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Education

Gov Vetoes North Carolina Bill Limiting K-12 Racial Teaching

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Kate Medley
/
For WUNC
Rodney Pierce teaches social studies at Red Oak Middle School in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The North Carolina House gave final approval last week to House Bill 324, which is being framed by supporters as against the teaching of Critical Race Theory. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has rejected a bill to limit how teachers can discuss certain racial concepts inside the classroom. The proposal would have prohibited teachers from compelling students to personally adopt any ideas from a list of 13 beliefs.

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed two bills on Friday that would have limited how public school teachers can discuss certain racial concepts and raised penalties on those who engage in violent protests.

The vetoed education bill was part of a national effort by Republicans in more than two dozen states to combat views they associated with "critical race theory," a framework legal scholars developed in the 1970s and 1980s that centers on the belief that racism is systemic in the nation's institutions and maintains the dominance of whites in society.

GOP lawmakers across the country have used "critical race theory" and "indoctrination" as catchall phrases to describe racial concepts they find objectionable, including white privilege, systemic inequality and inherent bias. Republican governors in eight states have signed bills or budgets into law banning the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools or limiting how teachers can discuss racism and sexism.

Why Documents matter
Kate Medley
Valencia Abbott teaches social studies at Rockingham Early College High School. The North Carolina House gave final approval Wednesday to House Bill 324, which is being framed by supporters as against the teaching of Critical Race Theory. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill.

North Carolina's bill would have prevented educators from compelling students to personally adopt any of 13 beliefs, and it was the focus of heated debate in the legislature.

Cooper said Friday that the measure would have inserted politics into education.

"The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education," he said in a news release announcing the veto.

ValenciaAbbott_4684.jpg
Kate Medley
Valencia Abbott displays a photo of Zora Neale Hurston - one of her heroes - in her classroom at Rockingham Early College High School. The North Carolina House gave final approval Wednesday to House Bill 324, which is being framed by supporters as against the teaching of Critical Race Theory. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill.

Top Republican lawmakers in North Carolina said House Bill 324 sought to reveal questionable classroom activities and respond to parents' frustrations over how teachers and school districts operate. But Republicans, who did not appear to have sufficient votes to override the Democratic governor's veto, have not identified a single case of alleged "indoctrination" that the North Carolina measure would have prevented.

State Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican, issued a statement Friday decrying Cooper's move.

"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," he said.

The other vetoed measure would have allowed business owners to sue individuals who damaged their property for three times the actual damages they incurred, charged those who assault emergency responders with a more serious felony, even if nobody was physically injured, and jail those charged with rioting or looting for up to 48 hours without bond.

Valencia Abbott
Kate Medley
Valencia Abbott teaches social studies at Rockingham Early College High School. The North Carolina House gave final approval Wednesday to House Bill 324, which is being framed by supporters as against the teaching of Critical Race Theory. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill.

While Republicans believed the measure would hold rioters and looters accountable and better keep the public and law enforcement safe, Democrats and civil rights groups thought the punishments outlined in the bill were excessive and could deter people from taking to the streets to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly.

Cooper said Friday that people who commit crimes during riots should be prosecuted under existing laws and that the legislation was unnecessary.

The governor signed nine other bills, including measures meant to improve the rights of foster parents and protect the rights of pregnant women who are incarcerated.

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