RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) released a report Tuesday claiming that some teachers “are abusing” their positions in an effort to indoctrinate kids, as Republican legislators seek to pass a bill dealing with critical race theory in schools.
The report comes months after Robinson formed a task force and asked people to submit examples of indoctrination occurring in schools.
“What this is, is an attempt to stop the abuse of the teaching profession by a few who are using that profession to put undue pressure on young minds,” Robinson said. “Those are the folks that are abusing that privilege, and that is what this is about, about ending that.”
A discussion about the report and the pending bill led to a heated exchange between Robinson and Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake) as the senator questioned whether the submissions to the task force had been verified during a Senate committee meeting Tuesday morning.
“We’re spending time debating a Fox News-driven issue that’s more about fear-mongering and has turned into a fishing expedition,” Chaudhuri said to Robinson.
Robinson pushed back, saying, “The parents, teachers and students of North Carolina demanded it. And to sit here and call it a Fox News-driven issue, when I have stood with teachers who cried because they feel like their jobs and livelihoods and professions have been threatened, for you to call it that is an insult. An absolute insult. And, you know where my office is. And, you know that this task force is going on. When did you contact me? Please don’t turn this into some partisan issue.”
Robinson then left the room as the committee continued debating the bill and heard public comment.
The Associated Press summarized what critical race theory is this way:
“Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. Scholars developed it during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
“It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society.”
Senate Republicans are seeking to pass a bill that would not ban critical race theory from being taught or discussed but rather would bar schools from “promoting” 13 concepts.
The bill defines promoting as “compelling students, teachers, administrators, or other school employees to affirm or profess belief in the concepts described.”
Among those concepts: one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive; and the United States government should be violently overthrown.
Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said the purpose of the bill is to “make sure that information is made available to students but not to promote specific concepts.”
The task force received more than 500 submissions from people. Some of them complained about kids having to read articles in the New York Times or from CNN, calling them biased sources. Others questioned how sexuality was being taught in schools.
Robinson specifically called attention to a book, George, about a transgender child which Robinson said also mentions cutting off male genitalia. Another person said their child was told to feel “ashamed” for being white and Christian.
Many of the submissions also were people criticizing Robinson for even forming the task force in the first place, accusing him of being “misleading” and using his social media platforms to promote “false, manipulative” narratives.
Robinson said “one of the most egregious” examples he had heard was that a student who wanted to write a report on him as a historic figure during Black History Month was told they couldn’t. Robinson is the first Black lieutenant governor in state history. Instead, he said the student was told to write about Tupac Shakur.
Chaudhuri said the bill is part of a national effort among conservatives and said the issues raised in the report can be handled at the local level.
He said it’s “really trafficking in fear-mongering. It’s not based on facts. There are many avenues for parents to pursue if they feel like their children are being indoctrinated.”
The House passed a different version of the bill earlier this year strictly along party lines.
If a bill does get to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, Chaudhuri said he’s confident Cooper will veto it.
Robinson said it was unclear what steps his task force would take next. The report does not recommend “any specific actions or actions.”
“We don’t purport to have any solutions for this problem in this report,” he said.