“This legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools,” Cooper, a Democrat, said in a press release. “Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.”
Proponents of the bill, mostly Republicans, call it the anti-discrimination bill, while many Democrats consider the bill an attack on critical race theory (CRT), also claiming that there is no evidence of it being taught in the North Carolina school system.
CRT is based on the Marxist philosophy that describes society as a class struggle between oppressors and the oppressed, labeling white people as the oppressors and all other races as the oppressed.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican and an outspoken critic of CRT, said in a press release that the bill would have been the first step in combating CRT “being forced upon our children.”
Robinson called Cooper’s reasoning for vetoing the bill “lazy,” and a part of a pattern of “ignoring the issue.”
Robinson had created the Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students task force (F.A.C.T.S.) to gather evidence of CRT in the K-12 school system, he told The Epoch Times last month, which produced the Report on Indoctrination in North Carolina Public Education on Aug. 24 (pdf).
Through an online portal, parents, teachers, and students could anonymously submit evidence from curriculums by email.
In the report, race shaming and allusions to surgical castration in children’s literature—as well as xenophobia against political figures—were among the themes found.
In his Sept. 10 statement on the veto, Robinson said that the report “irrefutably established that there is a clear problem in our state,” and that Cooper’s veto “does a disservice to the teachers, students, and parents across our state who have voiced their concerns.”
“In a letter I presented to the governor, I asked him to share which discriminatory concepts in the bill he believed he should be ‘compelled’ to believe,” Robinson said. “However, in his veto, he chose not to share those details. Governor Cooper should stop playing political games and start serving the people who elected him.”
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said in a press release that House Bill 324 “would have ensured that students of every race would be protected from discrimination in the classroom. I am disappointed that Governor Cooper would block legislation that simply protects students or teachers from being forced to accept the false idea that one race is superior or inferior to another.”
In a press release regarding the veto, Catherine Truitt, the superintendent of The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, said, “Each day, thousands of teachers lead and guide our students, challenging them with robust conversations on difficult topics without ever influencing them using their personal or political beliefs. What we’ve learned throughout this process is that we need parents to continue to play an active role in their children’s education. When and if they have concerns, they should feel empowered to share this with their children’s teacher.”
Debating on the House floor on Sept. 1, Representative James Gailliard, a Democrat, called the bill a form of censorship.
Quoting whom he said was Benjamin Franklin, Gailliard said, “It is absolutely necessary that knowledge of every kind be disseminated.”
The quote is in fact historically attributed to another founding father, Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Continental Congress.
The post-Revolutionary War address was a petition to combat the danger of a reimposed monarchy by creating federal universities that would educate students in history, law, commerce, and war tactics.
“To conform to the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens to our republican forms of government, it is absolutely necessary that knowledge of every kind should be disseminated through every part of the United States,” is the full quote.
However, the question of whether CRT is “knowledge,” or propaganda, continues to be debated among lawmakers and scholars.