Democrats on the N.C. State Board of Education voted Thursday to drive a political agenda focused on social and cultural engineering designed to tear down America’s greatness with the intention of promoting a more globalist perspective. The result of this decision, combined with the current frustration with the state’s response to schooling during the pandemic, provides additional impetus for parents to consider educational alternatives for their children. (This is not an endeavor unique to North Carolina as George Will notes in his column appearing on the opposite page.)
Despite requests from over 30 thousand petitioners asking the board to delay and reassess a proposed major rewrite of the state’s social studies standards, the seven Democrat members voted to support the changes to be used in designing the state’s public schools curriculum. The five Republican members voted in opposition to the changes.
The dispute centered around terms such as “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination” and a directive to “compare competing narratives of the historical development of the U.S. and North Carolina in terms of how each depicts race, women, tribes, identity, ability and religious groups.” The Democrat proponents defended their support on the grounds that it provides a more “honest” review of history while the Republican board members were concerned about the negative image it will create of the country’s history.
Republican board member Dr. Olivia Oxendine, a Lumbee Indian, acknowledged during a recent interview on the TalkStation WTKF/WJNC, that she supported disclosing the “warts of our history” but she expressed fear that the intense focus on just the country’s failures will overwhelm the successes that are unique to America.
Parents, students and even teachers are already frustrated with the state’s failure to address public education needs during the pandemic. Granted this has been unprecedented event. But because of Governor Cooper’s timid and confusing leadership, along with the absence of interest on the part of the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction, there has been no progress in adjusting the system to create a viable public school program. This has resulted in declining public school enrollment.
A review of the state’s records for Average Daily Membership, the calculation used to determine public school attendance, shows declining enrollment statewide despite continued population growth. Comparing the 2013-14 in school participation to the 2018-19 numbers shows only 13 out of the state’s 100 counties reported increases in enrollment and 12 counties reported static numbers over that same period. Seventy-five counties, including Carteret, Craven and Jones experienced declining enrollments in the comparison of these two periods.
These numbers indicate that parents and students are already leaving the public school system to attend public charter schools, private schools and home schooling. Two of these alternatives are showing unprecedented growth.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, 18,800 N.C. families applied to operate home schools over the past 6 months. Charter school enrollment increased 8% to 109,389 students this year and that number has caught the attention of the State Board of Education. Applications for the creation of charter schools, currently at 184, is rapidly expanding according to Lindalyn Kakadelis, Executive Director of the Coalition for Charter Schools.
Thursday’s board of education decision will only serve to increase distrust in the state’s public school system and its leadership, resulting in further erosion of student enrollments in those schools.
One alternative for parents to gain control of their children’s education is to demand that local school boards ignore the state board’s dictates. But that effort has little chance of success since the state board will determine the standards required for graduation, so teachers will be forced to teach the new social studies curriculum.
The only other option for parents who are opposed to these curriculum changes bordering on political indoctrination is to begin now to determine if they will accept “cultural Marxism” as Mrs. Kakadelis describes the new standards, or will push to emphasize an education that celebrates America’s history of freedom and opportunity.