NC education board approves new social studies rules

Published 2:07 pm Friday, February 5, 2021

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RALEIGH (AP) — The Democratic majority of North Carolina’s Board of Education has voted to adopt new K-12 social studies standards that would have teachers discuss racism, discrimination and the perspectives of marginalized groups.

The standards, which will go into effect this fall following Thursday’s 7-5 vote, are supposed to guide teachers in classroom discussions of both the nation’s accomplishments and its failings, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

North Carolina’s children deserve a true and honest education, board member Donna Tipton-Rogers said during Wednesday’s discussion.

“History is the study of change, and by adopting these new social studies standards, we are embracing the essence of what makes the study of history useful and our nation great. To include racism, identity and discrimination is what we should do,” she said.

Some Democratic members tried unsuccessfully on Thursday to get the words “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination” and “gender identity” included in the new standards.

The board’s Republican members called the new standards anti-American, anti-capitalist and anti-democratic. Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who is Black, said an online petition contained more than 30,000 signatures opposing them.

“Moving forward with this is irresponsible,” Robinson said. “We need to go back to the drawing board.”

In a statement released after Thursday’s vote, Robinson called the standards “leftist indoctrination.”

The latest standards follow two years of review. One earlier draft would have had third-grade students study how monuments such as Confederate statues are valued by their community.

In July, the state board voted to delay adoption to give the state Department of Public Instruction more time to include diversity and inclusion in the standards. Board members had cited the need to listen to the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of Black people by white police officers.

Republican board members said they don’t want to hide the negative parts of the nation’s history. But they say the new standards present an overly negative picture of the nation’s history and institutions.

“The standards do not explore and examine and raise to the right elevation the progress that this country has made past the Civil Rights era, past the adoption of the 14th and 15th Amendments,” board member Olivia Oxendine said Wednesday.