A North Carolina social studies teacher appeared on MSNBC’s REIDOUT on Wednesday to discuss accusations that he’s biased for teaching the realities of slavery.
Rodney Pierce teaches at Red Oak Middle School in Battleboro, where he incorporates the history of local lynchings, slavery and Confederate monuments into lessons.
Pierce, who worked on the state’s new social studies standards, has been accused of being politically biased and obsessed with slavery by some parents.
“If you do not teach the history of slavery in the United States, then you are not teaching the history of the United States,” Pierce told host Jonathan Capehart.
Pierce and Capehart stressed that the educator’s views were his and not the views of Nash County Public Schools, the district where Pierce works.
Pierce’s appearance on the nightly news program to discuss the Republican-led, national backlash against Critical Race Theory comes as North Carolina lawmakers consider House Bill 324 to restrict what students can learn about the nation’s racial past.
As a result of parent’s complaints, Pierce said he had to show how his lessons are relative to the social studies standards and accompanying “unpacking” documents teachers may use to craft lesson plans.
“Once that connection is made, and the administrators understand that the connection is made and that what is being taught is covered by that, they’re supportive of it, and parents usually understand at that point,” Pierce said.
Kristie Puckett-Williams, a civil rights activist and the Smart Justice manager for the ACLU of North Carolina, told lawmakers last week that measures such as HB 324 will have a “chilling effect” on educators’ ability to teach important parts of American history.
The former social studies teacher of the year was recently featured in the progressive news magazine Mother Jones. He discussed the parents’ accusations in an article titled “The Moral Panic Over Critical Race Theory is Coming for a North Carolina Teacher of the Year.”
As Policy Watch reported last month, Critical Race Theory is an academic discipline that examines how American racism has shaped law and public policy. CRT emerged in the legal academy in the 1980s as an offshoot of critical legal studies.
Fears about Critical Race Theory have spread nationwide in recent months. Many political observers believe the issue could tip the 2022 midterm elections in favor of Republicans, many of whom are still mourning the loss of the White House.
State Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham, vowed last week to keep critical race theory out North Carolina’s K-12 classrooms.
“I oppose it, and I will combat it with everything that I have, because I believe the doctrine undoes the framework that produced the most successful ongoing experiment in self-government in the history of mankind,” Berger said last week.
Educators say the discipline is not taught in schools.