S.C. Senate eyes legislation to regulate classroom concepts
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A bill that would restrict what can be taught and discussed in South Carolina schools could be on the governor’s desk soon.
It’s called the Transparency and Integrity in Education Act – and right now, it’s under debate in the state Senate.
Republicans are trying to get it passed before the legislative session ends Thursday.
The bill would ban teaching concepts, including the idea that one race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin is inherently superior to another and that people are responsible for other actions committed in the past by members of their same race or sex.
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“This is more of a preventative, proactive approach as opposed to a reactive because I have not heard of that happening in South Carolina,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield.
The bill states it would not ban the fact-based discussion or instruction of controversial aspects of history or current events or about the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, et cetera.
“Teachers are not only free to discuss those things but encouraged to discuss those things,” Massey said.
But Democrats say they’re concerned this could lead to censorship in the classroom and a chilling effect on teachers.
“What I don’t want is for some teacher with what they call facts about history, for parents to come and say, ‘Because of this law that was passed by the South Carolina General Assembly, I’m now challenging you on that,’” said Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland.
The bill would also prohibit students and school staff from being required to participate in mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.
It also extensively outlines a complaint process – if someone believes a school is in violation.
The House of Representatives already passed this bill earlier this year – but senators have stripped two of the more controversial components of it.
One, which would allow anyone to file a lawsuit about anything that goes on in schools – and another that would require teachers post their lesson plans at least three days in advance – which opponents argued would prevent them from teaching current events.
If senators pass this bill, the legislation would return to House members, who would have to decide if they’d agree with the Senate’s changes and send this bill to the governor or want to work out a compromise.
Many of the prohibited concepts are often associated with the controversial concept known as “Critical Race Theory.”
The bill doesn’t explicitly mention this concept – which the South Carolina Department of Education has said is not part of state standards.
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