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Local school leaders balk at controversial social studies standards

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school buses, schools,

At least one local board of education has voted to delay controversial new social studies standards that emphasize race and gender in teaching U.S. history and civics.

The Moore County Board of Education voted unanimously June 14 to adopt a resolution, urging the N.C. State Board of Education or lawmakers to delay implementation of the new standards until the 2022-23 school year. If either body fails to act, the board reserved the right to delay implementation unilaterally.

The new standards are supposed to guide curriculum for the school year beginning in August, but Moore County board members say there isn’t enough time.

“The Moore County School Board wanted to send a strong message to the State School Board and the General Assembly: Last-minute delivering of unsourced and plagiarized unpacking documents that only show one side is unacceptable,” said board member David Hensley in an email to Carolina Journal.

“If the N.C. Department of Public Instruction cannot properly do their job, why are they expecting more than 100 school districts to pick up the slack from their shoddy work? They couldn’t meet their own timelines or deliver an acceptable product, but they are going to hold school districts to a standard they themselves cannot meet.”

Board member Robert Levy proposed the resolution. He called the State Board of Education “unresponsive” and “rushed” in getting the social studies standards put out.

“I know we can if under the gun, come up with something which is adequate, but we need to come up with something that is superior, that meets our high standards,” Levy said.

Dr. Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation, noted that school boards have wide latitude to making curriculum decisions and selecting instructional materials.

“School district leaders are free to adopt an existing curriculum package, develop curricula locally, or opt for combining the two,” Stoops said. “Regardless of the curriculum used, the only expectation is that it generally aligns with state standards.”

Critics have contended the new social studies standards would open the door for critical race theory instruction in public schools. Critical race theory views U.S. history and civics exclusively through the lens of race and contends all white people are inherently oppressive.

A recent analysis by the Fordham Institute ranked the social studies standards as the worst in the Southeast, assigning an “F” to the U.S. history standards and “D-minus” to civics.

The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote Thursday, July 8, on adopting “unpacking documents” for grades six through 12 concerning the social studies standards. The board voted in mid-June to approve the K-5 unpacking documents.

The N.C. House passed a measureSenate Bill 654 — that would delay the adoption of the social studies standards for all school districts for one year. That bill failed in the Senate and moved to a conference committee between the two chambers to resolve differences.