Superintendent Mike Hickman speaks at a protest against the Reporter. (Photo/Don Daniel)

Monroe County school superintendent Mike Hickman told school board members on Tuesday he doesn’t necessarily jeehaw with a statement promoting Critical Race Theory (CRT) from a school leadership group the schools have paid for training. Several school board members warned against the ideology but after a 30-minute debate, the board didn’t have a majority to take any stands against CRT.

Board member Eva Bilderback put the issue on the agenda after a 2018 “equity commitment” from the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI) was reported upon in this newspaper.

Monroe County schools spent $27,500 with GLISI in 2019-20 to train future leaders. The GLISI commitment declared that “anti-racism” was the No. 1 problem in all schools and that it would “confront” and “dismantle” systems that perpetuated such racism.

Hickman said he had never seen the GLISI equity commitment until board member Stuart Pippin showed it to him. He said he was surprised at some of the things in it. He said he shared his concerns with the executive director of GLISI on Tuesday before the BOE meeting.

Bilderback said the school system should be about educating kids and not divisive racial and political theories.

“We’re supposed to be about education, and not anything else,” said Bilderback. “Children don’t see all this stuff that adults bring in. They go to school and see each other as little children. We need to keep it that way and keep the politics and stuff out. When I read this I was floored.”

Board member Greg Head said he wants to make sure the administration and teachers have a strong backbone to resist the kind of anti-American indoctrination seen in places like the 1619 curriculum advanced by the New York Times. 

“Those things are direct promotions of racism and division and inequality,” said Head. “I want to make sure we’re on guard. Our constituents don’t want it. They don’t want kids learning this division. It’s coming from an evil source and it’s not something we should be promoting.” 

Board member Stuart Pippin agreed.

“Every child is a child of God, we’re created in God’s image,” said Pippin. “We don’t need to promote anything that’s gonna be divisive. We need to stick to our core mission statements and don’t embrace any of this that’s gonna cause division.”

Pippin added that he was worried because the director of the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA) is also on the board of GLISI. Pippin noted he’s on his way to a GSBA conference this week and will be seeing if it’s discussed.

Head said he thinks any conferences by teachers or administrators should be approved by the board. 

“I definitely don’t want to spend taxpayer money sending them to a useless conference,” said Head. He noted the board has to approve fund raisers etc. 

But chairman Priscilla Doster said she thinks that’s Hickman’s job. Board member Jeremy Goodwin agreed that the board shouldn’t micromanage conferences. 

So then Head asked if there was interest in the board approving a resolution opposing Critical Race Theory in Monroe County schools. 

“You can do it,” said Hickman, “but we’re teaching the standards.”

A majority didn’t support a resolution against CRT. Goodwin noted that it doesn’t matter what the board says because they have to teach state standards, asserting that if the state one day required CRT, they would have to teach it.

“No we won’t,” said Head.