JOHNSTON COUNTY N.C. (WNCN) – Even after Johnston County board members approved a change to district policy that mandates teachers stick with North Carolina education standards, dozens of people came to debate how race and history should be taught in schools.
It’s all centered around a recent political hotbed issue, critical race theory.
The theory, which was developed in the 1970s discusses institutionalized racism in America as it relates to minority communities.
Tuesday evening, dozens of protesters stood outside the Johnston County board meeting in an effort, they say, to stop the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms.
“Untrue history is not what we want our children to hear, we want them to hear real history like we’ve heard all of our lives, now some of our history is checkered and some of it’s not great,” said Dale Lands, with the group Citizens Advocates for Accountable Government.
Tamara Barbour, assistant principal of West Johnston High School, said critical race theory is not in her school.
“What we do in the education system is teach what our state department asks us to and we teach the standards, CRT is not in our standards,” Barbour said.
But others, like parent Jill Homan, are not convinced.
“Whether you call it critical race theory or equity or some other name, it’s being taught and it’s being taught to the children,” Homan said.
Tuesday, the Johnston County Board members passed a policy amendment baring teachers from using divisive materials or any social concepts that are not state-approved.
“The policy reinforces that all JCPS teachers will teach based on the standard course of study outlined by the state of North Carolina. The policy states that instructional staff and other school system employees will not utilize methods or materials that would create division or promote animosity among students, staff and the community. Staff shall not teach social theories, outside of North Carolina Standards, of any kind to students unless approved by the North Carolina State Board of Education and legislated by the North Carolina General Assembly,” Johnston County schools spokesperson Caitlin Furr said in a statement.
While critical race theory is not a state standard, the North Carolina State Board of Education recently passed new social studies standards including a more diverse curriculum which are optional for teachers to use and puts the power in districts’ hands to implement.
Barbour said she wants to see a change in history education that includes more diverse points of view.
“I want it to include all perspectives, I want you to talk about the Civil War from everybody’s perspective, not just the south, not just from the north, not just from the white perspective,” Barbour said.
Meanwhile, Lands says he wants the school district to take a clearer opposition to critical race theory.
“We want to make sure that that anti-CRT policy covers everybody, and encompasses the needs of all of the kids and all of the students and all of the parents in Johnston County,” Lands said.