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House discusses bills that could change what is taught in South Carolina Schools

The 5 bills would restrict what teachers can say and teach in their classrooms

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Five bills that could change what is taught in South Carolina went in front of the House Education Committee on Wednesday.

House Bills 4392, 4343, 4325, 4605 and 4779 all have language that would restrict what teachers can say and teach in their classrooms. 

The bills would restrict teachers from talking about current events, sexual orientation, gender, and political activism. 

Another would require teachers to post curriculums before the school year starts. 

Two of the bills would ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT), something the Department of Education has said is not taught in South Carolina Schools. 

“The department of education has no current or proposed academic standards that include CRT concepts,” said Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman.

30 people signed up for public testimony at Wednesday's meeting to give feedback to lawmakers.

Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman took the podium first and cautioned lawmakers on the long term impact these bills could have. 

"This is a dangerous path we may be going down. And we've got to be very careful," said Spearman. 

She said she does approve "permanent legislation" regarding the issue and encouraged the lawmakers to work with her and her department to get it done. 

Spearman said the legislation must “have clear direction and empower the agency charged with ensuring compliance to hold those who don’t comply accountable.”

While Spearman agrees with having uniform requirements of what teachers are allowed to say, she doesn't approve bills that keep students from learning the history of the United States. 

“Omitting this history, because it's uncomfortable?," said Spearman. "That’s not the American way."

Many teachers groups and civil rights groups oppose the bills. They said the bills are "anti-truth" and worry they will drive more educators out the door at a time when many schools are understaffed. 

“A quality education must include an accurate and honest accounting of history to provide students with the skills and tools to become critical thinkers,” said Zahra Mion from the NAACP. 

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Among the supporters of the bills are parents who say they want opinions and politics to stay out of their children's classroom. 

"The past is egregious. We need to teach every aspect and facet of it, but we don’t need to be punishing the children," said Courtney O'hara from Moms For Liberty SC

Governor McMaster has said in the past he supports banning critical race theory. 

These bills are in early stages and will undergo several more discussions before moving to the house for approval.

On Wednesday the Senate approved a bill that would require elementary school and special education teachers to take a 30 minute break every day. 

RELATED: Picture ID, early voting bill advances in South Carolina

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