Updated: Jul 3, 2021
From our friends at No Left Turn, a letter to Sen. Phil Berger.
24 June 2021 Senator Phil Berger Senate President Pro Tempore
16 West Jones Street, Rm 2007 Raleigh, NC 27601
Dear Senator Berger,
When will HB324 be brought to the State Senate floor?
HB324 protects the civil rights of children and teachers in the classroom. Across the state and across the county, students in the K-12 public school system are subjected to harassment, compelled speech, and intimidation in the name of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that include anti-racism and social justice training sessions.(1) A network of non-profit “equity” and “anti-racism” groups have infiltrated the North Carolina public school system, taking tax-payer dollars to teach White instructors that they are racist because of their skin color and Black teachers that they will always be victims.(2) Groups like Weare-NC.org (Working to extend anti-racism education) use the Southern Poverty Law Center Learning for Justice curriculum to indoctrinate teachers in progressive Left ideologies and identity politics.(3) Those who run these consultancy groups that depend on public school funds are directly involved with public policy in education, arguably using the public education system for their own ideological and financial gain.(4)(5)
Knowing that government officials—elected and appointed—potentially craft educational policy to directly benefit their own “equity” and “anti-racism” consultancy groups, the need for HB324 becomes obvious. Section I.b.3 explicitly addresses consultants and trainers cashing in on public tax- payer funds to spread their ideological indoctrination of systemic racism and white privilege. Most of these diversity training groups are grounded in Critical Race Theory (CRT) or use resources from Critical Race Theorists. The American Bar Association, in A Lesson on Critical Race Theory(6), states: “CRT recognizes that racism is codified in law, embedded in structures, and woven into public policy. CRT rejects claims of meritocracy or ‘colorblindness’.” CRT, by definition, dismisses the very classical liberal concepts upon which the United States advanced.
A recent poll conducted by The Economist/YouGov investigated attitudes of Americans toward Critical Race Theory. Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming majority of Republicans found CRT “very unfavorable” at 85%, while only 7% of Democrats thought CRT unfavorable. Most importantly, however, NC state senators need to understand the following statistic: 71% of Independents polled found CRT “very unfavorable” and 72% of Independents thought teaching CRT was “Bad for America”.(7)
NC Republicans failing to bring this bill to the senate floor, and NC Republicans failing to go on record as fighting state-sponsored racism in K-12 classrooms will demonstrate a level of NC lawmaker obtuseness previously unseen. Conservatives in the political sphere are often considered disconnected from the will of “We the People”.(8) Ignoring the necessity of moving HB324 will only confirm that account. At an Orange County GOP event on June 10th, Republican State Superintendent of Education, Catherine Truitt, suggested that HB324 was held up for fear of compromising the move of Apple and Google to NC. (I attended that meeting and heard her say this in person; I thought it a very believable statement). She later retracted her statement, writing that she was mistaken, and the Senate will not “bend to the whims” of Big Tech (June 13, 2021).(9) Yet I find it hard to believe her retraction, as State Senate Republicans have yet to advance HB324. The failure to bring HB324 to the governor’s desk confirms a narrative that our Republican representatives care more about crony corporatism than the will of the people and protection of civil rights.
Of course, there exist the standard progressive arguments against HB324: it prevents the teaching of accurate history and imposes upon free speech. These are non-sensical assertions. The bill focuses on K-12 education. K-12 public education is much different from university studies. Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and contributor to the National Association of Scholars discusses this difference when it comes to legislating for civil rights in classrooms:
Free speech is deeply different between higher education and K-12. In higher education we do have a formal notion of academic freedom....K-12 is different. Teachers have free-speech rights...at a public event. But when teachers are teaching, when they are delivering a curriculum, they don’t have strong free speech rights at that moment. At that moment they are responsible, and rightly so, to convey the curriculum as it has been decided on by the state and local schooldistrict. That is what makes it possible to have legislation that makes it possible to say ‘you should teach this and you should not teach that’....It would be a bad idea to stop teachers from even discussing the core concepts of Critical Race Theory....You should not inculcate these concepts, you should not propagandize for these concepts or teach them on the premise they are true, but you can discuss them.(10)
As Stanley Kurtz discusses, legislation to prevent proselytizing or indoctrinating K-12 students in ideologies, (compelling individuals to agree that one is inherently racist by virtue of one’s race, for example) does not infringe on a teacher’s free speech claims. Legislation like HB324 protects curriculum as determined by the state and local governments, ensuring that teachers and hired consultants do not deviate so far beyond curricula as to infringe upon civil rights. That this legislation prevents discussion of ideas is fallacy. I argue HB324 will promote robust debates in history classes, as students will not be inculcated with divisive personal ideologies presented as fact. Historical and current events can be
discussed and debated, but not to the point where teachers or students are held responsible for historical actions committed by members of the same sex or race. The NCDPI outlines a teacher code of ethics.(11) Part II B of this code enumerates the need for teachers to accept diverse views of students, parents, and colleagues: teachers “will not proselytize for personal viewpoints outside their scope of practice.” Is this code of ethics a violation of free speech? No, this is common sense ethics for public educators K-12. While it may be unfortunate that North Carolinians need legislation to reinforce this concept in a legal manner, the need never-the-less exists.
Already Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have passed legislation to protect rights in the K-12 setting.(12) Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, proposed a rule passed by the Board of Education that prevents distortion of historical events, and that America is defined largely by the “universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence”.(13) There is significant precedence for HB324, and North Carolina legislators need to be on record supporting this measure. Model legislation has been developed and critically praised. The National Association of Scholars approves of “The Partisanship Out of Civics Act”.(14) The non-profit organization for which I volunteer, No Left Turn in Education, also developed model legislation for K-12 educational rights, which I will attach to this letter. If state senators believe that HB324 needs alterations, then I implore these legislators to review this model legislation for potential incorporation into North Carolina’s own bill.
Recently Senator Berger published a tweet demonstrating that CRT is indeed in schools, as evidenced by Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools hiring Ibram X. Kendi to speak at a district event.(15) Meanwhile, HB324 languishes in the Senate. I call upon Senator Berger to follow through on his criticism of CRT in schools and protect teacher and student rights by bringing HB324 to the floor for debate. Our state legislators need to vote on record in fighting state-sponsored racial incitement in the K-12 classroom. “We the People” demand it.
Nancy C. Andersen, MD
Chapter Head, North Carolina
No Left Turn in Education
1 https://christopherrufo.com/critical-race-theory-in-education/ 2 https://nsjonline.com/article/2021/04/legislators-equity-coaching-organization-involved-in-wake-county-schools-critical- race-theory-course/ 3 https://www.weare-nc.org/mission 4 https://www.edfirstnc.org/post/exclusive-foreign-money-funding-critical-race-theory-in-north-carolina-s-public-schools 5 https://ladyliberty1885.com/2020/09/05/records-whiteness-in-ed-spaces-wcpss-edcamp-equity-2020/ 6 https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/civil-rights-reimagining-policing/a- lesson-on-critical-race-theory/
8https://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/june_2021/half_of_gop_voters_believe_party _leaders_aren_t_conservative_enough 9 https://www.facebook.com/CatherineTruittNC/ 10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX62sEgO0Bk (Minute 20 mark) 11 https://sites.google.com/dpi.nc.gov/ncees-information-and-resource/teachers?authuser=0 12 https://christopherrufo.com/crt-tracker/ 13 https://www.foxnews.com/us/florida-board-education-critical-race-theory 14 https://www.nas.org/blogs/article/the-partisanship-out-of-civics-act 15 https://twitter.com/SenatorBerger/status/1407743251398987780 (June 23, 2021)