by Dr. Robert Luebke
Senior Fellow, Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Any good communications person will tell you if you want to bury a story, dump it on the news media late Friday afternoon.
That’s exactly what Gov. Roy Cooper did late last Friday afternoon when he vetoed HB 324. The bill was the Republican response to the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in North Carolina public schools.
CRT is a controversial pedagogy which asserts that the United States is an inherently racist nation, and that residents are reduced to either the oppressors or the oppressed, based on one’s racial identity. Advocates of CRT believe because business, the practices and routines, and the institutions of this nation are irreparably stained with racism, it is not possible for minorities and other oppressed individuals to succeed and advance. The only way to remedy this problem is a total transformation of racist structures and institutions. And, to do so may require discrimination to correct for past discrimination.
Unlike legislation in some other states, HB 324 did not outright ban the use of Critical Race Theory in the classroom. Instead, it made the stronger case for affirming the U.S. Constitution’s commitment to equality and nondiscrimination. Among other things, HB 324 prohibited schools from teaching one race or sex are superior to another. HB 324 also prohibited schools from teaching that individuals can be viewed as inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, merely because of their race or sex. Moreover, and equally important, the legislation opposed the idea that individuals should be discriminated against, simply because of their race or sex.
The Governor’s veto of this bill is significant. The bill passed the House 61-41, with all Republicans supporting the bill and every Democrat opposing it. In the Senate HB 324 passed on a 25-17 party-line vote.
In his veto message, Cooper said:
The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.
If the Governor really believed what he was saying, would he have buried his veto message in a Friday afternoon?
Cooper knows CRT is a hot-button issue and he knows he and his Democrat lawmakers are in trouble on this issue.
More and more parents believe our classrooms are becoming politicized and that teachers are often the root of the problem.
A recent Civitas-Locke Poll found that 65 percent of respondents believe that in the past five years, classroom instruction in the local Kindergarten through 12th grade schools has become more political. Four percent of respondents believe it has become less political.
That same poll found by 57 percent of respondents believe teachers are sharing their personal beliefs to influence the beliefs of their students. Thirty percent of respondents disagreed with the assertion.
When asked what should be done about the issue of teachers sharing their personal beliefs, a plurality of respondents (33 percent) said “require teachers to show no preference for certain ideas. Prohibit discussion of certain ideas and issues garnered 22 percent.
These developments are most disconcerting. The governor of this state as well as forty-one Democrats in the House and fifteen Democrats in the Senate failed to affirm the foundational principles of equality and nondiscrimination.
The politicization of our schools must be stopped, and these votes shouldn’t be forgotten.
How did your lawmaker vote? Find out here.