by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
I pay close attention when I read or hear the words “leftist talk,” especially when it involves school-aged kids. The words I’m talking about now — “they smack of a lot of leftist talk” — come from our new Lt. Gov., Mark Robinson, the first African-American to hold the job.
Lt. Gov. Robinson is a member of the state Board of Education and a man who speaks his mind. As Carolina Journal reports, at this week’s meeting, it was proposed changes to the state’s social studies standards that led to his comments, standards that became a flash point in the meeting, standards that concern him deeply.
In my view, this debate is really a proxy for the two distinct world views held by Americans. Are we a country of freedom and opportunity despite dark and discriminatory chapters in our history? Or, are we a country mired in, and driven by, that dark and discriminatory behavior to this day?
I’m with freedom and opportunity. And I write that based on 30 years of life experience as half of an interracial marriage. Half of my loved ones are Mexican and Apache, half are white. I’ve witnessed racism firsthand, and I’ve witnessed redemption and change firsthand as well.
To give you more perspective, here’s Locke’s Dr. Terry Stoops giving you brief background on the debate over the social studies standards.
Here’s how it went down at this week’s state board meeting, as reported by Carolina Journal.
The changes sparked immediate pushback from board member Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and other members. The board is set to vote on the standards next week.
“I don’t think they’re for the benefit of the students. I think they’re for the benefit of those who have a political agenda,” Robinson said. “They are politically charged, divisive, and they smack of a lot of leftist talk. … I know all of the code words, and I know what they lead to. I don’t like where they will lead our students.”
So where do you come down? I hope it’s with freedom and opportunity, for that’s our best path forward. We can’t — and shouldn’t — deny our history. We should talk about it. But we shouldn’t let it overwhelm who we are and blind us to progress made and to the future that waits for each of us. My family hasn’t, and I hope your family won’t either.
Let’s choose North Carolina’s course wisely.