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Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican who told the school board he had 28,000 signatures on a petition against the social studies changes (Screen shot from ncleg.gov)

The Democrat-controlled N.C. State Board of Education approved Thursday, Feb. 4, a sweeping rewrite of the state’s social studies standards that will now teach nearly every aspect of American history through the lens of racism and discrimination. 

The changes were approved over the strong objections of several Republican board members, who decried the new standards as overly negative and divisive. They said they don’t wish to whitewash history, but believe it’s important to teach children to have pride in their country for its achievements and advancement.

The vote came a day after a long and heated debate over the tone of the proposed changes that left neither side happy.

“These standards are divisive, and there are still serious questions around them,” said Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican who told the board he had 28,000 signatures on a petition against the changes. In the petition, Robinson described the standards as “political in nature” and said they “paint America as being systematically racist” while undermining unity.

Board members on the left pushed for the standards to go further in moving away from traditional American history education.

“The flawless, exceptionalist characterization is well-represented in our education and has been historically,” said James Ford, a former N.C teacher of the year from Charlotte. “There’s a new America emerging that is browner, that is in many ways younger, more diverse.”

The standards outline the broad topics and themes that teachers must cover at every grade level, K-12, in North Carolina’s public schools. They’re not curriculum, and don’t dictate the specific events to be studied and books to be read. That will come later.

The new standards add a particular focus on “indigenous, religious, gender and racial groups” as early as the second grade. They also redefine racism, moving away from personal prejudice and toward a “complex system of racial hierarchies and inequities.”

The changes have been nearly two years in the making and have gone through multiple drafts. More than 7,000 people submitted comments on the proposals.

Back in July, the State Board of Education voted to delay adopting any revisions to the social studies curriculum until more work could be done. 

The debate soon grew from an academic discussion into a volatile political battle. WRAL’s editorial board even took the step of portraying opponents of the changes, including Robinson, as KKK members in a controversial cartoon.

Over the past few weeks, board chairman Eric Davis and new State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt appear to have been trying to find more common ground. That includes softening some of the most controversial language that had been proposed.

The latest version of the standards replaces references to “systemic racism” with just “racism” and “gender identity” to simply “identity.” 

Truitt also penned a new preamble to the social studies standards approved by the board that seeks to walk a tightrope between the two sides.

“Let us study the past such that all students can celebrate our achievements towards a more perfect union while acknowledging that the sins of our past still linger in the everyday lives of many,” Truitt writes in a proposed preamble to the standards. “Let us study the past so we can understand where it might lead us today.”

(22) comments

OuiserBoudreaux

So disgusting and unacceptable. Thankful for Mr Robinson for standing up against the 'new' curriculum that is trying to be quietly put in place in the public school system. History is not all butterflies and rainbows and that can not be changed. The party of tolerance, peace and acceptance, as long as you agree with their agenda- Do as I say, not as I do....

drewski

The Lt Gov. wears what has become a uniform of sorts, red tie white shirt and blue blazer. His moral outrage knows no bounds." How dare they suggest there is racism in america, and if there ever was it was democrats"

mpjeep

Seems like Dems wanting to teach anti-American stuff to our kids and is totally unacceptable.

Where does teaching the progress made with respect to racism in this country come into play?

I hope they teach that Martin Luther King wanted his kids judged on their character and not the color of their skin, since BLM wants just the opposite.

I can’t see what the apparel of Mr. Robinson has to do with education?

drewski

Not sure when the truth became anti-american. Certainly the truth has taken a beating the last 4 years. You need look no further then Marjorie Taylor Green to see how far the gop has fallen.

mpjeep

MTG might just well be the first female President. Very smart lady.

David Collins

Looks like he is wearing business attire , as he should . After all , he came to Raleigh to get some business done . Guess if you can’t find fault just say he dresses funny . Worked in grade school , didn’t it ?

drewski

Actually I can find fault, starting with his holier then thou whining, faux outrage, and general pandering. I did not say he dresses funny, i suggested it was a uniform of sorts, frequently seen in the last 4 yrs on prominent republicans, with the obligatory flag label pin. It brings to mined the revolting flag clutching and kissing of a well known draft dodger. patriotism like religion is best, most honestly expressed by deed, not attire or empty words.

