Bill countering Critical Race Theory passed by House Education Committee

North Carolina State Legislative Building

RALEIGH — On May 11, the House Education Committee approved a bill seeking to address increasing concerns about controversial Critical Race Theory in North Carolina’s K-12 classrooms.

House Bill 324 was originally a bill to deal with moving the state’s public charter schools to Plan A. A preferred committee substitute (PCS) has replaced the original language and changed the bill’s title to “Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools.”

“No student or school employee should be made to feel inferior solely because of the color of their skin or their gender,” Chairman Torbett (R-Gaston) said in a statement. “Our public schools should be a place of respect—not hateful ideologies.”

The new bill prohibits the promotion of certain concepts tied to Critical Race Theory (CRT), a belief with Marxist roots that holds racism is constant and inherent in all people and institutions. CRT views all facets of society through a racial lens, dividing people into oppressed and oppressor categories by race.

The bill has the backing of House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain).

In a tweet announcing the bill, Moore said that “Schools should be places of dignity and respect for ALL students and teachers. That’s why the N.C. House Education Committee passed legislation today to address Critical Race Theory and other hateful ideas that are attacking our kids.”

Moore tweeted that he expects the bill to pass the House by the end of the week.

N.C. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt also gave her support to the legislation.

“This is a common-sense bill that provides reasonable expectations for the kind of civil discourse we want our children to experience in public schools. This “golden rule” approach ensures that all voices are valued in our school system,” Truitt said in the statement.

Truitt continued, “We want to encourage students to think freely and respect differences of opinions, while ensuring our classrooms are not promoting ideas contrary to the equality and rights of all. Classrooms should be an environment where all points of view are honored. There is no room for divisive rhetoric that condones preferential treatment of any one group over another.”

According to the bill analysis document for the PCS, schools in the state would be prohibited from promoting the idea that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex or that based only a person’s race that that individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

“The House Education committee has already pursued legislation to increase transparency for parents,” said Chairman Blackwell (R- Burke) in the press release. “This legislation ensures that tax dollars are spent to educate our students and not on distracting political projects.”

The bill takes aim at a key CRT tenet, the United States is “a meritocracy” or that the nation was founded by members of a particular race or sex “to oppress members of another race or sex.”

Additionally, HB 324 prohibits promotion of concepts that create discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress for any individual “solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.”

In a press release announcing the bill change, North State Journal’s reporting on CRT training in Wake County Public Schools was cited. That article cited training conducted by a company called The Equity Collaborative, founded and run by current General Assembly legislator Graig Meyer (D-Durham). The Equity Collaborative also appears to have conducted training in Loudon County, Virginia, where parents have mounted a campaign to recall the local school board.

A second article following the initial report detailed talking points and denial of CRT-infused teacher training in the district by the head of the Wake County Office of Equity Affairs, Rodney Trice. Following publication, it was announced Trice was leaving Wake County and returning to Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools as the director of equity in that district.

On the national level, North Carolina Congressman Dan Bishop (R-09) said that he will be holding a press conference in Washington, D.C. on May 12 at 2 p.m. to introduce legislation to keep “Critical Race Theory out of our schools, federal workforce, and the military.”

The Biden administration has drawn criticism for a new rule inserting CRT elements into the way history and civics are taught. On April 19, the Biden’s Department of Education submitted the new rule to the Federal Register. The proposed rule uses as an example the controversial and historically inaccurate “1619 Project.” It also quotes “antiracist activist” Ibram X. Kendi to support inserting “anti-racist practices into teaching and learning” on a national scale.

Joining Bishop for the legislation introduction are Former OMB Director and President of Citizens for Renewing America Russ Vought, Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Rep. Ted Budd (NC-13), Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Rep Andy Biggs (AZ-05), and Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-05).