The North Carolina Board of Education has passed a new set of standards for teaching social studies that will include language on a more diverse perspective of history.
The new teachings will include a prospective on racism and discrimination, along with identifying group oppressed in society. A first for the Tar Heel State as other states in the country are starting to implement more accurate accounts of historical events into their lesson plans.
Although, the new standard does not include the word “systemic” before racism and discrimination, or the word “gender” before identity. A very specific set of words removed by State Board Superintendent Catherine Truitt to allow a 7-5 passage on Thursday.
“For nearly two years, the Department has worked to create consensus among hundreds of educators and stakeholders statewide over the history standards. I’m disappointed there was not a unanimous vote on these standards today because the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education created them to be both inclusive and encompassing,” Truitt said.
She added in the preamble “The North Carolina Board of Education believes that our collective social studies standards must reflect the nation’s diversity and that the successes, contributions, and struggles of multiple groups and individuals should be included.”
It went on to say, “Our human failings have at times taken the form of racism, xenophobia, nativism, extremism, and isolationism. We need to study history in order to understand how these situations developed, the harmful impact they caused, and the forces and actors that sometimes helped us move beyond these outcomes.”
Now, schools will be required to teach students the hard truths built into American society, such as Native American oppression, the establishment of land grant universities, slavery, anti-Catholicism, white extremism, exploitation of child labor and Jim Crow laws.
While a step in the right direction, we're failing our students by not talking about these issues systematically or intersectionality and erasing the complexity of systems of oppression. This version also reduces "gender identity" to simply "identity."https://t.co/1emyEBGg4r
— Equality NC (@equalitync) February 4, 2021
The measure was opposed by GOP members of the State Board, including Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who believes we don’t live in a systemically racist nation and the new standard cast a negative light on our history.
“To call our system of government racist, that is an untruth as far as I’m concerned I truly believe that is an untruth as far as history is concerned and it does a disservice to our students. It puts the idea in the mind of our children that they live in a nation that has promoted racism,” Robinson said prior to the vote.
Because of his beliefs, the first Black lieutenant governor of the state was depicted as a Klansman in a cartoon published on WRAL’s website earlier this week. Robinson questioned the motives of the cartoonist, Dennis Draughon, who also serves as an eighth grade school teacher.
“It points to exactly what we’re talking about. This is an individual who, of course, is in favor of these standards. In a cartoon, that gave up a microcosmic of how history can be rewritten in the classroom, Robinson said on WBT’s Pat McCrory Show with Bo Thompson Thursday.
“If This man is willing to put this out as his public opinion on a news station the size of WRAL, what is he telling his students in the classroom? That is the danger here and we need to make sure we set standards to allow teachers to tell the entire truth.
“Because let’s get it straight, there are things in this country’s past that we need to explain to our children and teach them about slavery and Jim Crow and how women we’re allowed to vote until the 1920’s. We need to explain those things and how they happened.”
Gov. Roy Cooper’s press secretary, Dory MacMillan, released a statement on the new standards on Thursday.
“The Governor supports the new standards proposed by educators and believes learning our history accurately is an important part of education. It is important to teach students to be critical thinkers, and that includes educating them honestly about our great country’s history that includes injustices that linger still today,” the statement said.
The N.C. Public School system will work with the board on implementing the new standards soon.