The governor's rejection of House Bill 324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools, was expected.
"The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools," Cooper said Friday. "Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education."
What's become known as Critical Race Theory is a set of ideas that date at least 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 non-Whites. 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 refers to it and considers the teachings "discriminatory," and forbids public schools to compel students "to affirm or profess belief in"13 such concepts.
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"It's perplexing that Gov. Cooper would veto a bill that affirms the public school system's role to teach students the full truth about our state's sometimes ugly past," said Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. "His invented excuse is so plainly refuted by the text of the bill that I question whether he even read it."
The legislation would have directed public schools not to compel students "to affirm or profess belief in" several discriminatory concepts, including:
- That 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;
- An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
- A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist;
- Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex.
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"More broadly, Democrats' choice to oppose a bill saying schools can't force kids to believe one race is superior to another really shows how far off the rails the mainstream Democratic Party has gone," Berger said.
Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake County Democrat, in a previous interview with ABC11, denounced the bill 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."
Republicans have previously said they will look to put the issue to the voters in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment - something not subject to a governor's veto.
"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," House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said.
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