June 9, 2021
The statewide coalition, Fund Georgia’s Future, is challenging Governor Brian Kemp to meet his stated goal of providing the state’s students with “the highest quality education” by ensuring adequate and equitable funding for their public schools, instead of by attacking Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is the academic practice of examining the role of race and racism in our public systems, laws and policies and the ways in which racial inequality is perpetuated by these structures.
As noted in a recently released Fund Georgia’s Future press release: “Critical Race Theory has become a convenient ideological boogeyman, and opposition to it serves as a distraction from addressing the pressing equity issues directly affecting Georgia’s children and families.”
Like several governors and legislators around the country, Governor Kemp has latched onto a recent addition to the culture wars: legislation, resolutions or statements in favor of banning CRT in K-12 classrooms as a “dangerous ideology” intended to “promote a blatantly partisan agenda.”
But as Fund Georgia’s Future notes, not only are these “bans” misguided about CRT and designed to block important and necessary discussions of systemic racism and equity in public school classrooms, they are often smokescreens to hide the real issues facing the nation’s public schools, with the No. 1 concern being funding.
“Governor Kemp can meet his own goal of a high quality education for every child in Georgia by fully funding our schools,” said Coco Papy, Director of Development and Communications at Deep Center, a Savannah non-profit that uses art to empower local young people. “It takes resources to meet the needs of all learners in all communities, and that is especially true in often under-resourced Black and Brown communities.”
Education Law Center analyses have found that Georgia lacks a stable, qualified teaching staff in many districts, often the same districts that are the most in need of an increase in state aid.
In Georgia, after a $950 million cut to the FY21 education budget, the approved FY22 state budget will restore only about 60% of the cuts for the upcoming school year. That means that FY22 state aid will still be $400 million behind FY20 state aid levels, in a state with an already deeply inadequate funding formula. On the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, schools were finally receiving full funding through the state’s funding formula after years of austerity cuts, but even full funding of the formula is not adequate to serve Georgia’s students.
“Unfortunately, Governor Kemp is not alone among state politicians in launching an irresponsible campaign against Critical Race Theory to divert attention from the failure to adequately fund schools,” said Jennifer Doeren, Director of the Partnership for Education Equity and Rights or PEER. “We intend to fight against this trumped up controversy while continuing to work with our partners to ensure public schools in every community and state are fully and fairly funded.”
Fund Georgia’s Future is a statewide coalition of civil rights and education advocacy organizations fighting for fair and full funding of Georgia’s public schools. The coalition includes Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Deep Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, Georgia Appleseed, the Intercultural Development Research Association, Southern Education Foundation, and Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.
Fund Georgia’s Future is part of the Partnership for Equity and Education Rights (PEER), a multi-state network convened by Education Law Center. PEER works to improve investments in public education and advocate for equal educational opportunity for marginalized children and young people.
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