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North Carolina school board passes strict critical race theory policy

Educators in one North Carolina school district can now be fired if they ‘undermine’ foundational United States documents or teach critical race theory in their classrooms. 

The Johnston County School Board unanimously approved the curriculum policy changes on Friday after county commissioners decided to withhold $7.9 million in district funding.

The all-Republican board of commissioners said they would continue to withhold the funds until a policy was established to ‘eliminate the possibility of CRT – Critical Race Theory – teachings and any other potentially divisive teaching topics.’  

The newly passed policy – a revision to the district’s code of ethics – states that teachers will face disciplinary action if they undermine the U.S. Constitution, describe racism as a permanent aspect of American life or teach that American historical figures weren’t heroes, NBC News reported.

The Johnston County School Board unanimously approved a new ethics policy on Friday that states teachers can be fired if they ‘undermine’ foundational United States documents or teach critical race theory in their classrooms

The code (pictured) explicitly states that 'the United States foundational documents shall not be undermined' and 'all people who contributed to American Society will be recognized and presented as reformists, innovators and heroes to our culture'

The code (pictured) explicitly states that ‘the United States foundational documents shall not be undermined’ and ‘all people who contributed to American Society will be recognized and presented as reformists, innovators and heroes to our culture’

The code explicitly states that ‘the United States foundational documents shall not be undermined’ and ‘all people who contributed to American Society will be recognized and presented as reformists, innovators and heroes to our culture.’

It also states that when ‘discussing a controversial topic’ all staff members should ‘remain neutral and present the information without bias.’  

April Lee, an 8th grade teacher and president of the Johnston County Association of Educators, told CBS 17 that critical race theory was not taught in the district’s classrooms. 

‘I think that there’s some confusion on teaching actual history that reflects the history of all people that live in the United States with critical race theory,’ she said.

Lee also expressed that she disagrees with the policy, arguing that it is ‘basically extortion.’ 

April Lee, an 8th grade teacher and president of the Johnston County Association of Educators, says the policy is 'basically extortion' and accused the school system of 'selling our souls to the devil for $7.9 million'

April Lee, an 8th grade teacher and president of the Johnston County Association of Educators, says the policy is ‘basically extortion’ and accused the school system of ‘selling our souls to the devil for $7.9 million’

‘I think it ties our hands, at least for some teachers, who won’t feel comfortable because they’ll feel like they’ll be called into question,’ Lee said.

She also reportedly accused the school system of ‘selling our souls to the devil for $7.9 million.’ 

However, the Johnston County School Board is applauding those who helped devise the new policy.  

‘We had principals, law enforcement officers, teachers…’ school board member Ronald Johnson said.

‘It was probably the best group of people who could have reviewed this, reviewing this, so I’m very thankful.’ 

Critical race theory has been a hot topic in Johnston County for several months. 

Over the summer, groups of parents took to the streets to protest the theory and issue support for a policy restricting it in schools.

‘CRT teaches that one group oppresses another group of people and white people are bad and people of color are being oppressed and really don’t have the same opportunities but we want equality,’ Dale Lands, protest organizer, told ABC 11 in July.

Lands was joined by dozens of parents who touted signs reading: ‘CRT is racism,’ ‘stop CRT agenda,’ ‘fix the classroom,’ and more. 

Johnston County’s new policy comes just weeks after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill limiting how public school teachers can discuss certain racial concepts in the classroom. 

The policy approval comes after the county commissioners threatened to withhold $7.9 million in district funding until a policy was established to eliminate CRT (Pictured - Top: Chairman Chad M. Stewar, Vice Chairman Larry Wood, Ted G. Godwin, Tony Braswell. Bottom: Fred J. Smith, Jr., Patrick E. Harris, R.S. "Butch" Lawter, Jr.)

The policy approval comes after the county commissioners threatened to withhold $7.9 million in district funding until a policy was established to eliminate CRT (Pictured – Top: Chairman Chad M. Stewar, Vice Chairman Larry Wood, Ted G. Godwin, Tony Braswell. Bottom: Fred J. Smith, Jr., Patrick E. Harris, R.S. “Butch” Lawter, Jr.)

