HB 888: Stopping State-Sanctioned Racial Discrimination & Increasing Transparency in Classrooms
Introduced by Georgia Representative Brad Thomas, HB 888 protects students and teachers from racial discrimination and compelled belief in racial essentialism doctrines or practices, including trainings and seminars that promote them.
This bill also provides transparency by giving all members of the public access to a list of school curriculum materials used in the classroom including books, articles, recordings, and webpages – an important step to providing families and the public with greater insight and influence over what is taught in their schools.
Soon after Rep. Thomas’ bill was introduced, the Left began circulating myths and inaccuracies about HB 888 and critical race theory (CRT) in the state of Georgia. Here are the facts:
MYTH 1: “CRT is not taught in Georgia K-12 schools.”
Critical race theory (CRT) began as an academic theory claiming that America is systemically racist and must be dismantled, and is now a worldview that is being applied in practice via activism and calls for moral, economic, and political revolution to fundamentally transform American society.
CRT proponent Kimberlé Crenshaw defines CRT “not as a noun, but a verb. It cannot be confined to a static and narrow definition but is an evolving and malleable practice.” CRT does not always manifest as a curriculum, but rather should be thought of as a lens through which any curriculum can be taught.
CRT has infiltrated school systems across the country with the goal to re-shape K-12 education, teaching children that everything must be viewed through the lens of race. Most egregiously, administrations have set policy and training procedures according to CRT’s premises and values, leading to overt racial discrimination. To learn more about what CRT is, review Heritage Action’s “CRT: Terms to Know” document.
Below are a few of the numerous examples of the application and influence of CRT in Georgia’s K-12 schools:
An Atlanta Public School segregated classrooms on the basis of race.
DeKalb County Schools celebrated a Black Lives Matter Week of Action in 2020. Students in grades three to five were forced to “describe aspects of their identities such as race, gender, ability, religion, and more,” and reflect on having those characteristics. Students in grades six to 12 were forced to reflect on the ways they have experienced or participated in bias based on appearance.
A Cobb County school counselor wrote in the AJC that removing CRT from Georgia schools would force school counselors to violate their ethical standards and lose their certification with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), which requires them to “engage in anti-racist actions” and “dismantle systems of oppression.” She later resigned in protest after the Cobb County School Board passed a resolution to ban critical race theory in their classrooms.
Clayton County School District’s Equity Policy promotes “restorative justice,” acknowledges “intersecting oppression” caused by certain characteristics, seeks to interrupt “institutional bias” via professional learning and staff recruitment processes, and requires distributing resources based in part on race — all hallmarks of critical race theory.
MYTH 2: “This bill would prohibit critical thinking and the discussion of slavery or other difficult topics about history.”
As former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice stated, “We teach the good and we teach the bad of history. But what we don’t do is make 7- and 10-year-olds feel that they are somehow bad people because of the color of their skin. We've been through that, and we don't need to do that again for anyone." Those are the values this bill defends.
HB 888 specifically provides in Section 2(l)(1)(B) that nothing in the bill should be construed to prohibit the impartial presentation of the research-based history of a particular race or ethnic group, controversial aspects of history, and the historical treatment of a particular group of people.
MYTH 3: “This bill would violate teachers’ or students’ First Amendment right to free speech.”
This bill defends free speech. HB 888 prohibits public school employees from forcing students to violate their First Amendment rights by compelling them to affirm tenets of critical race theory.
Schools are an important environment for the exchange of ideas. Students are free to engage in discussion as long as they abide by school codes of conduct. This bill ensures students remain free to think and free to learn.
When a teacher is acting in their official capacity, they teach on behalf of the state of Georgia, and it is unconstitutional for government employees to force private citizens, especially children, to hold beliefs that would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
MYTH 4: “This is a bill to defund the public education system.”
HB 888 does not defund public schools; it simply requires compliance with federal and state civil rights law and ensures state funding is not used to violate students’ civil rights. In the event that a school has violated the law, the school will receive full funding once the school has demonstrated compliance to the State Board of Education.
MYTH 5: “This bill would restrict local control over schools.”
State and local governments are vital partners for parents and are an important feature of our public education system. Local school boards and superintendents set and enforce policies and raise revenue to fund a portion of their districts’ budgets.
While districts have discretion in determining how their schools operate, there are certain basic standards set by the legislature that all schools in Georgia are required to meet. Complying with state and federal civil rights law is one of them. HB 888 simply prohibits racial discrimination and compelled belief in racially essentialist doctrines or practices that would violate civil rights law.
MYTH 6: “Classroom materials are subject to copyright laws and cannot be made publicly available.”
Parents have the right to know and help direct what their children are being taught and transparency is a common sense tool to give them the ability to oversee their child’s education.
HB 888 requires that a list of the titles and authors or creators of materials used in the classroom be published online, not the materials themselves. Parents would be able to review the actual material in full at the school, which would not violate copyright restrictions.