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NC House Passes Bill Seeking to Control How Educators Can Teach About History, Race, Gender

Source:  Editorial Staff

House Republicans passed House Bill 187 along party lines last week as they continue their assault on public education in North Carolina.

The legislation, ironically titled the “Equality in Education” bill, would censor how North Carolina educators teach their students about 13 specific concepts, such as race and gender, and would silence Black, brown, and LGBTQ+ voices and stories in the classroom.

In an editorial for The News & Observer, Democratic State Sen. Dan Blue (Wake) summarized the bill and its impact by calling HB 187 “a covert way to flatten our state’s history into a one-dimensional, easy-to-swallow pill, leaving no room for the triumphs and victories of people who fought hardest for the democracy and society we have today.”

Bills like HB 187 are simply another way that Republicans are trying to use our public schools to further divide our communities along racial and political lines. Students should be taught about the good and bad parts of American history, not given a sanitized retelling where conflicts are glossed over or ignored entirely. America is not unique in its history of horrors, but we are unique in how many of our schools feel the need to protect children from those truths.

One of the most absurd concepts that schools aren’t allowed to “promote” under HB 187 is one that says “Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.”

What Republicans mean by that is that they want to erase Black voices and history from classrooms because learning about our state and country’s disgusting treatment of Black people – both in the past and still today – might make white children feel guilty.

“The decision to erase Black voices and experiences in our public school classrooms, to censor our school curriculums and expunge the history of those who are ‘other’ is an absolutely chilling one,” wrote Kim Biondi, retired English and Language Arts teacher from Cabarrus County, in a recent editorial. “Legislation like House Bill 187 and Senate Bill 49 are examples of measures that will strip away opportunities for our students to be successful, for our students to be equipped with the tools to understand what’s happening in the world, how it impacts others around them, and how they can help foster change for a better future.”

Republicans also like to refer to the teaching of topics they don’t like as attempted “indoctrination” by teachers and schools. Blue addressed that in his editorial.

“Republicans like to say teaching Black history is indoctrination, but in the past few months, we’ve seen what true indoctrination looks like: mass shootings and violent hate crimes. If we try to cover up our history, we’re doomed to repeat this endless cycle of hate,” he wrote.

What HB 187 is truly about is power – the power for Republicans to dictate what history is taught to our children and how it’s taught.

HB 187 isn’t about equal education. It is about erasing the parts of our state’s history that makes some people uncomfortable,” Blue wrote. “It is about over-policing an already underfunded education system that is facing attacks on all sides. It is about scoring political points at the cost of our children’s education and their understanding of the world.”

The legislation is now in a Senate committee and has not been put up for a vote yet in that chamber.

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