However, critical race theory has been a hot topic in Johnston County for several months. Over the summer, groups of parents took to the streets to protest the theory and issue support for a policy restricting it in schools

However, critical race theory has been a hot topic in Johnston County for several months. Over the summer, groups of parents took to the streets to protest the theory and issue support for a policy restricting it in schools

The vetoed education bill was part of a national effort by conservatives in more than two dozen states to combat views they associated with ‘critical race theory,’ a framework centering on the belief that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and maintains the dominance of whites in society. 

Republican governors in eight states have signed bills or budgets into law banning the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools or limiting how teachers can discuss racism and sexism.

North Carolina’s bill would have prevented educators from compelling students to personally adopt any of 13 beliefs, and it was the focus of heated debate in the legislature.

Cooper said in September that the measure would have inserted politics into education.

‘The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education,’ the governor stated, announcing his veto.

Johnston County's new ethics policy comes just weeks after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (pictured) vetoed a bill limiting how public school teachers can discuss certain racial concepts in the classroom

Johnston County’s new ethics policy comes just weeks after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (pictured) vetoed a bill limiting how public school teachers can discuss certain racial concepts in the classroom 

Critical race theory has become a heated topic of debate in communities across the nation.

Virginia, in particular, has found itself at the center of the controversy with districts including Loudoun County and Fairfax County hitting headlines as parents fight back over transgender rights and anti-racist teachings in public schools. 

In Loudoun County – the most wealthy suburb in America – parents and school board members have gone head to head over several issues in recent months. 

In April, the county announced that they planned to allocate more then $6 million to ‘equity training’ which was met with strong opposition by some parents who claimed the training was part of a CRT push which would lead to students seeing themselves as victims or oppressors, depending on their race.

Parents have been demanding the removal of several members of the school district board while school officials insist that CRT is not on the curriculum pointing to ‘misconceptions and misinformation’ in the media.

In Loudoun County - the most wealthy suburb in America - parents and school board members have gone head to head over several issues in recent months.  (Pictured: Loudoun parents protest at a June 2021 school board meeting meeting)

In Loudoun County – the most wealthy suburb in America – parents and school board members have gone head to head over several issues in recent months.  (Pictured: Loudoun parents protest at a June 2021 school board meeting meeting)

A man is detained after a fight broke out during the Loudoun County School Board meeting on June 22, 2021 which included discussion on critical race theory

A man is detained after a fight broke out during the Loudoun County School Board meeting on June 22, 2021 which included discussion on critical race theory

CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN? 

The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.

The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.

The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.

The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.

Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.

Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.

 

In June, two people were arrested during a school board meeting that descended into chaos amid debates over CRT teachings and a new transgender policy.  

In August, the board voted to approve a policy requiring teachers to call transgender students by their chosen pronouns and for trans children to use the lockerroom and bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.   

Earlier this month, the county launched a study into the possibility of giving reparations to black people after it continue segregating schools until 1968 – 14 years after doing so was deemed unconstitutional.   

Fairfax County in Virginia has also been hit with its fair share of clashes in recent months.  

Calls have been mounting for the removal of one board member Abrar Omeish after she said taking a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of 9/11 terror attacks would cause harm to minorities who faced persecution in its aftermath. 

Omeish, who has previously sparked outrage for alleged anti-Semitic comments and encouraging high schoolers to remember ‘jihad’, voted against the resolution.

She said it was not ‘anti-racist’ and failed to address ‘state-sponsored traumas.’

This came one month after the district was criticized for encouraging students to listen to an audiobook by a non-binary abolitionist suggesting they should not feel safe around police. 

Similar debates around teachings in American schools have rumbled on in recent months – with CRT at the center of much of the uproar. 

CRT highlights how historical inequities and racism continue to shape public policy and social conditions today.  

It has become a key focus on the curriculum of schools over the last year amid the nationwide reckoning for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd.

But it has starkly divided opinion. 

Conservatives allege that students are being taught a warped version of American history that claims the impact of slavery remains present throughout society. 

Critics say the teachings reduce people to ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on skin color.

But supporters say it is vital to understand how race impacts society in order to eliminate racism.


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