Monday, July 15, 2024

Brunswick school board passes policy to prevent ‘bias in teaching,’ ban critical race theory

School systems across the country are reckoning with critical race theory, which conservatives oppose being taught in public schools. (Port City Daily/File photo)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY –– The Brunswick County Board of Education unanimously passed a revised employee policy that bans teaching critical race theory in school without the express permission of the board.

The move is the latest amid a nationwide culture war against the theory, arising from concerns it is being taught to young students in public schools. 

RELATED: Opposing political groups spar over critical race theory, transgender rights at school board meeting

Though multi-layered, critical race theory examines how racism is not confined to individual prejudices and is instead systemic and ingrained in institutions. Proponents of the theory say it factually frames the country’s founding and current state of affairs compared to white-washed teachings through a colonial lens. Opponents believe teaching it in schools is divisive and indoctrinates children early on to hate the color of their skin. 

A few public speakers at the school board’s meeting Tuesday decried the use of the theory, one describing it as “dehumanizing propaganda.”

School board member Robin Moffitt told the speakers she agreed with their sentiments wholeheartedly. “I’m almost shaking inside when I hear people talking about critical race theory,” she said. “It’s very upsetting to me to know that our children are being indoctrinated. My heart was pounding when you guys were talking. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think anybody should be made to feel different for the color of their skin, whether you’re white, black, brown, or yellow.”

The policy amendments are a way to combat misinformation, board member Steven Barger said. 

Couched in an “employee political activity” policy, the amendments expand on what type of information can and cannot be presented in the classroom. As amended, teachers may only present factual information about controversial or political problems and present both sides, supported with primary or balanced secondary sources. They may not discuss any social theories of any kind, the policy states, including critical race theory, the 9/11 theory (presumably a reference to the conspiracy theory that the Sept. 11 attacks were consented to and/or planned by the U.S.), and Holocost denial theory. 

Barger said individuals can use the district’s anonymous reporting system to address instances of “biased teaching,” similar to how the system is used to report bullying. 

The topic first came up after the N.C. Department of Public Instruction approved new social studies standards in February. The final draft dropped all references to “systemic” racism and discrimination and removed “gender” from references to gender identity. 

After little discussion, the board passed the policy unanimously.

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