State superintendent cautions lawmakers as they consider controversial education bills

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The head of education warned lawmakers on Wednesday that they could go the “dangerous way” by passing bills that are under consideration.

These laws restrict what can and cannot be taught and discussed in South Carolina schools.

Lawmakers listened to public testimony for five hours on Wednesday during a meeting of the House of Representatives’ committee on education and public works on five bills – H.4325, H.4343, H.4392, H.4605 and H.4799 – covering a ban on critical race. from teaching theory in schools, to banning discussions on gender issues, to banning teachers from giving lessons that can inconvenience students.

The latest ban on awkward “non-American” lessons, said South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman. Spearman recalled her own experience in communist China, where she said she found that the government had removed all information about the protests and massacres in Tiananmen Square from the Internet.

“Some events in the history of our state, country and the world make both students and teachers feel uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be taught and students shouldn’t be able to discuss it, share their thoughts and feelings with their peers. This is a dangerous path we can take. We have to be very, very careful, ”Spearman said, calling the slave trade, the Holocaust and the Orangeburg massacre necessary history lessons for South Carolina students to be taught, despite the discomfort they may bring to the classroom and what may be prohibited. under these bills.

The Superintendent reiterated her position that she believes that critical theory of race has no place in South Carolina classes, but that after a careful review of the state’s academic standards the Department of Education found that it is not part of them.

Spearman distinguished between the standards that schools are required to teach and the curriculum that she said teachers and schools need to have the freedom to create and decide what is discussed in their classes as well-trained professionals.

“There is so much learning in a dynamic classroom that students make it much easier to learn,” she said, adding that some teachers complain that the broad nature of the standards required by the state leaves them too little room for other lessons.

Spearman said parents should know what is taught in their children’s schools – some bills require schools to provide an online mechanism through which people can send feedback on curricula and teaching materials – and teachers should be given clear clarity on these subjects .

But Spearman said the direction should not come from politicians trying to reassure voters in an election year that appears to all members of the House of Representatives.

“Now teachers are scared to death,” she said. “They’re worried they’ll say something wrong and get in trouble.”

About 30 other people signed up to testify on Wednesday, talking to lawmakers within hours of completing the head’s comments.

Members of the Mothers for Freedom group called for the bills, saying they would like lawmakers to go further and demand that there be cameras in every classroom, as they believe more and more teachers are introducing their personal opinions to lessons, not just educational facts.

Another speaker from the NAACP Foundation for Legal Protection and Education spoke out against the bills, saying lawmakers need to focus more on addressing issues such as worsening teacher shortages in the state.

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