RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Senate Republicans unveiled legislation Wednesday aimed at banning public schools from promoting certain concepts related to race and sex while also calling for a Constitutional amendment that could ban affirmative action.
Senate leader Phil Berger (R) made the announcement as he called attention to recent school board meetings across North Carolina. He highlighted where parents and community members have brought up Critical Race Theory.
The bill he’s backing would prohibit schools from promoting a series of 13 concepts. Among them:
- one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex
- an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive
- any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress, and
- the United States government should be violently overthrown.
The bill defines ‘promote’ as “compelling students, teachers, administrators, or other school employees to affirm or profess belief in the concepts.”
“We’re not saying schools can’t talk about these things. We’re just saying schools are not to promote a belief in those things,” Sen. Berger said. “We can, and hopefully will, pass a law to prohibit indoctrinating students while preserving the principle of freedom of thought.”
He also said Republicans want to put a proposed Constitutional amendment on the ballot during next year’s primary election. Pew Research said it would be similar to language other states have used to ban affirmative action.
It would read, “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
Constitutional amendments require a supermajority of the legislature to be placed on the ballot and then have to be approved by a majority of voters.
In turn, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued a response to the latest legislation.
“Let’s stop injecting calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education and start making real investments that ensure a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every school. After this pandemic and the loss of learning that has occurred, let’s have a bipartisan focus of time, energy and investment on making sure our children can read, learn math and get a quality, accurate education.”
Additionally, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) attended a committee meeting to advocate for the bill Wednesday, saying he would release a report next week from a task force he formed to investigate claims of “indoctrination” in schools.
When asked for specific examples of situations that the bill would address, he said a girl who wanted to write a report about him as a person of color who made history would be told she couldn’t.
He said he couldn’t be sure why.
“You tell me why that teacher would not allow that unless that teacher just disagrees with my politics,” Robinson said.
Furthermore, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake) said in the discussion he did not hear any evidence of students being indoctrinated.
“This bill establishes a speech code and runs completely counter what conservative lawmakers in this room believe and that’s in free speech,” he said. “This bill, I believe, purports to do away with so-called Critical Race Theory. What I fear is what it really does away with is critical thinking in our classroom.”
Finally, the North Carolina Association of Educators criticized the bill and said “students deserve honesty in education.”
“Manufactured outrage over a political problem that does not exist is a shameless attempt to score political points,” NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly said in a statement. “Senate leaders are stoking fear aimed at discrediting our hard-working educators and dividing parents and the public along racial and ideological lines.”
The House originally passed a bill in May aimed at addressing Critical Race Theory. It passed strictly along party lines.