Georgia to remove words ‘diverse’ and ‘diversity’ from teacher training

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission voted to remove the word "diverse" or "diversity" when creating training programs for the state’s future teachers. They say they’re replacing the words with more commonly understood terms.

Some teachers are not happy about the change.

"Our state is more diverse than ever before and I cannot imagine thinking that teachers should go into a classroom not having an understanding of how important their students’ identities are," educator Tracey Nance said.

That’s why Nance and other educators say this change in wording is so substantial.

By a unanimous vote, the commission voted to remove the words "diverse" and "diversity" from the education preparation programs, replacing them instead with the word "different." Commission Chair Brian Sirmans said they were asked to make the change by the University System of Georgia.

"We were asked to remove or simplify words that in recent years have taken on multiple or unintended meanings. We were told that these terms were leading in difficulty in interpreting program standards," Sirmans explained.

"The intent is still it has been, and it will remain that our education preparation programs prepare educators who are well-equipped, well-prepared to meet the needs of each and every child, all students. That is not changing. We are simply changing some words," Penney McRoy, director of the Educator Preparation Division, added.

However, some educators say this isn’t simply changing a word. They feel the intent behind it is changing as well.

"If the intention didn’t matter, the words were just being changed. Why change the words? And that’s because there are intents from other places to move this language in a particular direction," Ogechi Oparah said.

"If it’s close enough to be a synonym, why change it?" she added.

The commission stressed this sets a minimum bar and institutions are able to go above and beyond these standards. But some educators feel it’s a slippery slope.

"That in itself does show that there’s an acknowledgment. The standards through that vote and decision are now lower," Yanice Kout, assistant professor of Education, explained.

The change will go into effect on June 15. The commission is also discussing changing the words "equity," "inclusiveness," and "social justice." That vote will happen during its June meeting. The commission will accept public comment through May 23.