Last Thursday, by a vote of 11–2, the Georgia Board of Education adopted a resolution that would bar the practice of protest civics (extracurricular political protest and lobbying as required schoolwork), while also preventing Georgia schools from instilling in students the key tenets of critical race theory. This follows passage of a bill by the Texas state legislature the previous week that would bar both protest civics and critical race theory, and the introduction of a similar bill by Ohio state representative Don Jones in late May.
These moves in Georgia, Texas, and Ohio all draw upon the model Partisanship Out of Civics Act (POCA) that I’ve published with the collaboration and endorsement of the National Association of Scholars. What differentiates POCA from other such models is that it takes on both protest civics and critical race theory (CRT). That is important because the various “civics” bills currently being considered in Congress could easily impose leftist indoctrination on the states via protest civics alone. Even if every state in the Union were to bar the core tenets of CRT from K–12, in the absence of a POCA they would nonetheless be vulnerable to federally imposed politicization. Georgia’s move thus signals welcome momentum for the extended protections of the POCA model against federally imposed indoctrination.
Georgia’s move is also the first case in which a board of education, rather than a legislature, has moved against protest civics and CRT. Governor Kemp, to his credit, asked the Board of Education to act, because the Georgia legislature is currently out of session. That is no small matter, since it is entirely possible that one of the dangerous federal bills could pass before the Georgia legislature reconvenes in 2022 and acts to bar protest civics and CRT on its own. A federal grant with strings controlled by bad legislation, combined with Biden’s own pro-CRT priority criteria, could easily force protest civics and CRT on Georgia before its elected representatives have a chance to act. The latest move by the Georgia state Board of Education helps to prevent that, and it’s notable that the Georgia board’s resolution explicitly bars application for federal grants that encourage either protest civics or CRT.
A legislative committee in South Dakota acted recently, issuing a “Letter of Intent” instructing the State Board of Education to refrain from applying for federal grants that would fund either protest civics or CRT until after the legislature has moved to bar those practices in its 2022 session. Georgia and South Dakota are thus pointing the way for other states, most of whose legislatures are now winding down or out of session. Without action by boards of education or legislative committees during formal recess, there is a very real risk that Biden and the Democrats could federalize and politicize America’s schools before the year is out.