RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Senate passed a bill Thursday impacting how racism and history are talked about in classrooms, as Republicans accuse some teachers of trying to indoctrinate kids.
The 25-17 vote on the bill was strictly on party lines as Republicans raise concerns about critical race theory in classrooms.
“The purpose of this bill is to put in place guardrails to protect against the most extreme forms of indoctrination,” said Republican Senate leader Phil Berger. “It is one part of a larger movement. The success of that movement will come from shining a light on this doctrine in our institutions.”
Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford) criticized a report earlier this week by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R), which outlined various claims of indoctrination occurring.
Some people wrote to a task force he formed about the issue, calling attention to books and lesson plans they found inappropriate. One person said their child was told to feel ashamed for being white and Christian.
“They see teachers who care about them. These teachers aren’t indoctrinating. That’s a bunch of political lies,” Sen. Robinson said. “Indoctrination is fake news. As a matter of fact, it’s more than that. It’s a bold-faced lie.”
The bill the Senate passed does not mention critical race theory but rather blocks schools from promoting 13 concepts.
Some of them include: the United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex, that one race or sex is inherently superior to another, and that the United States government should be violently overthrown.
“It is definitely needed because you have folks showing up at school board meetings concerned about what may be happening in the classroom,” said Berger.
The vote comes as Republican-led legislatures across the country take action on bills related to critical race theory.
Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake) dismissed the effort in North Carolina as “Fox News-driven fear-mongering.”
Though the bill does not include penalties for anyone who does not comply with it, some Democrats questioned if it would lead to teachers censoring themselves and avoiding talking about certain parts of history.
“If this bill becomes law whose stories will not be heard?” asked Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham). “He who remembers not the past, shall be condemned to repeat it.”
Berger countered those assertions, saying, “The opponents of the bill have to mischaracterize it.”
Sen. Robinson questioned why Republicans spent time on the issue when the state still does not have a budget enacted nearly two months into the fiscal year.
“We’ve got a budget to pass. We need to make sure that we give the resources here and stop doing bills that don’t have substance. This doesn’t have any substance,” she said.