The way progressives have reacted to a bill limiting controversial racial school lessons should tell us everything we need to know about how they view education.

House Bill 187, called the Equality in Education Act, currently in the Senate, promises to effectively end the teaching of critical race theory within North Carolina schools. The bill, similar to House Bill 324, Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination in Schools, which was struck down by Gov. Cooper in 2021, could pass now that Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly.

Upon inspection of the pithy three-page bill, one will be hard-pressed to find any language that could not have come out of the mouth of any of the civil right leaders of the past, whether Martin Luther King Jr. or W.E.B. Du Bois.

The language states, in part, that N.C. public schools shall not promote that:

  • “One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.”
  • “An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.”
  • “An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex”
  • “An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
  • “Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.”
  • “A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist.”
  • “Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex.”
  • “The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups.”
  • “All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

These guidelines may seem sane and rudimentary, but they have somehow pushed many on the left over the edge. Upon passing the House in March, media outlets like the Associated Press, among others, have desperately tried to attach some type of authoritative spin on the bill.

Rep. Laura Budd, D-Mecklenburg, told AP that the bill was an “obvious attempt to micromanage from the General Assembly into the classrooms” and that “It’s overreach and will have a chilling effect on teachers and educators in curtailing what they think they’re allowed to teach.” This is supposedly due to the bill’s vague language. By throwing such a wide net to capture the nebulous concept that is “critical race theory,” it throws out the baby with the bathwater, they say.

The hypocrisy is in the details, however. The bill never uses the term “critical race theory,” but it nonetheless targets its central premises like encouraging guilt for the past actions perpetrated by people of the same race and the idea that meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist. These are all essential parts of what critical race theory teaches.

Liberal ideologues want to have it both ways. They want to be able to say that critical race theory is not taught in schools due to its complexity and broadness while also saying that restricting any teaching that asserts that any of it is true is limiting to teachers.

Proponents of critical race theory are always so quick to say that critical race theory is nothing more than a complex academic and legal theory that says that racism is embedded within the governmental and legal system. If this is true, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, and if it isn’t taught in school, then what could possibly go wrong by saying that it should never be taught?

I graduated high school amid the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as critical race theory was starting to enter the national consciousness, and I can say with conviction that critical race theory was never something necessary to bring across the gravity of historical events, let alone the significance they still have today.

Learning about history is something that is incredibly complex and that necessarily requires us to step aside from our own biases to weigh events from all perspectives. This is why it is troubling that certain representatives seem to want to allow teachers to inject their own left-wing worldviews into their teaching of history to inculcate those perspectives into their students.

But, this is what makes history exciting and intriguing. History should never be simplified into something that can be liberal or conservative. The fact that we are forced to decipher the lessons of history in our own way is what makes history exciting. The assertion of the founding fathers that we all hold the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was compelling to me not because it was pushed onto me but because I could disconnect it from the imperfect application of those ideals by our founding fathers. 

I understood the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights as ideals we have failed to live by and not as lies, as critical theorists want to assert. I could see how every landmark U.S. Supreme Court case represented an inch toward those ideals.

On the other hand, critical race theory advocates want to say the opposite. They want to say that any civil rights victory was a farce and that the assertion that “all men were created equal” was just a ploy to hide the true basis for the American system: racism, sexism and alongside every other -ism they want to add.

These requirements should not be any hindrance on educators as they teach history, that is, unless they had planned on drawing racially divisive conclusions for their students.