Andy Barron / Reno Gazette-Journal via AP

ATLANTA (PAI)—Not content with oppressing Black Americans’ right to vote, the Georgia legislature’s Republicans are going after the state’s public schools, too. And the state’s largest teachers union, the Georgia Association of Educators, is fighting back.

The Republicans’ weapon—as in Florida, Virginia, and elsewhere—is to campaign against “Critical Race Theory” and any other discussions of race that might rile their white supremacist base. It calls them “divisive concepts.”

Not coincidentally, Georgia’s schools are majority students of color, even more than the rest of the U.S., the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics show.

But the cost in Georgia is more than just shutting teachers’ mouths about racism. Any school district that defies the ruling Republicans and teaches comprehensively about race in the U.S. would lose 10% of its state aid.

And Georgia provided 45%—$10.58 billion—of the money the state’s public schools spent in school year 2020-21. Local property taxes provided 46%.

The Republicans have done all this without, of course, even bothering to talk with the state’s teachers, GAE President Lisa Morgan, a primary school teacher from Atlanta, told the city’s National Public Radio station.

“History is replete with instances of, and lessons about, oppression,” Morgan said in a statement when right-wing GOP Gov. Brian Kemp first demanded the state school board ban teaching critical race theory, last June. Kemp’s ban “will not only impact the teaching of America’s complete history, but overall world history,” Morgan added.

“Under this resolution, our teachers’ abilities to apply appropriate instructional decisions for their students will be severely limited. Culturally responsive pedagogy is now being thrown out the window limiting our teachers’ autonomy to teach something other than what has been handed to them.”

Now Kemp’s fellow Republicans have transformed his anti-Critical Race Theory resolution into three pieces of legislation—and the GAE is campaigning against them, including at its “Red for Ed” lobby day at the state capitol building in Atlanta, scheduled for Feb. 24.

But Georgia is just part of a wider right-wing campaign against U.S. public schools. White supremacists frequently invade and disrupt school boards with their anti-CRT demands. They also often either send their kids to non-public schools or “home school” them.

A slight majority (54.2%) of U.S. public school students in Fall 2020, the most recent figures available, were students of color. That fall, Georgia’s schools were 37.5% white, 36.5% Black, and 17% Spanish-speaking. The rest were of other races.

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union and parent union of the GAE, reported in January that University of California at Los Angeles researchers discovered “nearly 900 school districts, enrolling more than 17 million students, or 35% of all K–12 students, have been impacted by local anti-CRT efforts.

The UCLA report, “The Conflict Campaign: Exploring Local Experiences Of The Campaign To Ban ‘Critical Race Theory’ In Public K–12 Education In The U.S.,” says teachers “felt attacked, intimidated, and threatened from legislation, outside organizations, and local critics,” NEA said.

“Additionally, the researchers found these efforts obstruct white students and students of color from learning together about issues of race and diversity.” NEA has developed a comprehensive curriculum guide for teaching racial issues, which its more than three million members can access on its website,

Wrapping themselves in the slogan of “parental control,” the Georgia GOP, led by State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and State Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, would ban any teaching of ideas or concepts that could “offend” the whites who put them into legislative seats.

And banning Critical Race Theory, a college-level discussion concept not taught in public elementary and secondary schools, is only the start. Another is teaching the U.S. is “fundamentally racist.” Their bills carefully don’t use the words “white” or “Black.”

Instead, the measures would also ban teaching that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously, an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex” and that “an individual’s moral character is inherently determined by his or her race or sex” and “by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for an action committed in the past by other individuals of the same race or sex,” among other concepts.

The NEA has struck back against the lawmakers and so-called parents groups by mobilizing its members and parents, too. All this is to counter white supremacists and their GOP handmaidens. The Georgia legislation, by the way, is silent about invading school boards.

But a related measure, also GOP-authored, would make the Gwinnett County School Board, in Atlanta’s populous, and Democratic-leaning, eastern suburbs, non-partisan. The board is now 3-2 Democratic.

“For more than a year now, certain parent groups and legislators nationwide have been showing up to school board meetings and pushing legislation, respectively, to prevent educators from teaching about systemic racism and sexism. Instead, they’re advocating for outdated and inaccurate lessons—and lies—to maintain comfort over truth,” NEA explains.



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.