As legislation prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in K-12 classrooms circulates in the North Carolina General Assembly, a critic of the theory, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, has set up a task force to gather evidence of it being taught in the school system.
Robinson, a Republican and North Carolina’s first black lieutenant governor, stepped into office in 2020 and serves under Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
Robinson entered the political limelight in 2018 when he was an adult student, two classes short of receiving his undergrad at the University of North Carolina Greensboro while working full time at a furniture factory.
At the time, members of the Greensboro City Council aimed to cancel a gun show, and during the public comment section of the council meeting, Robinson spoke against the proposal, with his remarks later going viral.
The Bully Pulpit
Robinson told The Epoch Times that he used his social media presence as a platform to seek office.
His role as lieutenant governor is to preside over the state Senate, as well as sit on the North Carolina Board of Education as a voting member.
Robinson said that another role significant to the lieutenant governor is that of the “bully pulpit” from which he voices opinions on issues.
The term was coined by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who referred to his office as the bully pulpit, from where he could advocate for matters Roosevelt considered important at the time.
From this pulpit, Robinson highlighted what he called the “conservative message,” however, he said, the growing trend in public education to incorporate complex racial concepts within—or around—the math, science, and English curriculum, is not a “left” or a “right” issue, but a threat of radical indoctrination on children who, he said, should be focusing their efforts on basic learning skills.
Robinson, who said he aspires to complete his bachelor’s degree so that he can later become a history professor, said: “This isn’t about whitewashing history. It’s not possible to teach history without talking about the bad things that happened. We must look at the impact that slavery had on our economy, social structure, our government, and the dreadful effects that it had on the people themselves. We have to look at how odd it was that a nation built on freedom had slaves.”
What the education system must also teach, he said, is how the system of government that is now being called systematically racist is the same system utilized to combat historically racist policies.
“We need to stop demonizing people based on their color, and we need to stop telling people that they are victims based on the color of their skin,” Robinson said. “We need to start telling them that they are Americans, and the way we as Americans overcame these injustices was by using our unique system of government. That’s what we are trying to teach. We aren’t trying to hide anything. We don’t want to whitewash anything. We want to teach the real story, and the real story is—yes, we have injustices, but we overcame those things together.”
Critical Race Theory Defined
In a March 2021 webinar held by Legal Insurrection—a nonprofit organization that examines government overreach policies—William A. Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School and president of the Legal Insurrection, said that the problem with CRT is that it reduces everything “to what historically has been the single most divisive aspect of American society, which is race, and makes everything about race, and that makes the U.S. systemically racist.”
“There’s nothing anybody can do about it,” Jacobson said. “And, therefore, everything we do in education focuses on race, which is extremely, extremely destructive. It focuses on equality of outcome, what they euphemistically call ‘equity,’ and justifies discrimination in order to achieve equity because we all know in our regular lives, not everybody performs the same.”
Within this framework, Jacobson said, anyone who disagrees with the teachings is classified as racist.
Also in the webinar was Thomas Lindsay, senior constitutional scholar for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit that defends and “promotes liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas public policy,” according to its mission statement.
He defined CRT as a product of German philosopher Karl Marx’s “Critical Theory,” which divides people between oppressors and the oppressed.
“To class struggle, Critical Race Theory adds racial struggle,” Lindsay said in the webinar. “Specifically, Critical Race Theory argues that all aspects of our life are interwoven with, and products of, racial prejudice, with an overriding emphasis on ‘white supremacy.’ So, under this theory, even those whites who adhere to the Declaration’s foundational principle, that all human beings are created equal, even they are guilty, whether they know it or not, of racism by virtue of their skin color.”
F.A.C.T.S. Task Force
As K-12 curriculums surfaced within the North Carolina school system, Robinson initiated the F.A.C.T.S. (Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students) task force to provide an online portal through which teachers and students can submit examples of CRT being taught in schools.
The information is being compiled into a report that will be presented to the public and the legislature, Robinson said, which will then consider solutions.
The objective of North Carolina’s newly introduced Senate Bill 729 (pdf) is to prohibit discriminatory practices in public employment, public contracting, and public education.
In joining other states in passing legislation, Senate Bill 729 seeks to “prohibit consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public contacting, and public education.”
State Sen. Phil Berger said the bill will be brought before the legislature’s education committee next week for review.
He called it “a commonsense bill.”
“Our public schools should not be indoctrinating our children in certain concepts that I believe there is broad agreement in terms of the concepts being problematic,” Berger told The Epoch Times. “Some examples I generally refer to is the idea that one race is inherently superior to another race. I don’t think anybody believes that’s the sort of thing that ought to be pushed in our schools, that one sex is inherently superior to another sex. I don’t think that’s something that most folks would want promoted, that someone today is responsible for some injustice that was perpetrated by someone scores of years ago.”
While there is no official curriculum approved by the state board of education in relation to critical race theory, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) said that the theory is not included in the state board’s social studies standards.
A DPI spokeswoman provided this statement to The Epoch Times:
“As required by state statute, the state board of education sets the baseline for what schools are required [to] teach in each class. The state board does this by approving and adopting ‘standards’ for each course. These standards are simply a list of general items that are to be taught in a particular class. Local boards of education implement these standards by adopting the curriculum taught within classrooms. If a parent or individual has questions about the material taught within a classroom, those matters are under the jurisdiction of the local school board. We would encourage parents to connect with their child’s school and/or local school board if they have questions about materials, teaching methods, or specific lessons that are used in a classroom.”