ATLANTA — The Georgia Professional Standards Commission voted unanimously to remove words like “diversity”, “equity” and “inclusion” from teacher training rules Thursday.
Starting July 1, teacher training programs are no longer required to discuss the words when preparing educators for the classroom.
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Teachers and civil rights advocates present for the vote called the commissioners “shameful.”
“They know what they’re doing. Education is an institution that can either destroy or nurture future generations, but they don’t want strong generations. They want disempowered generations in pain under this white supremacist violence,” said Jonathan Peraza-Campos with the Intercultural Development Research Association.
The words come into play when school districts provide continuing education programs for teachers or when future educators are going through college.
The commission that sets the standards for teacher training programs is made up of 18 people from the private and education sectors appointed by the governor.
Since 2016, the rules required those training teachers to use these words that involve diversity, equity and inclusion.
This year, Commission Chair Brian Sirmans said the University System of Georgia asked the commission to remove the words, arguing they have taken on multiple meanings over recent years.
“We were told that these terms were leading to difficulty in interpreting program standards,” said Sirmans.
In April, the commission proposed a plan to replace those terms with words like “differences” and “welcoming to all”.
“We replaced them with commonly understood terms,” said Sirmans.
Thursday, the public was invited to comment before the final vote on the proposal.
“What is so wrong with stating the word equity, and what is so much better about the word fair?” Ogechi Oparah asked commissioners before the vote.
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Oparah was one of nearly 20 teachers, parents, attorneys and civil rights advocates who packed a small room in downtown Atlanta to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Without delay, the commission voted unanimously to put its own proposal in place.
No members gave a reason why.
Attorneys say they are digging deeper to see if this change violates federal anti-discrimination laws.
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