COLUMBIA, SC— The Pro-Truth SC Coalition condemns lawmakers in the South Carolina House of Representatives who voted to pass a potentially discriminatory bill today by a vote of 73 - 40. If signed into law, the “South Carolina Transparency and Integrity in Education Act,” H.5183, will harm marginalized students, particularly students of color, undermine school district leaders, may chill free speech in the classroom and deny students access to a high-quality, inclusive education. H 5183 mandates teachers to remain “impartial” when they teach about the “historical oppression of particular groups” and have discussion about “controversial aspects of history,” which could restricts teachers’ ability to condemn historical atrocities like the genocide of Indigenous people, slavery, the Holocaust, and current events like the massacre at Mother Emanuel and Tree of Life Synagogue.
All amendments offered to ensure Black history would be taught were tabled at the urging of Representative Rita Allison, Chair of the House Education & Public Works Committee, directly contradicting prior assurances that she and other committee members want all history to be taught. However, they voted in favor of H. 5183 amendments that adopted language from other anti-truth measures that did not pass out of the committee, making the legislation even more restrictive and harmful – this disregarded 18+ hours of public testimony heard where the vast majority of the public asked legislators to reject these proposals.
“Students deserve the opportunity to learn about the history of racial progress in South Carolina in a way that includes the voices and experiences of marginalized groups,” LaTisha Vaughn, co-founder of the E3 Foundation and the ProTruth SC Coalition. “This bill may stifle future progress to be made in race relations if teachers cannot freely teach and discuss the history that got us here with our students and future leaders.”
South Carolina currently faces a critical teacher shortage of more than 1,100—the greatest it has been in 20 years—and has significant challenges with teacher diversity, especially as it pertains to Black educators. H. 5183 increases the already overwhelming workload for teachers by adding onerous reporting requirements. Amendments proposed that would provide due process protections to teachers in the complaint process were also rejected by lawmakers. The potential for non-meritorious and frivolous complaints could increase teachers’ fear of retaliation. “As Representative Govan stated, we are projecting a shortage of 1,500 teachers next year,” said Steve Nuzum, an SC public school educator. “I know many teachers personally who are considering quitting, or who have already resigned, because of the negative rhetoric encouraged by the hearings for these bills.”
Educator Liz Martinez wanted to teach since she was six years old, but her dreams of an interactive, rigorous, and informed classroom environment have been threatened by this bill. She stated,“These lawmakers would rather erase the truth of the United States than potentially have some students feel a little uncomfortable or ask difficult questions. Learning about atrocities in our nation’s past should make students a little uncomfortable. That means they are developing empathy. In censoring education, we risk creating a generation of ignorant people who know nothing of how and why society exists the way it does today.”
H. 5183 was adopted by the House Education and Public Works Committee on March 29 along racial and partisan lines without transparency and in a manner which excluded Black committee members from the drafting process. Members opposed to the bill were not permitted to offer amendments, and the committee sent it to the House floor with no opportunity for public testimony.
Advocates from the Pro-Truth SC Coalition are available to speak with the media about the legislation and its damaging impact on South Carolina's public education system. Contact Marcus McDonald at email@example.com to schedule an interview.
The Pro-Truth SC Coalition is a South Carolina-based network of advocates and organizations founded by The E3 Foundation, the Lowcountry Black Parents Association, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and the ACLU of South Carolina. The coalition is advocating for teaching the full and accurate history of civil rights, the African American Freedom Struggle, the history of violence against Indigenous people, and ongoing racial and gender discrimination in South Carolina and the United States.
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