Senate committee advances controversial bill to restrict what can be taught in state’s schools

A controversial Republican-backed bill to restrict what can be taught in schools about America’s racial past crossed another hurdle Wednesday.

House Bill 324 received a favorable report from the Rules and Operations Committee of the Senate. The Senate’s Education/Higher Committee gave the bill a favorable nod Tuesday.

Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham, told colleagues that the bill doesn’t prohibit educators from teaching hard truths about America’s history.

“It does call for the limitation on promoting certain concepts,” Berger said, adding that the bill would prohibit teachers from “indoctrinating” students with what critics of public education contend is liberal political ideology.

When Sen. Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County asked Berger why HB 324 is necessary, Berger explained that it addresses concerns parents have about what children are taught in schools.

“If you have witnessed what is taking place at school board meetings across the state, where parents and members of the public are coming forward expressing concern about [teacher] training sessions that are taking place, expressing concerns about some aspects of what these parents feel are indoctrination of their children; I think this bill is responding to those concerns that have been expressed by those parents,” Berger said.

Sen. Joyce Waddell, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, asked if the curricula adopted by the State Board of Education ensure teachers don’t stray off course.

“Aren’t they [state school board members] the ones who put the curriculum in place for the public schools?” Waddell asked.

Berger said that if the curricula don’t promote the concepts prohibited in HB 324, the bill wouldn’t impact it.

As presently drafted, HB 324 would ban the following concepts from being discussed in public school classrooms:

  • 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.
  • An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
  • An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
  • An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.
  • A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist.
  • The United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.
  • The United States government should be violently overthrown.
  • Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex.
  • The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups.
  • All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.

Several people spoke in favor of HB 324 when public comments were allowed. Most of the speakers also made remarks Tuesday during the Senate’s Education/Higher Education Committee meeting.

Natalya Androsova, a Wake County resident who moved to America from Russia 22 years ago, compared what’s being taught in America’s public schools to the communist propaganda she experienced while living in the Soviet Union.

Androsova said she withdrew her children from the public school system to homeschool them.

She said Critical Race Theory and Marxism are embedded in the curriculum.

“I can’t allow my child to absorb any of that drunk ideology because it destroys dignity or human beings,” Androsova said.

As Policy Watch reported last month, Critical Race Theory is an academic discipline from the world of higher education 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.

Jim Walsh, a Wake County resident, said the NC Department of Public Instruction is a “loose dog” that has failed to prevent teachers from indoctrinating students.

Walsh suggested that HB 324 be amended to require classrooms to be outfitted with cameras and teachers with body cameras like those worn by police officers.

“The teachers are no better than our policemen,” he said.

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