Social Studies

Lawmaker Supporting Confederate History Named to Ga. Civics Ed. Panel

By Stephen Sawchuk — June 05, 2017 1 min read

A former Georgia teacher whose controversial remarks about slavery, the Ku Klux Klan—a white supremicist organization—and Confederate memorials, has been appointed to a panel in the state that will make recommendations on civic education, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Rep. Tommy Benton, a Republican, was named to the position alongside two others on June 2 by Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. A retired history teacher, Benton drew criticism in 2016 when he called the Ku Klux Klan “not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order,” in remarks printed by the newspaper.

Benton has also pushed bills to forbid the moving of Confederate memorials and a resolution to celebrate “Confederate History Month,” in which he referred to the Civil War as a “four-year struggle for states’ rights, individual freedom, and local governmental control,” among other things. That description stands at odds with contemporary historiography, which notes that the Civil War was explicitly fought over the legality of slavery. (You needn’t look further than Georgia’s own Declaration of Secession for proof; it references slavery in its second sentence.)

The civics study panel was put together to review Georgia’s current civics education programming and make recommendations on its standards, curriculum, and assessments.

Some educators have already denounced Benton’s appointment on Twitter. In explaining their choice, officials at the Georgia house pointed to Benton’s decades of classroom experience teaching both state and American history.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.