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LETTERS / More Information About “Woke” Educational Issues in NC and Watauga County Schools

Dear Editor,

Here is a follow-up with additional information that I thought you & your readers might be interested in:

I attended the September Watauga Board of Education (BOE) meeting on September 12th & had the privilege of meeting Mark Murphy, whose article in the High-Country Press (HCP) spurred my own letter to the HCP Editor. Mark is a wealth of information! Based upon my own research & talking to Mark, here is an update to my last writing: 

In North Carolina, the NC State Board of Education and/or NC State Department of Instruction (DPI) set general “standards” for K-12 education in local districts, and then also offer further “recommended” supporting curriculum and instructional materials.  But local school boards still have considerable power to choose, adapt and implement their own local curriculum.   

In 2021 the NC BOE and DPI radically amended the NC State Social Studies standards to incorporate a “woke” political agenda.  Two example changes the NC BOE / DPI inserted into the 2021 NC Standards for American History and Civic Literacy classes are quoted below. 

“AH C&G 1.4 -Explain how racism, oppression, and discrimination of indigenous peoples, racial minorities, and other marginalized groups have impacted equality and power in America.” 

“CL.B.1.4 – Explain how individual values and societal norms contribute to institutional discrimination and the marginalization of minority groups living under the American system of government.”  

Many NC parents recognized the “woke” political agenda in these “standards” and majorities of the North Carolina House and Senate agreed.  In 2021 both NC houses passed House Bill 324 that proposed to ban the teaching of some of the “woke” concepts, such as: “One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or “An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.”  But Governor Cooper vetoed House Bill 324.   

At the local level, the Watauga Board of Education accepted the “woke” 2021 NC BOE/DPI Social Studies “standards” and supporting materials, and also purchased the “woke” Newsela computerized instructional materials discussed in Mark Murphy’s letters on August 10 and 22.   

In 2022, one bill is currently pending in the NC Legislature for a “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” but a radically different bill is also pending that would legally mandate the use of the woke methods of “Social-Emotional Learning” in NC Kindergarten classes.  The NC BOE and DPI bureaucracies are also currently revising the NC state educational “standards” for ‘Science’ and ‘Health Education’ in NC K-12 schools, but are being very secretive about the new “standards” they will soon impose.   

The future votes of local school boards are very important in determining the detailed curricula used in local school districts.  As Dr. Olivia Oxendine, a long-time member of the NC State Board of Education and an opponent of the Social-Emotional teaching approaches recently said, “The writing of the curricula rests with the local boards…the State Board of Education does not mandate curriculum.”  Education in North Carolina is governed by a “culture and philosophy of local control.”  Parents should consider these issues when they vote in the November elections for the Board of Education. 

Terry Oldham 

Boone, NC