Add North Dakota to the rapidly growing list of states banning Critical Race Theory teachings in public schools. Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed the bill into law on November 12, which bill passed in the state senate by a 38-9 vote and in the state house by a vote of 76-16.
Inforum reported that the bill’s supporters worked on the bill to ensure there was a preventative measure against the theory’s infiltration into public schools. State senator Donald Schaible said, “The bill is more preemptive to try to make sure that it doesn’t come to our schools.”
The new law defines Critical Race Theory as “the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.”
Gov. Burgum’s statement said, “This bill addresses the concerns of parents while preserving the decision-making authority of local school boards to approve curriculum that is factual, objective and aligned with state content standards.”
One of the Republican supporters of the bill, state senator Nicole Poolman, said that she wanted to reassure the public that state legislators are taking their concerns seriously. “If we can do something to reassure parents that in public schools we are not having a political agenda, then I think that we should do that,” she noted, “The fear and the outrage are very real, even if I may believe that fear and outrage was manufactured.”
Poolman is a high school English teacher outside of her work as a state legislator.
The bill passed along partisan lines, with no Democratic legislator voting for the bill. Two Republican state senators and two Republican state representatives voted against the bill.
Among some of the groups opposing the bill was the North Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU claimed that the broadly-worded bill would chill a teacher’s ability to teach about race in public school classrooms.
Yet, the bill has no penalty for teachers who violate the law.