The Pulse

House dumps item in bill allowing Beaufort County Schools to use controversial history curriculum

By: - May 5, 2023 2:30 pm
students in an American history classroom

The North Carolina House has approved a bill to establish a new commission that would develop the state’s public school curricula. Photo: Getty Images

The House has removed a provision to allow Beaufort County Schools to use a controversial social studies curriculum that questions the legitimacy of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that one lawmaker tried to slip into two unrelated bills.

An amendment introduced by Rep. Hugh Blackwell, a Burke County Republican, to remove the provision from House Bill 23 was approved by the House on Wednesday. That bill focuses on reporting requirements for MyFutureNC, a commission looking at postsecondary educational attainment in the state and would require the NC Department of Public Instruction to conduct a study to look into improving educational options for children with disabilities that require intensive services.

“We’re simply deleting that,” Blackwell said. “I would ask the House to vote yes [on the amendment].”

Last week, Rep. Keith Kidwell, a Beaufort County Republican, slipped the provision into a bill that revises how members of the Washington-Warren Airport Authority are appointed, but he later withdrew it.

“I thought it was going to be a pretty straightforward thing, but I’ve had a bunch of other counties express interest and we’ll be readdressing that at a future date,” Kidwell said.

Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman told NC Newsline that the district never requested the legislation to allow it to use the curriculum.

“The full board [of education], all nine members had never discussed it, never once voted on it, never once asked for it,” Cheeseman said.

The vote striking the provision from HB 23 comes during a busy week during which the House put its conservative stamp on the state’s system of public education, including the approval of bills to expand the state’s private school voucher system and removing many of the State Board of Education’s oversight responsibilities over charter schools while paving the way for them to grow.

As NC Newsline previously reported, the Hillsdale curriculum is not among those approved by the State Board of Education. It has been controversial in other states such as Tennessee where critics say it attempts to whitewash American history.

The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum teaches that civil rights laws outlawing discrimination in public places may violate the U.S. Constitution. It also downplays the extent to which the nation’s founders supported slavery. It grew out of former President Donald Trump’s “1776 Commission” that he created to promote “patriotic education.”

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.