Bill to curb racial teachings advances in North Carolina

Aug 24, 2021, 3:11 PM | Updated: 4:05 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A state Senate hearing on how racial concepts are taught in North Carolina classrooms devolved into chaos Tuesday when one of the state’s highest-ranking Republicans shouted at a prominent Democratic lawmaker and stormed out of the room.

Despite the uproar, the Senate Education Committee ultimately advanced the measure, which would bar teachers from compelling students to personally adopt any of 13 beliefs. North Carolina is one of more than two dozen states where GOP lawmakers have moved to define how racism and sexism can be taught in schools.

An hour before the hearing, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson held a news conference with other top Republicans and released an 831-page task force report highlighting instances when teachers allegedly assigned inappropriate reading materials on racism and sexuality to young pupils.

Democrats on the committee grilled Robinson, saying he and other Republicans could not identify a single case where the bill — if signed into law — would prevent such cases of “indoctrination” from taking place. Senate Democratic Whip Jay Chaudhuri accused Robinson and his task force of threatening educators.

“This week marks the first week of our kids going back to school, and I feel that we should be spending time this week honoring our children, and instead, we’re spending time debating a Fox News-driven issue that’s more about fear-mongering and has turned into a fishing expedition of our public school teachers,” Chaudhuri said.

Robinson took issue with Chaudhuri’s assertion the conservative network is driving the discussion.

“For you to call it that is an insult, an absolute insult,” Robinson exclaimed. “You know where my office is and you know that this task force is going on. When did you contact me?”

When the Republican chairing the committee interjected to stop the conversation from escalating, Robinson stormed out, saying, “All of this is driving me nuts.” Chaudhuri said afterward that he was “taken aback” by Robinson’s comments. He accused Republicans of “political posturing going into the 2022 and 2024 election.”

“This bill is in search of a problem that does not exist in our classrooms,” Chaudhuri said.

Robinson later said he found Chaudhuri’s remarks “disrespectful.”

“He chose to criticize the work my office has done without ever reaching out to provide his input or concerns,” Robinson said in an email.

The education committee approved the measure, which now heads to the Senate Rules Committee before an expected floor vote. If approved, the bill would need final approval from the GOP-controlled House, which previously backed an earlier version.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has criticized the measure and would almost assuredly veto it. Republicans would likely lack the votes to override Cooper’s decision.

During the hearing, conservative members of the public often referenced critical race theory, a framework legal scholars developed in the 1970s and 1980s centering on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and serves to maintain the dominance of whites in society. Conservatives have used the term as somewhat of a catchall phrase to describe racial concepts they find objectionable, such as white privilege, systemic inequality and inherent bias.

The theory drew the ire of former President Donald Trump after a conservative activist appeared on Fox News and discussed racial bias training programs within the federal government that Trump found objectionable. Trump subsequently issued an executive order barring federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training.

Twenty-six states have considered legislation or other steps to limit how racism and sexism can be taught, according to an Education Week analysis, as of Aug. 12, with several states adopting language from Trump’s executive order.

When House Republicans in North Carolina introduced the measure in May, they referenced the need to combat the theory, though their bill did not mention critical race theory by name.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger revised House Bill 324 last month to add five prohibited concepts and clarify that such ideas could still be taught as long as educators did not “promote” the beliefs by forcing pupils to personally adopt them. Demi Dowdy, a spokeswoman for GOP House Speaker Tim Moore, said the chamber will review the changes once it clears the Senate but noted Moore “certainly agrees with the fundamental premise of the bill.”

While there is no evidence of K-12 teachers in North Carolina explicitly teaching the theory to students, Republicans have previously pointed to left-leaning districts hosting trainings, workshops or guest speakers espousing beliefs the GOP argues are central to the theory.

Tuesday’s task force report identified cases of some teachers offering questionable class assignments, including a book called “George” about a transgender child coming to terms with gender identity and a vocabulary sheet that mentions Trump in a sentence describing the term “xenophobia.”

___

Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson.

___

Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Law enforcement get ready for a search after a small plane crash in Carteret County, N.C., o...
Associated Press

Lawsuits in NC plane crash that killed 8 settled for $15M

The families of five passengers killed in a 2022 plane crash off the North Carolina coast have settled wrongful death lawsuits against the companies that owned the plane and employed the pilot and the pilot’s estate for $15 million, family representatives announced Friday. All eight people aboard the Pilatus PC-12/47 died when it descended into […]
10 hours ago
FILE -  In this aerial photo taken with a drone, flood waters surround storm damaged homes on Aug. ...
Associated Press

Filipino workers: Oil company abandoned us in Hurricane Ida

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As Hurricane Ida struck the Louisiana Gulf Coast in August 2021, Renato Decena and Rosel Hernandez watched the storm punch a hole in the roof of the bunkhouse where they were sheltered — abandoned, they allege, by their offshore oil industry employer as the hurricane bore down. “I could not think […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Tubes direct blood from a donor into a bag in Davenport, Iowa, on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.  Th...
Associated Press

FDA moves to ease rules for blood donations from gay men

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is moving to further ease restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men and other groups that typically face higher risks of HIV. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced draft guidelines that would do away with the current three-month abstinence requirement for donations from men who have […]
10 hours ago
FILE -Brian Walshe listens during his arraignment Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at Quincy District Cour...
Associated Press

Internet evidence key, but not enough in no-body murder case

BOSTON (AP) — Prosecutors in Massachusetts are basing their murder case against a man whose wife is presumed dead but whose body has not been found in large part on a series of gruesome internet searches he made around the time of her disappearance. Scouring data on personal electronic devices is a common strategy in […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Explosion in Polish parish house kills 1, injures 7

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Officials in southern Poland said that a person was found dead Friday after an explosion demolished half of an old Evangelical parish house in the city of Katowice. The explosion injured at least seven people, and one person remained missing, according to the regional governor. Gov. Jaroslaw Wieczorek said two women […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Company logo shines off the grille of an unsold 2023 F-150 Lightning pickup truck Thursday, ...
Associated Press

Ford recalls nearly 383K SUVs to fix backup camera problem

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling nearly 383,000 SUVs in the U.S. because the touch screens may not display a camera image when backing up. The recall covers certain 2020 to 2023 Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators, and some 2020 to 2022 Lincoln Corsairs. All are equipped with 360-degree cameras. Ford says in government documents […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Bill to curb racial teachings advances in North Carolina