When North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson spoke about education at a Tuesday evening roundtable in downtown Durham, he did not publicly address a topic that may have been in the spotlight. minds of many attendees: a call in his forthcoming book to eliminate science and history from the curriculum in grades one through five and the closure of the State Board of Education.
In the book, due for release September 13, Robinson writes that schools should “require proficiency in reading, writing and math from grades one through five. In these classes, we don’t need to teach social studies. We don’t need to teach science. We certainly don’t need to talk about equity and social justice.
Following the public panel, The News & Observer asked him about this position. Robinson said he did not want to discuss the book at the event and that he or his representatives would speak separately. But soon after, in comments to CBS-17 at the event, he appeared to backtrack on at least one statement from the book. He told the station he was not saying that science, at least, should be eliminated of the curriculum, but rather that proficiency in reading and math should be the priority.
“We’re not talking about not teaching science to elementary school kids,” he said on Tuesday. “What we’re talking about is putting reading, writing and arithmetic – making it a priority in primary school.”
Robinson, who is North Carolina’s top executive Republican, has a reputation for making inflammatory and controversial comments. A viral 2018 speech on gun rights launched his political career, and just two years later he was elected by voters as the state’s first black lieutenant governor.
He shared an advance copy of his book, “We Are the Majority: The Life and Passions of a Patriot,” with The N&O. In the book, which gained attention after excerpts were published by WRAL, Robinson expressed a range of opinions and ideas on education. He also indicated that he could seek to become governor of North Carolina in 2024, writing that although he had not declared himself for this race yet because he had to consider his health, the opinion of his wife and more, “we plan to have a strong run should I decide to do so.
“We had a leader who took us a long way in the wrong direction during his two terms,” he wrote of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. “Someone needs to right this ship before it sinks.”
Efforts to reach Robinson’s spokesperson in his role as lieutenant governor by email before and after the event were unsuccessful.
During the roundtable, which lasted nearly two hours, speakers covered a variety of topics: homeschooling, broadband and interconnectivity issues in the state, barriers to accessing education for Hispanic families, expanding access to school voucher programs, and providing alternatives to public school and four years of college and university.
The event, which brought together around 100 people, was hosted by Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina (AFP-NC), the State Section of the Conservative Advocacy Organization, and The LIBRE-North Carolina Initiative (LIBRE-NC), the state chapter of the advocacy group focused on the Hispanic community. These organizations support limited government intervention and spending and generally support Republican candidates.
During the panel, Robinson said he believes that learning happens with collaboration between parents, teachers and students.
But, he said, “it’s not going to happen the way a lot of these bureaucrats hoped it would, through standardized testing or trying to impose agendas on people. This happens when we have a classroom that is built on the premise of their own education, not any kind of indoctrination, not any kind of ideology, but just the methods, proven methods that we know works, to teach kids the things they need to know.
Here’s a look at some of Robinson’s other positions in his book on education and more:
To the State Board of Education
In his next book, Robinson writes that the biggest problem with public education in America for him is “the sheer ineptitude and incomprehensibility embodied in our educational philosophy”.
“I sit in North Carolina State Board of Education meetings, I listen to them chat, chat, chat, and I think every time, ‘What does this all mean?’ “
His solution? Eliminate the board, he writes.
“We must have an entity, a person, where the responsibility stops. Right now we have at least three: school boards, the state superintendent of education, and local school systems — and none are really accountable to the others. »
The state Board of Education establishes public school policy, the Department of Public Instruction is responsible for implementing state public school laws, and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction North Carolina oversees implementation. Local school boards, in turncontrol “all matters relating to public schools in their respective administrative units and they must enforce school law in their respective units”, according to state laws.
As lieutenant governor, Robinson is a voting member of the State Board of Education, which is primarily appointed by the governor.
On race and history
Robinson has often spoken out about race. In his book, he writes that he hates “the attempt to racialize history and education with the so-called 1619 Project and critical race theory. For all the conservatives…it’s the embodiment of things we’ve been warning about, screaming about for years.
The 1619 Project is an award-winning project published by The New York Times, comprised of books and resources that reframe American history by placing slavery at the center of its narrative. CRT is a scientific framework that argues that systemic racism has been and continues to be a part of the nation’s history.
Robinson also writes that it is not possible to teach history without teaching the bad sides and examining the impact of slavery, but to stop “demonizing people based on their color, and we need to stop telling people they are victims based on the color of their skin.
On higher education and loans
“We give so much money in student aid and subsidized loans, but the one thing we don’t ask is if students have a plan for what they will be doing when they graduate and how they will are going to repay that loan money,” writes Robinson.
“How will the student do well in school? What goals will they set for themselves to get where they want to be on the other side? How are they going to repay the loan? You can’t show any of this? They don’t get the money.
On same-sex marriage and sex education
Robinson writes that he supports same-sex couples having the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples, but that he “will not personally call it marriage” because he believes “marriage is ordained between a man and a woman”.
He writes that he doesn’t believe in teaching “kids what you do in the bedroom, as if your sexual preferences and practices should be celebrated and given government approval and even support.”
There should be no sex education, regardless of sexual identity or orientation, he wrote.
“Reading, writing, math – it all belongs in the classroom,” he writes. “Arts, music, sports? Maybe. These are supplements that lead to better results in reading, writing and math. Sex education no. Children do not have sex.
On vouchers, charter schools, the “exodus” from public schools
“We need voucher programs to get students into the best schools possible,” he writes. “We need more charter schools that replicate the one people are lined up to get into. We need to build more of them, not limit them.
Voucher programs in North Carolina include the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps fund private education for some low-income families, and the Education Student Accounts (ESA+) program, which helps some families cover the expenses of educating a child with a disability.
Charter schools, on the other hand, are public schools that operate independently of school districts and are exempt from many state regulations.
“If we find success along the way, we should build it into the system,” Robinson writes. “We could adopt charter school methods throughout the system. We could see a mass exodus from public schools entirely, and before you know it, traditional public schools could be a thing of the past.
For more on North Carolina government and politics, listen to the Under the Dome political podcast from The News & Observer and NC Insider. You can find it at https://campsite.bio/underthedome or wherever you get your podcasts.
This story was originally published August 24, 2022 1:55 p.m.