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NC education board drops word 'systemic' to describe racism in new history standards

NC education board drops word 'systemic' to describe racism in new history standards
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The North Carolina Board of Education on Thursday voted in favor of new K-12 education standards aimed at teaching more diverse perspectives in history, but pushback from some officials resulted in the dropping of words like “systemic” to describe racism. 

NBC’s Raleigh, N.C., affiliate WRAL reported that the 7-5 decision followed hours of debate Wednesday. The standards passed include requirements to teach students about specific races, religions and other groups.

The new standards mark a change from the previous standards which often simply stated a “variety” of perspectives. 

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However, the standards received pushback from some board members, who argued they were too “anti-American” and did not adequately acknowledge the progress the U.S. has made toward racial equity. 

“The system of government that we have in this nation is not systematically racist,” Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) said in January, according to local NBC station WXII-TV. “In fact, it is not racist at all.”

Following this pushback, State Board Superintendent Catherine Truitt removed the words “systemic” before “racism” and “discrimination,” and also replaced “gender identity” with “identity.” 

"For nearly two years, the Department has worked to create consensus among hundreds of educators and stakeholders statewide over the history standards,” Truitt told CNN. “I'm disappointed there was not a unanimous vote on these standards today because the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education created them to be both inclusive and encompassing.” 

In addition to the revisions, Truitt added a preamble, stating, “The North Carolina State Board of Education believes that our collective social studies standards must reflect the nation's diversity and that the successes, contributions, and struggles of multiple groups and individuals should be included."

This means teaching the hard truths of Native American oppression, anti-Catholicism, exploitation of child labor, and Jim Crow, to name a few,” it continues.  

“Our human failings have at times taken the form of racism, xenophobia, nativism, extremism, and isolationism,” Truitt adds. “We need to study history in order to understand how these situations developed, the harmful impact they caused, and the forces and actors that sometimes helped us move beyond these outcomes.”