This story originally published online at NC Policy Watch.
A bill filed by Republicans on Thursday would prevent educators from promoting Critical Race Theory to students (CRT). House Bill 187 is like a bill filed by Republicans in 2021 that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed.
CRT is an academic discipline that examines how racism has shaped the nation’s legal and social systems. Educators say CRT is not taught in America’s K-12 schools.
HB 187 has much of the same language as the previous bill, House Bill 324. It would, for example, prohibit teachers from promoting concepts that suggest America is racist or that people are inherently racist or sexist. It would also prohibit teaching that whites or anyone else are responsible for the sins of their forefathers.
If passed into law, HB 187 would also prevent educators from teaching that an “individual, solely by virtue of` his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
Here’s what Cooper had to say about HB 324 in 2021:
“The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.”
A veto of HB 187 might prove difficult for Cooper this time around. Republicans have enough votes in the Senate to override Cooper. The GOP is one vote short in the House.
According to Education Week, since January 2021, 44 states have introduced bills or taken other steps to restrict teaching critical race theory or limit how teachers discuss racism and sexism.
Educators believe such bills have a chilling effect on what they teach.
Rodney Pierce, a social studies teacher at Red Oak Middle School in Battleboro, noted that bill sponsor Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican, introduced HB 187 during Black History Month.
“The sponsors of this bill have sent the message that they don’t want any discussions of race in the classroom that makes white students uncomfortable,” Pierce said. “However, their ultimate goal is to remove the right to a free public education from the state constitution’s Declaration of Rights, and this is just the latest attempt to get there.”
Durham activist Paul Scott noted that Section 187 of the California Penal Code defines the crime of murder and that the number “one-eight-seven” has become slang for murder.
“That is appropriate since some ‘gangsta’ politicians want to kill the cultural education of Black children,” Scott said.
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