MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama lawmakers will again be debating whether to ban “divisive concepts” in the classroom this session.
A new version of the bill has been prefiled, sponsored by Rep. Ed Oliver and co-sponsored by 21 other Republican House lawmakers — including Rep. Debbie Wood.
“We need this so that we can foster a great place for our children to go to school and get their education and that they’re not being taught the things that we feel very uncomfortable for them to hear,” Wood (R – Valley) said.
Among the concepts banned by the bill include the idea that “any individual should be asked to accept, acknowledge, affirm, or assent to a sense of guilt … solely on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.”
Wood says she wouldn’t want her granddaughter to be exposed to something like that in school.
“I don’t want her being taught something that makes her feel inferior or being taught something that makes her feel like there’s a reason for her to feel different than the student that’s sitting next to her,” Wood said.
While the State Board of Education has passed policy prohibiting teaching those types of concepts, Wood says the Board can change, and lawmakers want something more permanent on the books.
But Rep. Chris England says the bill tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
“It’s a really bad piece of legislation, and I quite honestly would like to leave the educating to the educators,” England (D- Tuscaloosa) said.
England says it could lead to teachers avoiding important topics out of fear they could be fired. He thinks ultimately it will limit learning and free speech in the classroom.
“This has a chilling effect on any sort of growth, any sort of teaching, any sort of methodology that leads to growth in intellect for our children,” England said.
The bill allows state agencies, boards of education and colleges to “discipline or terminate” employees who would violate it.
Last year, a version of this bill passed in the House but did not get a vote in the Senate.