State Superintendent Catherine Truitt has walked back comments she made last week suggesting the state Senate is reluctant to take up a bill prohibiting school districts from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) because it fears a backlash from corporate interests.
Truitt, a Republican, made the comment June 10 during a “meet and greet” with Orange County Republicans.
“I shared that I thought the Senate may not take up the bill (House Bill 324) out of concern for bad publicity with the business community,” Truitt said in a statement. “In conversations since, it’s clear the Senate will move a bill they feel is in the best interest of NC, its students, and will not bend to the whims of corporations and tech companies.”
Republican-led legislatures across the country have sought to pass laws prohibiting the teaching of CRT, an academic theory that examines how American racism has shaped public policy.
Critics contend CRT is divisive and paints whites as “irredeemable” racists. “It’s the idea that every aspect of American society is racist,” Truitt explained.
Meanwhile, those who support CRT say it’s important that children learn “hard, uncomfortable truths” about America’s racial history, which includes slavery, Jim Crow Law and the brutal lynching of Blacks at the hands of white mobs.
Truitt had speculated in Orange County that Senate leaders are worried that companies such as Apple and Google, both of which plan to make substantial investments in the state, would react negatively to HB 324.
In 2016, the passage of House Bill 2 requiring people to use public bathrooms that match their birth gender and excluded gay and transgender people from discrimination protections touched off an tsunami of outrage among companies doing business in the state.
HB 2 was repealed after businesses, musicians and others began to cancel investment plans and performances.
“The kind of cowardice that we saw during House Bill 2 with corporations boycotting us is the same cowardice we see in corporations today,” Truitt said in Orange County.
Earlier this year, Truitt fought against the inclusion of phrases such as systemic racism, systemic discrimination and gender identity in the state’s new social studies standards.
However, Truitt had never been as explicit about her opposition to CRT as she was in the statement walking back comments about the Senate’s reluctance to take up HB 324.
“As your superintendent, I will continue to do everything I can to stop CRT and eradicate it from classrooms,” Truitt said. “Republicans in NC are united on this.”
The superintendent has faced criticism in some conservative quarters for not doing enough to rid North Carolina schools of CRT. Education First Alliance NC, a conservative group linked to a national organization that has vowed to fight against CRT, has been especially critical of Truitt.
Truitt sought to shore up her conservative credentials while in Orange County.
“I am a pro-life conservative who believes that the nine scariest words in the English language are; ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” Truitt said, paraphrasing one of former president Ronald Reagan’s more memorable quips.