Georgia Educators Hold Rally for Education; Speak Out Against New Restrictive Laws
On Saturday, July 23, Georgia educators from across the state came together to hold a Back to School Rally for Education at Piedmont Park in Atlanta and highlight the negative impacts that Gov. Brian Kemp’s new restrictive education laws will have on students, teachers, and schools in the coming school year. Community members marched in solidarity against the restrictive laws and spoke about how they will censor what can be taught in classrooms, ban books, and threaten teachers’ jobs.
“We are still not sure of the full effect of these laws. I feel relatively safer at my school and in my district, that’s not true for all teachers. We can’t keep meeting like this and just reacting. But we must keep fighting back and raising our voices,” stated Adrian Douglas, Educator, Atlanta Public Schools; Atlanta Coalition for Educational Equity.
“…projection and denial, undergird the ‘divisive concepts’ of the white community’s creation. When white folks have been the wizards of ‘divisive concepts’ or should I say segregation. House Bill 1084 has said I can’t teach in 9 ways because it’s too divisive…but for whom? An attempt to trample the flowers of racial repair as they work, once again, to bloom. So as I head into this new school year, I know projection and denial will continue the push to be at the core and progress will be a tussle…but I will teach the truth,” stated Charlie Copp, Educator, Atlanta Public Schools.
“We can’t wait for lawmakers to give us permission to teach the truth. We must find alternative ways to ‘Teach the Truth’ about slavery, racism, sexism, and oppression throughout the U.S.. We can not allow them to silence us. If they won’t allow us to ‘teach the truth’ inside the public school system, then we must begin teaching the truth in parks, in churches, and community centers…It is an injustice to lie to our students by omitting the Truth. And as an educator, I made an oath to teach to the best of my ability and to keep it real with my students and parents. And I will not allow politicians to take away my freedom to teach the truth,” stated Mokah Jasmine Johnson, Educator, Clarke County; Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement.
“Let’s be clear: teachers have been under attack for years. They are targeted by social media policies, evaluations, performance-based systems of accountability, the certification process, overprotective parents, out-of-touch administrators, and many more policies and practices. We are here to stand in solidarity with our educators…Policymakers and school leaders: Do not enforce restrictive education laws. Support equity in all areas of education. Pass resolutions that protect educators and students. And to Governor Kemp: you ain’t gotta do anything else because you’re about to lose your job!” stated Anthony Downer, Educator, Atlanta Public Schools; Vice President, Georgia Educators for Equity and Justice.
Background: The restrictive education bills Gov. Kemp pushed during Georgia’s legislative session and then signed into law, were “designed to rev up GOP voters” — they serve no purpose to advance the education of students:
- HB 1084, will prevent students from learning the complete, accurate history of our nation. It restricts what educators are able to speak about in the classroom and threatens their jobs. The new law is so broad and ambiguous that many educators don’t know what’s permissible under it and are on edge about possible repercussions.
- SB 226 makes it easier for books to be banned from school libraries — furthering the censorship pushes within our schools from politicians under the Gold Dome. Books by Black authors have been banned in other states under similar laws.