RALEIGH — Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s task force investigating indoctrination and the spread of Critical Race Theory in North Carolina K-12 classrooms has delivered its first report.
Robinson’s Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students (FACTS) task force was formed in March of this year with the objective of combating lessons and materials found to be inappropriate or politically biased. The 12-person advisory board for FACTS is made up of teachers, local and state board members, lawmakers, university professors and other community members.
A portal for the public to submit concerns and examples was created on the website of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. There are 506 submissions included in the original report which have been reviewed by Robinson’s office and the task force.
On Aug. 24, Robinson held a press conference discussing some of the details. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden), Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga), Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), and state superintendent of public instruction Catherine Truitt were in attendance.
“I want to make this plain; this is not an attack on educators or education,” said Robinson. “I am going to say that again, because I know there are going to be people who will say this is an assault on the teaching profession. It is not.”
“What this is is an attempt to stop the abuse of the teaching profession by a few or using that profession to put undue pressure on young minds to accept their way of thinking,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the task force was put together to answer the question of whether indoctrination is happening in North Carolina public schools. He then said that after doing this report and task force, that “the overwhelming answer is yes, it is.”
N.C. Superintendent Catherine Truitt gave some brief remarks that included praising much of the work happening in public schools, but said that “no child should ever feel marginalized or question their place while in school.” She later said that based on what was in the report, it was clear that some educators were “using their personal and political beliefs to influence their students rather than to educate them.”
“As a parent, a former teacher, and as the state superintendent, I am disappointed by the examples that have been brought to light,” Truitt said of the report.
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) touched on Critical Race Theory cited several examples from the report, including a student who experienced discrimination during remote learning when her teacher praised certain viewpoints while shutting others out and a 14-year veteran teacher who is afraid to speak out.
Berger quoted the teacher, who said, “anyone who speaks up is afraid they will be canceled or terminated because they have a different opinion.”
Berger said, “Take these teachers seriously; they are raising a red flag.”
“Don’t tell me this doctrine doesn’t exist. Don’t tell me that all these teachers and parents are just making this stuff up,” Berger said of the report examples and Critical Race Theory. He then launched into an example of a presentation given at the Governor’s School which he said “looks like something straight out of Robin DeAngelo white privilege seminar.”
The report presented at the press conference, originally 766 pages, was summarized down to approximately 41 pages and made available to the public on the lieutenant governor’s website.
“The purpose of the information is to compile and present the information,” a member of Lt. Gov. Robinson’s staff told North State Journal in a preview of the report before it became public.
The staffer added that the task force’s work showed it was “a way bigger problem” than they thought.
In the report summary, the task force identifies six themes: fear of retaliation, the sexualization of kids, Critical Race Theory components, white shaming, biased news media and/or lesson plans, and shaming certain political beliefs.
Examples included a high school yearbook dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement, Durham Public School’s resolution recognizing the teaching of “Black Lives Matter at School’s Week of Action,” as well as an accompanying coloring book with pages titled “Transgender Affirming” and “Queer Affirming.”
Handouts on “white privilege,” “cis-gendered privilege,” “male privilege,” “able-bodied privilege,” “straight privilege,” and a “Christian privilege checklist” were given to students at North Carolina’s prestigious Governor’s School, which annually offers five-week summer residential programs for gifted and talented high school students.
Reports covered complaints involving Critical Race Theory, social justice, Black Lives Matter and overtly left-leaning political indoctrination; however, there were a couple of instances of right-leaning bias found.
Within the original 766-page report obtained by North State Journal, there were 98 references to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s social justice education group, “Learning for Justice,” which, until earlier this year, was named “Teaching Tolerance.”
Submissions included age-inappropriate books promoting transgenderism and LGBT issues to elementary students. According to the submission on one of the books, “George” by Alex Gino makes “references to female and male anatomy and dirty magazines” and “alludes to porn and masturbation.” Gino’s book also instructs the reader that boys can do hormone therapy in order to suppress their testosterone so they can then have surgery to alter their anatomy.
Another example in the report is teacher training in Wake County Public Schools involving a pyramid graphic charting “overt white supremacy.” In June, North State Journal launched a multi-part series on training taking place in Wake County schools that included the same pyramid and included sections on culturally sustaining pedagogy, antiracist education and antibias education.
An earlier two-part series produced by North State Journal detailed an “Intro to Critical Race Theory” professional development course that was being offered by Wake County schools. The course was pulled after North State Journal began inquiries. The course was to be taught by a diversity training organization called The Equity Collaborative, which is co-founded and run by sitting General Assembly House Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange). Part two of the series covered talking points sent to the Wake County School Board by former assistant superintendent of the Office of Equity Affairs Rodney Trice, which, despite evidence to the contrary, denied Critical Race Theory was being employed in the district.
Included in the report was a percentage breakdown of where submissions were originating. The largest percentage of submissions for a single school district came from the state’s largest district, Wake County Public Schools, with 20.9%. Orange County Public Schools came in second with 12.8%, followed by Forsyth at 7% and Guilford at 5.5%.
A number of submissions did not have documentation of an incident or example of materials but instead reported inappropriate behavior by teachers or staff, such as being yelled at for questioning an assignment or set of instructions the student disagreed with. Other submissions detailed teachers pushing progressive and social justice ideologies in the classroom.
There were a handful of submissions accusing the task force of being “pro-Trump racists.” Alternatively, a report submitted claimed a Wake County high school American History II honors teacher had made anti-Trump comments and had also disparaged other past Republican presidents.
Submissions were not limited to just K-12 classrooms. Another submission claimed one of their college-aged children had a chemistry teacher call former President Donald Trump a “punitive rapist.”
Following the press conference, Robinson presented the findings to the Senate Education/Higher Education Standing Committee. That committee also heard and approved House Bill 324, Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools.