RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Republican leaders in the North Carolina Senate on Wednesday filed a new update to a bill that would regulate how racism and antidiscrimination is taught in public schools.
A previous version of House Bill 324 already passed the House, but Senators offered a substitute bill with more guidance on 13 specific concepts and ideas that schools and teachers would be outlaws from "promoting."
"Children must learn about our state's racial past and all of its ugliness, including the cruelty of slavery to the 1898 Wilmington massacre to Jim Crow," Senate President Phil Berger (R-Rockingham County) said. "But students must not be forced to adopt an ideology that is separate and distinct from history. Call the doctrine that underlies this transformation what you will: Critical Race Theory; neoracism; illiberalism; Successor Ideology. Its substance has taken root among America's elites and institutions, and efforts are being made to incorporate it into K-12 education."
What's become known as Critical Race Theory is a set of ideas that date back to the 1970s when a group of researchers and college professors began writing a series of essays on racism in America. Essentially, the theory's central thesis is that race is a social invention made up by white people to suppress people of color. And, it says, that the United States has, through federal laws, preserved the unequal treatment of people based on their race.
While not specifically naming the theory, the bill certainly refers to it and considers the teachings "discriminatory," and forbids public schools to compel students "to affirm or profess belief in"13 such concepts, including:
Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake County Democrat, denounced the law as suppressing free speech.
"At the end of the day the bill to me constitutes a speech code," Chaudhuri said. "It's censorship and it's going to insert the state General Assembly into what's going to be taught and not taught."
Governor Roy Cooper on Wednesday also blasted the proposal, telling ABC11: "Let's stop injecting calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education and start making real investments that ensure a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every school. After this pandemic and the loss of learning that has occurred, let's have a bipartisan focus of time, energy and investment on making sure our children can read, learn math and get a quality, accurate education."
Though Cooper is thus sure to veto the bill if it comes to his desk, Republicans are vowing to put the issue to the voters in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment - something not subject to a governor's veto.