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On a mostly partisan vote of 25-17, the North Carolina Senate passed new rules that would seek to limit race relations lessions from schools.  The billis called the Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools. Act.

The key red flag in this bill from a Bill of Rights standpoint is this, (7) the belief that the United States is a meritocracy is racist or sexist or was created by members of a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex.

For a school to teach that particular perspective as objective fact might be highly problematic to a pluralistic Democratic-Republic bounded by a Bill of Rights based Constitution.  But for a school to teach that particular perspective as a perspective, and not fact, seems to go beyond protecting the rights of children to not be discriminated against because of their gender, their sexual orientation,  their race, their religion, or even their political views.

For the most part, this bill seems to mostly do just that.

Here is the key summary from that act:
Prohibits public school units from promoting seven specified belief concepts as follows: (1) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; (2) an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; (3) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex; (4) an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex; (5) an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex; (6) any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress; and (7) the belief that the United States is a meritocracy is racist or sexist or was created by members of a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex. Defines promote to include three types of actions: (1) compelling students or school employees to affirm or profess the seven described belief concepts; (2) including the described belief concepts in educational or professional settings in a way that reasonably appears to sponsor, approve or endorse them; or (3) contracting, hiring, or engaging persons for the purpose of advocating the described belief concepts. Specifies that the statute does not prohibit constitutionally protected speech; individually accessing materials that advocate the described belief concepts for research or independent study; or stating the described belief concepts or assigning materials that incorporate such concepts for educational purposes in contexts that make clear the public school unit does not sponsor, approve, or endorse such concepts or work.

Read the full bill here.

But this last part might even assuage some of the fears I expressed above, “Specifies that the statute does not prohibit constitutionally protected speech; individually accessing materials that advocate the described belief concepts for research or independent study; or stating the described belief concepts or assigning materials that incorporate such concepts for educational purposes in contexts that make clear the public school unit does not sponsor, approve, or endorse such concepts or work.”

Here, it seems the bill is careful to alllow for the expression of opinion and the introduction of ideas that might reflect even some of the beliefs this bill is specifically targeting the schools not to teach kids.

This bill seems to be as good a faith an effort as you can make to trying to walk the line between assuring government-run schools are not fundamentally violating the rights of its students and their parents by teaching children ideas that are violations in and of themselves of our Bill of Rights foundation as a people, as Americans.

As I’ve said many times before, we are a pluralistic land, in point of fact, and we need, as a people who are here, who can exchange value with one another across multiple political, religious, philosophical divides, so long as we share the same civic governance standards, and for this nation, those standards are the Bill of Rights.  These are the only remaining standards that make us American at all.  Without them, no one is American anymore.

And for me, America is worth attempting to hold on to, at her core, if not her outward veneer, the most recent one of the past, and certainly not the one we have today, a new veneer, where the Bill of Rights values are extended not just in governmental halls, but in public squares and marketplaces as well, for all who interact in those spaces, the owners, the workers, the customers, etc.

Of course, the devil is in the details, and it remains to be seen what final form this bill will take, but, for now, while I do not believe they need item seven, I think the ‘does not prohibit’ clause leaves plenty of room to express a multiplicities of perspectives on what was, what is, and might be, in an American context, respecting the Bills of Rights of the students and the parents regpardless of your personal beliefs as an agent of the government.

I think this is a reasonable request.