A North Carolina social studies teacher makes the case for teaching the truth about history on national television

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.

Rodney Pierce

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.

Madison Cawthorn officially flips his lid, promises to “prosecute” Fauci

For those who may have only experienced the frequently outrageous and sometimes downright deranged rants of North Carolina freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn in print, you’ll undoubtedly want to take a moment to see and hear this deeply troubled and delusional young man in action by checking out the following excerpts from his recent appearance on a right-wing show called “Just the Truth.”

Cawthorn, as you can see, offers the truly bizarre, absurd and frightening assurance that “when” Republicans retake control of Congress in 2022, he [Cawthorn] will “make sure consequences are doled out” to Dr. Anthony Fauci and that Fauci is pursuing his nefarious plot to “lie to the American people” for the purpose of “seeing his name in the news” and to “get fame and fortune.”

As usual, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the fact that such a confused and malevolent figure is representing our state in the United States Congress, but it must be conceded that when it comes to the congressman’s latter unhinged accusations about Fauci’s supposed motives in working to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Cawthorn is at least holding forth on a subject about which he knows a great deal.

Mecklenburg teacher obtains, publishes comments submitted to Lt. Gov’s education “FACTS” task force

Justin Parmenter

As is his wont, veteran Mecklenburg County public school teacher Justin Parmenter has done the state a valuable service in recent weeks by obtaining and publishing dozens of comments submitted by members of the public to the new “F.A.C.T.S. task force” established by North Carolina’s always embarrassing Lt. Governor, Mark Robinson. (Note to the Lite Guv: you’ve got a typo in the headline on the task force website.)

Robinson, as you’re probably aware by now, has courted controversy throughout his brief political career by repeatedly uttering outrageous comments that make Donald Trump sound like a thoughtful and mild-mannered intellectual. In particular, Robinson has a special affinity for dispensing ignorant, anti-Semitic barbs that would, 30 years ago, have gotten him kicked out of all major political parties and disqualified him from holding high office. His “task force” supposedly represents an effort to, in a manner that would make Joe McCarthy proud, ferret out all the leftist indoctrination to which the state’s diabolical cadre of commie teachers are subjecting their students.

Not surprisingly, the comments Robinson received are unlikely to shake up, much less spur any kind of dramatic overhaul in, the world of public education. Parmenter — God bless him —  went through 506 of them and published some representative samples in a pair of posts on his website, Notes from the Chalkboard.

Click here and here to read them.

As he explained in the introduction to the first post, entitled “Many of the submissions to Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s teacher indoctrination portal are just people roasting Mark Robinson”:

Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson launched his F.A.C.T.S. (“Fairness and Accountability for Teachers and Students”) website in March, touting it as a tool to help smoke out the rampant liberal indoctrination that is occurring in North Carolina’s classrooms.

But if you see any smoke, it’s more likely from the copious roasts of the F.A.C.T.S. project and Robinson’s extreme politics that have been submitted through the portal.

After obtaining and reading all 506 F.A.C.T.S. submissions through a public records request, I can report that a significant number of them are complaints from people who see the lieutenant governor’s effort as a shameful political witch hunt or tongue-in-cheek reports intended to mock his project. In addition, many of the submissions are from North Carolinians who more generally object to his homophobic, xenophobic views.

The submissions are not all criticisms and roasts, and they do include a good bit of generic bashing of public schools, wild accusations of teachers being satanic communists, and pleas to end the persecution of white people by Robinson’s fringe base.

And this is from the intro to post #2 (“‘I guess she had the right skin color.’ Complaints to Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s indoctrination portal dominated by white racial resentment”):

Many of the 506 complaints to Robinson’s task force come from North Carolinians who appear deeply concerned about what they perceive as a move away from a white Christian-centered system of public education.

These submissions include recommendations to cancel Black History Month, pleas to stop making white students feel guilty by teaching so much about slavery – which one individual remarked “is getting old”– and suggestions to end hiring practices aimed at increasing diversity of school staff.

They provide a helpful lens to understand the real motivation behind moves across the country to restrict classroom discussions on race and various types of oppression under the false pretense of fighting the boogeyman “critical race theory.”

The bottom line: Let’s hope Parmenter and other gifted educators like him who care deeply about providing our state’s schoolchildren with the education they deserve keep calling out Robinson’s nonsense.

The Senate’s proposed budget takes a step to tackle period poverty

As a new student at NC A&T State University, Lena Vann learned how difficult it was to find affordable menstrual supplies.

“As a college student, they were not always accessible or available to me,” she said.

That experience and attending a school with activism in its DNA led Vann to start The Black Period Project, an organization that provides supplies to schools – mostly to Title 1 middle schools in the Triad. The Black Period Project started in 2019 and since that time has delivered hundreds of packs of pads, liners, and wipes along with a resource card so students would know which adults in the school were storing them.

When school buildings were closed in the pandemic, the project delivered hygiene packs to student food pick-up points.

Vann, now a rising senior, said she always keeps hygiene kits in her car for homeless menstruators.

“As someone who feels privileged to attend school, I thought, what about people who can’t advocate for themselves? What about young girls or trans boys? Who is helping them? When I looked at the period advocacy space, there were not a lot of Black women or young Black women. I decided in March 2019 it was going to be me.”

While period poverty for years has been framed as an international problem, there’s more awareness of its impact in the United States. Realizing that some students are missing school because they cannot afford period products, states have begun taking steps to ease some of the financial burden.

The Georgia legislature put $1.5 million in its budget this year for menstrual supplies for schools and community centers in low-income areas, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

A new Vermont law requires schools make the products free in female and gender-neutral bathrooms.

A handful of other states require schools to make supplies freely available in all public school bathrooms or in low-income schools.

In North Carolina, the Senate budget proposes to make $250,000 in grants available to schools for feminine hygiene products.

State Sen. Natalie Murdock, a Durham Democrat, proposed a bill that would make the money available. The state Department of Public Instruction supports the line item. Murdock said that GOP Sen. Deanna Ballard, who helps lead the Senate’s education budget committee, advocated for including the money in the Senate spending plan.

Murdock said she considers the $250,000 funding a pilot project to see who applies for the money. An immediate focus is trying to keep the proposal in the version of the budget the House is writing.

“This pilot program is the first step. We need to take this issue of period poverty seriously, and follow our neighbors such as Georgia,” she said.

Diaper Bank of North Carolina started On the Spot in 2016, delivering period products to schools that want them. Diaper Bank executive director Michelle Old said it would probably cost about $500,000 to supply all the schools.

Teachers in middle and high schools know some menstruating students miss school because they cannot afford hygiene products, Old said.

“We really feel that period supplies are school supplies and dignity is not a privilege and it is not something that menstruating individuals should have to make a choice about,” Old said.

States still lag in getting assistance to struggling renters according to federal data