Gov. Cooper refuses to take position on Critical Race Theory

Gov. Roy Cooper briefs media at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH — At a July 21 press briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper refused to take a position on what has become a hot-button education issue across the country: whether Critical Race Theory, a Marxist-inspired ideology, should have its principles taught in the state’s public schools.

Critical Race Theory is based in the belief that all facets of society, all people, and history are inherently racist and that resolution or redemption for those people or societal structures is not possible.

At the press briefing, Cooper was asked directly his position on the issue.

Cooper responded, “What I think is we need a good teacher in every classroom and a good principal in every school. And we need to keep them safe from COVID-19. That’s what I’m focused on right now.”

In a follow-up question, Cooper was asked about his position on a bill that would ban these views from classrooms, which is currently making its way through the General Assembly.

That measure, House Bill 324, would prohibit public schools from compelling students to affirm or profess belief in discriminatory concepts, such as one race or sex being superior to another; inherent racism, sexism, or oppression; or character traits, values, moral codes, or privileges ascribed to a certain race or sex.

Despite attempting to deflect from answering, Cooper said he hadn’t seen that legislation come from the General Assembly.

While Cooper wouldn’t either support or oppose Critical Race Theory, many state leaders have railed against its tenets.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) said he opposes Critical Race Theory and recently said, “I will combat it with everything that I have, because it undoes the framework that produced the most successful ongoing experiment in self-government in the history of mankind.”

Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has spoken against Critical Race Theory on numerous occasions, saying that it is “not about equality; it is about teaching students that because of the color of your skin, you are either oppressed or an oppressor. And ushering students towards this ideology will lead us to a divided and wrongful future.”

State Democrats have alternated between saying Critical Race Theory doesn’t exist and that it should be used.

In a campaign stop in Columbus County, state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who is running for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, angrily responded to a question saying, “It’s literally not happening, ma’am. It’s not about whether we’re against it or for it, it’s about a party that’s convinced people it’s a threat, but it doesn’t exist.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Jackson’s town hall was not the first time Jackson declined to take a stance on teaching critical race theory in public schools. At a July forum in Holly Springs, the state legislator told a voter that the drafting of racial curriculum should be left to local education officials. Jackson’s campaign did not return a request for comment to the outlet.

North Carolina Democratic Party chair Bobbie Richardson called Critical Race Theory an attempt by Republicans to distract from what she said were, “very real deficiencies that exist in North Carolina schools.”

Republicans point to the fact that education funding has increased by over $1 billion in the past five years.