On Nov. 12, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, signed House Bill 1508 into law a day after the one-page measure was overwhelmingly approved by both chambers of the Republican-majority state legislature. Proponents of the ban said the legislative effort was based on the demands of concerned parents.
“Our parents are seeing these types of ideas, these types of concepts in critical race theory being brought home by their children,” said Republican state Rep. Jim Kasper, one of the legislation’s sponsors, according to The Bismarck Tribune.
Unlike anti-CRT laws enacted in some other states, such as the Texas law targeting individual concepts derived from CRT, the new North Dakota law specifically mentions the ideology—which is rooted in Marxism—by its name and prohibits its incorporation into the K–12 curriculum.
Under the new law, school districts in North Dakota must ensure “factual, objective” instruction for students and “may not include instruction relating to critical race theory in any portion” of the curriculum that they require or offer. The law defines CRT as “the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.”
In a statement to Fox News, Burgum said the law addresses parental concerns, while also maintaining school board autonomy.
“This bill addresses the concerns of parents while preserving the decision-making authority of local school boards to approve curriculum that is factual, objective, and aligned with state content standards,” he said.
The approval of the measure drew criticism from the North Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed that the CRT ban would prevent students from having “an open and honest dialogue about America’s history.”
“This bill treats honest and frank discussions of race and its place in American history as a threat and attempts to censor classroom conversations,” the organization said in a statement. “This is particularly egregious in consideration of the North Dakota government’s turbulent history with Indigenous people who have been here since before colonization.”
The legislation comes amid outrage over CRT in K–12 education, a prominent issue in some of the nation’s recent high-profile elections. In Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Glenn Youngkin, a Republican running on an anti-CRT platform, defeated former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who insisted that CRT isn’t being taught in Virginia’s K–12 classrooms and stated that parents shouldn’t tell schools what to teach their children.