Senate bill seeks to balance political discussions in K-12 classrooms

Districts would be required to post materials for parental inspection

A Marine color guard marches into the Senate chamber during the opening session of the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH — A bill to combat biased political lessons and require balanced political discussions in North Carolina K-12 classrooms has been filed in the N.C. Senate.

Senate Bill 700, titled Balanced Political Discussion in Classrooms, was filed earlier this month and would require the State Board of Education to make sure curriculum and materials “reflect balanced political viewpoints.” The bill does not include any penalties for noncompliance.

Specifically, the bill states that “When the viewpoint of one of the two major political parties in the United States is presented through materials, assignments, lectures, or other instruments for instruction in any classroom or other area of the school, the viewpoint of the alternative political party shall also be presented and given equal weight during the same instructional unit.”

Primary sponsor Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) says this is a bill that he has had in the works for several weeks.

“The impetus [for the bill] is simply that I continue to get reports from concerned parents and students that there is much discussion taking place in classrooms around political opinion and that more times than not it’s not presented in a balanced way,” Edwards told North State Journal in an interview.

“And I would never imply, that we should not expose our children to what’s going on in the world around them and how it affects them directly and indirectly,” said Edwards. “But I do believe that we should insist that each side of a political opinion is represented.”

Edwards said that if it “our sincere goal is to educate the total mind of children,” then there is a responsibility to make sure that all viewpoints are represented.

In addition to requiring balanced viewpoints, the bill also has a section requiring school boards to post the materials students are being asked to read and understand. Edwards says this is so that parents can be aware of the materials that their children are asked to view and have the opportunity to be able to weigh in if they feel that they should do so.

What this bill does is not an exception to some of the professionals teaching standards that are already in place,” said Edwards, referring to the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards guide.

Edwards pointed out that the second standard of that guide says teachers should establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students.

“I believe that diversity should also include those that may have a different political view point than their teachers or their peers,” said Edwards.

Edwards did not offer any examples of reports from parents; however, a recent report by The Washington Free Beacon detailed a controversial lesson given by a history teacher at Ardrey Kell High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. The lesson “downplayed the Holocaust and likened 19th-century Americans to Nazis.”

As of April 19, the Biden administration’s Department of Education submitted a new rule to the Federal Register which would force schools to utilize Culturally Responsive Teaching, a Critical Race Theory derivative, into history and civics courses. The proposed rule uses as an example the controversial and historically inaccurate “1619 Project.” It also quotes “antiracist activist” Ibram X. Kendi to support inserting “anti-racist practices into teaching and learning” on a national scale.

Wake County parent and founder of the Carolina Teachers Alliance Amy Marshall says that more and more districts are “incorporating ‘”social justice’ teacher training and curriculum, which does not forward student academic achievement.”

Marshall provided a few examples, which included a diversity inventory given at Heritage High, where students had to list their sexual preferences; and a Black Lives Matter video justifying rioting and looting during June 2020 George Floyd protests in Raleigh, which was shown to students at Moore Square Magnet.

“We at Carolina Teachers Alliance would like to see local school districts move away from non-academic teacher trainings and non-academic curriculum and replace that with core-subject area achievement-driven curriculum and teacher training,” Marshall said in an email to North State Journal. “NC’s teachers need to have the freedom to decline prescribed social justice curriculum in favor of unbiased academic curriculum.”

About A.P. Dillon 427 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_