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Craven County Commissioners Pass Resolution Against Critical Race Theory in Schools

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A concept that has been widely debated across the United States recently has made it to Craven County: Critical Race Theory. The Craven County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Monday night against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Craven County schools. But Craven County’s board of education superintendent has said that this theory isn’t taught in schools, in the county or in the state of North Carolina. 

Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is an academic concept that has been around since the late 1970s. The theory is a way to understand and analyze the history of race and racism in the country, and how it has affected and continues to affect the laws and systems that run the country.

At Monday night’s board of commissioners meeting in Craven County, citizens spent over two hours giving public comments, both for and against the resolution against CRT being taught in public schools. The board said they received 130 emails in favor of the resolution, and 71 against it as of 4:15 that evening. There were also petitions, one in favor of the resolution with over 200 signatures, and one against it with over 900.

This weighty debate comes after months of national controversy over CRT, in schools, the military and politics. School boards in other NC counties have already passed resolutions or policies against CRT. Craven County’s School Board has not.

In favor of the resolution, Will Farmer of Cove City made a public comment saying the theory allows certain groups to continue an assault on American institutions.

“These theories shift focus from equality to equity, thus enabling accusations of America’s institutions of being systematically racist and of having systemic bias.” 

He offered his definition of Critical race theory to the board.

“Here’s a summary of critical race theory: All whites are racist and America is inherently, irredeemably evil. These theories focus obsessively on America’s sins, which do exist, while downplaying or ignoring necessary context such as the fact that virtually every nation in existence practices slavery at some point and America was among the first nations to fight a war to end slavery.”

Others in favor of the resolution said that critical race theory will create division among children and teach things other than factual history.

Those opposing the resolution mentioned that it seems vague and that the board of education has said CRT isn’t currently taught in schools anyway.

In opposition of the resolution, Hazel Dozier of James City, a retired teacher, said during her public comment that she is baffled by people’s reaction to CRT.

“Whether it is good or bad, don’t sweep it under the rug. Education is positive, to learn something is always a positive.”

She said critical race theory will enhance and help us to understand each other.

“The problem here is, we all fear the unknown.” 

Also opposed to the resolution was Linda Moore of New Bern, the chair of the Craven County Democratic Party.

“I think it is important to note that in 2018, the board of commissioners refused to move forward on the equal rights amendment because you said you had no jurisdiction. This board has no jurisdiction over what happens in our county schools.” 

The board voted 5 to 2 in favor of the resolution against teaching CRT in craven county schools. The resolution included supporting NC House Bill 324, which prohibits theories such as CRT , from being taught in all NC public schools. 

Some other eastern North Carolina Counties have been discussing this issue. Pender County’s Board of Education discussed whether to include CRT in public school curriculum at a meeting in June, but did not vote on the issue, sighting lack of information. Johnston County Public Schools adopted a policy amendment in July targeted at keeping CRT from being taught.