By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
August 26, 2021
“Teach the truth, teach it unabridged, but do not cross the line to tell children what to think” — that’s what Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson says needs to happen in North Carolina public schools and the message that lawmakers are trying to get across with HB 324, which won approval from the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.
Passed by the House in May with a list of seven theories that school personnel must not promote, the current version of the legislation dubbed “Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools” has been expanded to include 13 concepts, including many related to critical race theory, which should not be foisted on students or teachers.
“It has nothing to do with teaching about our country’s ugly past. Students must learn about slavery, the Wilmington massacre and race riots, Jim Crow, red-lining and everything else. It is part of our history and it must be told,” said Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “Critical Race Theory warps that history and twists it into a worldview that sees everything and everybody always through the lens of race, a doctrine that teaches ‘the only remedy for past discrimination is present discrimination.’ That is what we are pushing back against.”
Prior to Tuesday morning’s Education Committee meeting, Berger, Robinson and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt held a press conference at which Robinson announced that his Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students Task Force had uncovered proof of indoctrination going on in public schools. The task force has received more than 500 reports from North Carolinians concerned about ideas being forced on them in the school system, with many expressing fear of retaliation for speaking out.
By way of example, Robinson said some fourth-graders are being presented with a book called “George” about a boy questioning his sexual identity and considering removing his genitalia. He said attendees at Governor’s School, a summer program for some of the state’s brightest high school students, are being asked questions about their sexuality.
Other reports received by the task force included one from a parent whose freshman child was told if “you were white and Christian, you should be ashamed,” and another from a 14-year veteran teacher who said school staff were told during a professional development session that they were unintentionally racist based on the color of their skin.
Parents described vocabulary lessons chock full of Critical Race Theory buzz words and English classes focused on social justice ideology rather than grammar and composition.
“This is about teaching our students how to think, not what to think and giving them the skills they need to succeed,” Robinson said. “In a school system that is failing to teach its children to read, there is no place for some of the stuff that we have discovered. We need to get back to the business of education.”
Truitt said there are plenty of excellent things happening in public schools, but that she is disappointed by the examples she has seen reported to the task force.
“I am also sympathetic to the students and parents who have experienced what can only be described as pressure to conform to ideas that are not their own,” she said. “No student should ever feel marginalized. No student should feel anxious about his or her place in school.”
Truitt said educators must comply with rules and guidelines, work on a tight schedule and aren’t even allowed to leave the grounds for lunch, but that when they are in their classroom with their students they have “enormous latitude in what is said and done.”
“A vast majority of teachers use this latitude very responsibly, but in reading this report, it is very clear that some have used their personal and political beliefs to influence students rather than to educate them. There is a distinct difference to those approaches in the classroom. And while I know that most educators understand this nuance, it is important to have guardrails in place for if and when a line is crossed.”
Truitt pointed out that House Bill 324 doesn’t prevent educators from having robust conversations about difficult topics, but helps ensure that “multiple perspectives are considered and every viewpoint is heard without marginalization or retribution.”
Berger reiterated that point when he addressed the Education Committee, assuring his colleagues that the bill does not limit speech protected by the First Amendment or hinder teachers from the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history. Teachers would still be able to give instruction about the historical oppression of people groups based on race, ethnicity, class or other factors and could share concepts described in the bill as long as they made it clear that the school was not endorsing the ideas.
Debate on the bill became heated when Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake) called concerns about indoctrination a “Fox News-driven issue” and criticized Robinson’s FACTS task force for not holding public meetings, comments that the lieutenant governor did not take kindly to. Before voting on the bill, the committee heard from nine members of the public, the majority of them concerned parents who did not want their children exposed to Critical Race Theory.
Having won approval from the Education Committee, the bill them moved to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate and passed out of that committee easily and moved to the Senate floor where it passed on Thursday by a vote of 25-17.
The legislation now goes to the Governor.
Below are the 13 concepts that the schools would not be able to promote under the bill:
(1) One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
(2) An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.
(3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
(4) An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
(5) An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
(6) Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.
(7) A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist.
(8) The United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.
(9) The United States government should be violently overthrown.
(10) Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex.
(11) The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups.
(12) All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
(13) Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.