Equity & education: Two major stories to watch this Wednesday

The Senate Education Committee will take up House Bill 324 (Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools) this afternoon at 2:00pm.

Many North Carolina educators worry the legislation will hamper the ability of teachers to openly discuss systemic inequities with their students.

Here’s how the Public School Forum described the legislation in May as it made its way through the state House:

…the most recent version of House Bill 324 incites a fear-based approach to limit teachers’ ability to discuss the reality of racism in the United States and would limit students’ engagement with history, current events, and personal health, as well as their social and emotional learning.

The bill will also hinder efforts at the school district level to understand and tackle the root cause of inequities in our educational system and address the opportunity gap. While non-discrimination and unity are worthy ideals for which we should all strive every day, this bill would take us further from these goals. The only way to truly work towards unity and nondiscrimination is to bravely and honestly reckon with our country’s complicated past and present.

We have made progress in the movement toward a more just and equitable world, but we still have much more work to do. Engaging students in these critical conversations and complex issues is an ideal way to enable students to analyze, question, and generate solutions to challenging, real world problems. By denying our students these opportunities, we also deny them their constitutional right to a sound basic education, and we put them, and our nation at a future disadvantage. We must not deny students this right simply because these truths are challenging and uncomfortable.

Our students are ready to learn and reimagine a better future for us all. And, in order to do so, we must ensure that they are equipped with the facts and have the knowledge and skills to lead us there.

Policy Watch education reporter Greg Childress will be monitoring today’s Senate committee meeting.

You can follow the debate over HB 324 this afternoon at 2:00pm with an audio stream available here.

Chancellor Guskiewicz

The second education story you’ll want to watch will be over in Chapel Hill as the UNC Faculty Council will hold an emergency meeting amid concerns that the school’s Board of Trustees and UNC System Board of Governors are considering replacing Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

Guskiewicz has come under fire recently for the handling of the tenure controversy of acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

New members of the UNC-CH Board of Trustees are being sworn in this week and could press for his removal.

Mimi Chapman, chairwoman of UNC faculty, telling the Raleigh News & Observer the optics would be terrible:

…removing Guskiewicz as chancellor would be a “threat to the well-being of our campus,” particularly at a time when the university is also searching for a new provost.

Hannah-Jones, for who declined UNC for Howard University after a tumultuous tenure battle, responded to news this way:

Though much of today’s Faculty Council meeting will be in closed session, a livestream will be available at this link starting at 3:00pm.

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