North Carolina school boards in Republican-leaning counties are taking action they say will prevent the teaching of critical race theory – and which some teachers say could lead to witch hunts.
This week alone, school boards in Cabarrus, Johnston and Moore counties passed resolutions or policies they say are aimed at preventing the teaching of critical race theory. The metrics talk about things like failing to teach social theories and promoting that people should experience discomfort, guilt, or angst just because of their race or gender.
“This is just to make it very clear to the public what we expect of our teachers: to keep things on critical race theory out of Moore County schools,” said Moore County School Board member Ed Dennison. , at this week’s board meeting.
But some educators say the new policies are so vague they will act as a deterrent, with parents lashing out at teachers for discussing anything they don’t like in class.
âThis will spur a witch hunt for teachers,â April Lee, president of the Johnston County Educators Association, said at the Johnston County School Board meeting this week. âSo I need you to be prepared, and I need you to be ready for us to retaliate.
“It’s unfair and it’s terrible,” she said. âYou have done us a disservice.
The local actions are taking place as Republicans at the state level push for legislation they say would prevent schools from “brainwashing” students by promoting the concepts of critical race theory. Democratic lawmakers say the legislation would lead to whitewashing history, with teachers afraid of what they may say.
Arguing over whether Critical Race Theory is being used
Critical breed theory, according to the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, is a “scientific framework that describes how race, class, gender and sexuality organize American life.”
This view argues that systemic racism has been and continues to be a part of the nation’s history.
Critics, including Republican members of the State Board of Education, accuse the state’s new K-12 social studies standards of incorporating critical race theory. The Democratic majority in the state council said the new standards would help ensure that the views of women, minorities and other historically marginalized groups are represented.
Republican lawmakers have introduced bills in state legislatures and in Congress targeting critical race theory.
School districts in North Carolina have said they don’t teach critical race theory and that people confuse it with anything to do with diversity, equity and inclusion.
Parents have attended school board meetings statewide and nationally to urge districts to oppose critical race theory. Speakers accused schools of trying to shame white students and trying to convert children into warriors of social justice.
This week’s New Hanover County School Board got so busy it was closed earlier, The Wilmington Star-News reported.
Johnston commissioners threaten to withhold money
Pressure increased in Johnston County, where county commissioners said at a meeting in June that they would withhold $ 7.9 million until the school board passed a policy banning critical theory of the race.
This week, the Johnston County School Board amended the Code of Ethics policy to say that “teachers and other employees of the school system will not use any method or material that creates divisions or promotes the ”. animosity among students, staff and the community â.
The updated policy also states that “staff should not teach students social theories outside North Carolina standards of any kind.”
âThis policy says to teach the standard curriculum,â said Lyn Andrews, a member of the Johnston County School Board. âDon’t bring everything else.
But Rick Mercier, a former Johnston County School Board candidate, said the policy would drive out some of the district’s top teachers and make it difficult to attract new talent.
âWe have been threatened that our schools will be reimbursed unless we have adopted a vague and unnecessary policy that will confuse, intimidate and demoralize our teachers,â Mercier told the board.
But Dale Lands, co-founder of the Citizen Advocates for Accountable Government group, said he would urge commissioners not to provide the money until the school board adopts a stricter policy.
“Create a real policy against these racist teachings, not a bare minimum amendment,” Lands told the school board. âWe don’t need dictatorship training or moral and social theory taught to our children.
âStick to what schools should be doing: reading, writing, math, science and history. That’s it. Teach the period of American educational values.
Teachers reporting anonymously
Similar language prohibiting the teaching of “social theories” was included in a policy amendment passed in June by the Brunswick County School Board. Brunswick County is approximately 150 miles south of Raleigh.
Under the revised Brunswick County School Employees Policy, the district âshall ensure that social theories of any kind (i.e.
“We hear you all and we agree with you,” Brunswick County School Board Vice President Steven Barger told the audience. “I’m going to sign off on things that prevent biased teaching, and this is one of them.”
Brunswick County Board members said the public can use the district’s anonymous reporting system to report threats and also report biased teaching.
Johnston County principals have also urged the public to notify Superintendent Eric Bracy of any critical breed theory being taught.
âDr. Bracy has said this repeatedly in meetings that if this was taught he would like to have more information about it and where it is taught so that we can address it,â said Todd Sutton, chairman of the. Johnston County School Board, at this week’s meeting.
Republican Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson has created a task force where people can anonymously report instances where they believe teachers are indoctrinating their students. Robinson said they would release a report next week.
Adopt “non-discrimination” resolutions
Some school boards have adopted language state law to include in their own resolutions “guarantee dignity and non-discrimination in schools. “
Cabarrus County, located 125 miles west of Raleigh, and Moore County, located 60 miles west of Raleigh, approved the resolutions this week.
âWe have a public concerned about something called Critical Race Theory,â Moore County School Board member Bob Levy said at the meeting. âWe debate a lot about what critical race theory is, and often times we don’t get a definition of it.
âIt defines, I believe, what concerns the public. It is important that this enters our policy, not as a gavel, but as a way to guide our students and staff on the philosophy and policy of the Moore County schools.
The Union County School Board is considering a policy proposed this week by board member Gary Sides that also includes language from state law.
“As we have heard this evening and in previous meetings, we not only have a unique county, but in our state and our country parents are concerned about the prejudices that creep into their students’ curriculum,” Sides said.
But the Rev. John Kirkpatrick IV, a member of the Union County School Board, questioned the Bill’s statement that the United States was not created for the purpose of oppressing members of a other race or sex.
âNow if we’re going to talk about history, I think that part needs to be deleted,â Kirkpatrick said. “Because if we really treat history the right way, I’m not talking about what’s happening now but about its creation, that’s a misrepresentation.”