Changes to social studies standards historical perspective spark heated discussion

New North Carolina social studies standards will be incorporated in the classroom after a vote of the Moore County Board of Education Monday at their regular meeting. A proposed board policy to ban Critical Race Theory, an intensely emotional issue, was turned down.

The North Carolina standard course of study for social studies is intended to engage students with rigorous academic courses inclusive of multiple ideas, viewpoints and perspectives, according to local education officials. 

Earlier this year, N.C. Board of Education approved a revision to the social studies standards taught in all grade levels. The new standards, that are more inclusive of minorities, will teach students about systemic discrimination. That has prompted a heated debate on both sides of the issue.   

The vote to move ahead with the new social studies standard was 6-0, with board member Robert Levy abstaining. Teachers and staff will now develop a local curriculum that satisfies the state’s requirement that it be aligned with the new Standard Course of Study in social studies.

Critical Race Theory

Also discussed last night was a proposed board policy to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory. 

Critical Race Theory is an academic term that some see as a fact-based way of teaching history that recognizes discrimination and oppression. Others see it as a form of Marxism and will indoctrinate children. 

Changes to social studies standards historical perspective spark discussion

Speaking on a board policy that would have banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory, Board Chair Libby Carter said, “This policy is unnecessary. It is a Trojan horse that will open the door to further limitations on teacher and staff autonomy. Will we ban the Theory of Evolution next? Or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?” Carter went on to say, “This policy will open the door to micromanagement of the classroom, and we do not want to do this. For these reasons, I do not think this is an appropriate reason for a policy.”

“My belief is that this is absolutely necessary for us to pass. Critical Race Theory is, I believe, a cancer on education,” said Levy. “It is not something we want to get involved with here in Moore County. I know that almost everyone on this board has said they are against CRT, but this gives us the opportunity to put it into policy.”  

The measure that would have created a school board policy banning Critical Race Theory failed on a 4-3 vote, with board members Levy, Holmes and Hensley voting in favor of the motion.

Public Address to the Board

Speaker after speaker, 47 in all, rose to take their turn at offering comments lasting not more than the allowed three minutes in front of the board of education as more than 100 spectators filled the room of the Historic Courthouse in Carthage. The often-timed impassioned comments opposing and supporting the teaching of Critical Race Theory were followed by cheers, applause and a display of signs. Only after Carter repeated instructions for the outbursts to stop did they end.

Changes to social studies standards historical perspective spark heated discussion at meeting

A long line of people waiting to get into the building formed a line in front of the courthouse before the meeting. Many in the crowd carried hand-made signs with support of teachers and public education.

The meeting was held at the courthouse rather than the normal location at the central office. The move to the larger meeting space was made to accommodate the number of people that were expected during the public comment period. The next meeting of the board of education will be a work session at the office. 

Old Aberdeen Elementary School Property

The board voted to allow school officials to explore the possibility of a direct sale of the former Aberdeen Elementary site to the Town of Aberdeen for fair market value within the next six months. Staff and legal counsel now have six months to work out a purchase agreement.

Code of Cooperation

Also approved last night was a revision of the school board policy intended to make clear the expectations of board members. A section to the policy now states “Always act in the best interests of Moore County Schools’ students, staff, parents and guardians and the residents of Moore County.” Removed from the previously approved policy where the words “Endeavor to” and added was the word staff.

Other sections of the code of cooperation include: Treat Board members, staff, and the public with respect, modeling the behaviors we want for ourselves and others. And, listen respectfully to each other, not engaging in side conversations.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.

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