COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The House Committee on Education and Public Works listened to hours of public testimony on bills dealing with critical race theory in schools.

Dozens signed up to speak either in opposition or in support of the bills. State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman was the first person to speak to lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.

Most of the bills on the agenda would restrict what could be taught in a public classroom in South Carolina if it fell under the tenets of critical race theory. According to some of those bills, this includes a concept that would make an individual ‘feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex’.

Superintendent Spearman told lawmakers if they were to ban educators from teaching something that is ‘uncomfortable’ they’d be going ‘down a dangerous path’. She said, “Omitting this history because it’s uncomfortable – that’s not the American way.”

Spearman said educators in South Carolina should be able to teach things like slavery, the Holocaust, or Orangeburg Massacre. “Students should have the opportunity to discuss it and to share their thoughts with their peers,” she said.

According to Spearman, the state Department of Education’s academic standards do not include critical race theory and re-iterated her stance against it Wednesday. Spearman said they have conducted a thorough review of the state’s instructional materials.

Spearman told lawmakers she believes the state needs some permanent legislation, to give parents and teachers some ‘clear direction’. She said it shouldn’t come from politicians trying to appease voters in an election year.

“We need more parents and more grandparents involved in education, not less,” Spearman said. She told the committee, in the last year, her department received ‘several hundred’ complaints about ‘critical race theory’ being taught in schools.

She said they investigated those claims. In some cases, a teacher said or taught something they weren’t supposed to. She said principals handled those issues. Other instances the claims were unfounded.

“I don’t want a teacher to think, ‘If I say something wrong, I might lose my teaching license. We cannot do that,” Spearman said.

The committee did not take any action on the bills Wednesday evening.