ATLANTA — The education landscape in Georgia will change dramatically on Friday when several bills passed during this year’s legislative session go into effect.
Here is a breakdown of some of these new laws:
Teaching Dividing Concepts
House Bill 1084 is intended to prevent teaching generalizations, such as saying that a race is inherently superior, that moral character is determined by race, or that America is fundamentally racist. The bill’s sponsors said it would not prevent America’s troubled past from being taught, but many parents and teachers disagreed. School boards have until August 1 to adopt a policy outlining their process for dealing with alleged violations. The state Board of Education has already met a Friday deadline to draft a model policy.
Transgender girls in sport
Republican lawmakers added a gender and sports amendment to Bill 1084. The bill creates a school athletics oversight committee and allows athletic associations to decide whether to host transgender athletes . The executive committee of the Georgia High School Association, the state’s dominant school athletic authority, voted unanimously in May to ban transgender athletes from competing because of their gender identity.
Need-based help for students
Georgia has been criticized for not having a strong program to help low-income students pay their tuition. HB 1435 provides financial aid of up to $2,500 to undergraduate students in Georgia who are about to graduate but are struggling to pay for their education.
Free Speech Zones on College Campuses
Lawmakers passed HB 1, which would prevent “free speech zones” on public college and university campuses. Instead, the bill allows students and lecturers to congregate in any outdoor space on campus. Some students argued during a hearing on the bill that the changes could make it easier for extremist groups to speak out on campus.
Financing of private schools
House Bill 517 increases the size of a program that allows taxpayers to contribute to private scholarships while recovering that contribution as a credit on their state taxes owed. The scholarship program will grow to $120 million. It is currently capped at $100 million. Some provisions come into effect on Friday, with the expansion beginning on January 1.
Obscenity and Parental Monitoring of Schools
Senate Bill 226 expedites the process of removing books and other content that some find obscene by putting the decision in the hands of directors. Parent-initiated book challenges have typically been handled by school boards made up of school librarians, teachers, and parents. The new law gives the State Board of Education until September 1 to draft a model policy. Local school boards have until January 1 to adopt a complaints resolution policy.