RALEIGH — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed two bills Friday, including an anti-Critical Race Theory bill that would have regulated what views public schools can “promote” and required them to post online in advance curriculum and guest speakers who might talk about race or gender.
House Bill 324, titled “Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination/Schools,” passed both the House and Senate completely along party lines, with all Republicans for and all Democrats against. All the African American senators and representatives of the General Assembly are Democrats.
In an emailed statement, Cooper said: “The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.”
Cooper also vetoed House Bill 805, known as “Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder,” which would have created stricter penalties for people who riot. Speaker Tim Moore filed the bill after George Floyd protests last summer became destructive.
“People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest,” Cooper said about the veto Friday.
Critical Race Theory Bill
The bill itself does not mention Critical Race Theory by name, but outlines a series of things schools shall not “promote,” including that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;” and that “an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.” It also says teachers shall not promote that anyone “should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” based on their race or sex.
The bill also requires schools to notify the Department of Public Instruction and post on its school website a month in advance the curriculum, reading lists, workshops and training as well as any contracts with speakers and diversity trainers.
During the final debate in the House, Rep. John Torbett, a Stanley Republican, said the bill “provides a window into what (parents’) children are being taught.”
“This bill does not change what history can or cannot be taught,” Torbett said.
Rep. Brandon Lofton, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, said the bill “encourages us to look away from our history.”
Wake County Democratic Rep. Abe Jones called that aspect of the bill “Big Raleigh,” and an example of state lawmakers making rules for local areas where they do not live.