ATLANTA – One education bill introduced into the General Assembly on behalf of Gov. Brian Kemp gained final passage in the General Assembly Friday while another cleared the Georgia Senate.
The Senate’s Republican majority passed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” 31-22 along party lines and sent it to Kemp’s desk for his signature. The state House of Representatives – in another party-line vote – had passed the bill early last month.
The measure gives parents the right to review curriculum and other instructional material for their children’s classes during the first two weeks of every nine-week grading period.
Principals or superintendents who receive a request for information from a parent will have three business days to provide it. If the principal or superintendent is unable to share the information within that timeframe, they must provide the parent a written description of the material and a timeline for its delivery, not to exceed 30 days.
Parents who disagree with a local school’s decision on a request can appeal to the school district and, beyond that, to the state Board of Education.
Parents also will have the choice of opting their children out of sex education instruction and can prohibit photos or videos of their children unless necessary for public safety.
The second bill – the so-called “divisive concepts” legislation – also passed the Senate 32-21 Friday along party lines. Because of changes the Senate made to the measure, which originated in the House, it must return to that chamber to win final passage.
The legislation lists nine concepts Georgia teachers could not teach their students, including that the United States and Georgia are systematically racist and that no race is inherently superior or inferior to any other.
“We can teach U.S. history – the good, the bad and the ugly – without dividing along racial lines,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, R-Gainesville. “We must teach that America is good – not perfect – but good.”
Legislative Democrats, who have opposed both bills throughout the weeks they have moved through the General Assembly, didn’t speak out against them on Friday.
But the Democratic Party of Georgia released a statement characterizing Kemp’s education agenda as “an attack” on students and teachers in Georgia.
“Brian Kemp’s plan is to ban kids from learning a complete and accurate history of our country,” Democratic spokesman Max Flugrath said Friday. “The decisions about what our kids learn in school should be decided by teachers and parents — not by politicians like Brian Kemp.”