David Collins

Nothing false about his outrage . Just mirrors that of his constituents . As it should . This gentleman probably knows far more of the systemic racism than you or I ever will . Systemic racism is the buzzword of the moment , is it not ?

drewski

Interesting a black man who says there is no systemic racism knows "far more" then you or I.

May we then infer that a black man who says the opposite knows far less?

I find it interesting that race/ethnicity is somehow important when folks agree, and unmentioned when they disagree. Today's editoria, the 3rd recently on school choice illustrates this quite clearly. Unnamed Democrats in favor.. republican Named and ID'd as a Lumbee. Somehow race/ ethniticy confers credibility when they agree, it matters not at all if they disagree? How odd.

mpjeep

Can anyone really define systemic racism? I can't, probably because it doesn't exist.

drewski

I tried to explain systematic racism months ago. The usual posters declined to consider it. A system is a group of interconnected events, that when taken as a whole in context have impact on a group. The denial of home/farm/education loans to group b, and approval of those same loans to group w from say 1950 to 1980, led to higher rates of home ownership among group W then group B. Home ownership confers equity, and accumulating wealth, on one group but not the other. Same with education and farm loans. Many ppl seem find it easier to deny uncomfortable truths.

mpjeep

Research shows that the denial of home loans for minorities is because of their debt-to-income ratio, poor credit history and small amount of money for down payments.

And we all should know that the smaller amount of money you have for a down payment translates to higher mortgage rates.

Among recent borrowers an estimated home foreclosure rates of 8% for minorities vs. 4% for whites.

Sounds like good business sense to me.

drewski

If thats what you need to tell yourself, that's fine. The larger question of why minorities have such lower scores and therefore opportunities seems to have escaped in the fog of easy explanations that confirm what you want / need to beleive.

David Collins

We are all racists ! Big deal , nothing new . This subject is getting long in the tooth and serves no useful purpose .

drewski

If you change racist to tribalism I would agree 100%. My family is more important to me then your family. When things are good ppl are too. When things start getting tough, well..examples abound from ppl buying up more toilet paper then their family could use in a yr during a pandemic, to prisioners self segregating by racial or ethnic groups. In a pinch you look after your own first. That is human nature.

David Collins

Goes beyond that drew . Just look to Mother Nature , the birds and the bees . Robins do not nest with blue birds , nor do cardinals nest with crows . Insects seek out others of their kind to bundle with and rabbits seldom cuddle with foxes . Humans are the only breakers of the prime directive of the natural order of things and it shows . The prime directive has worked rather well over the years and more should take note of that .

drewski

That argument is flawed since we are all the same species...

(Edited by staff.)

mpjeep

All you have to do is see what the Great Emancipation Proclamator Lincoln said.

David Collins

Nothing flawed about that . Race applies to humans only so let’s get that out of the way . Species refers to those that can mate and produce offspring . Preservation of the species pushes only those of the same type , ie bluebirds with bluebirds and so forth to be fruitful an multiply . Not saying that they can not and have not crossed the line , with or without some form of intervention but to do so is not the natural order of things . Seems like only we humans are bent on breaking that rule .

David Collins

Oh ! In answer to your question about minorities having lower opportunities , lower scores and lower this and that . Not all minorities share those shortcomings . It quite often appears that attitude makes all the difference ...Just an observation and not a condemnation as a whole .

(Edited by staff.)

drewski

If only " those ppl" today could adjust their attitudes then grandpa could have got a fha or usda loan in 1971. Got it , thanks!

JusticeForAll

The "natural order of things" is not scientific, therefore it has no meaning other than a philosophic view. To try and have that as an explanation is baseless. Most history is/has been distorted, biased, and inaccurate, including racial history. To bring in perspective and more accurate information we have to update and move forward. These changes were long overdue.

And anyone supporting MTG should do some research. One word: revolting.

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