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ND House overwhelmingly passes ‘Critical Race Theory’ bill

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 11:11 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The North Dakota House of Representatives advanced House Bill 1508, which would ban “Critical Race Theory” from being taught in schools. The vote was 76-16.

The bill describes it as “the theory that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.”

Not many topics were allowed to be discussed during the special session, but many in the chamber were prepared to debate the hotly-contested “Critical Race Theory Bill”.

“This bill starts the engine of stopping ‘Critical Race Theory’ in its tracks in the state of North Dakota. Our parents deserve it. More importantly, our kids deserve it,” said the bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo.

Despite lawmakers admitting they don’t have record of schools teaching it, but they say they’re responding to concerned parents contacting them. One lawmaker compared it to poisoning children.

“I wouldn’t feed my children poison, and I don’t want our teachers feeding our students, my constituents, my family and friends poison. And that’s all Critical Race Theory is,” said Rep. Terry Jones, R-New Town.

Those against the bill say the theory isn’t nearly as racial as it’s being portrayed.

Regardless, the bill has no specific punishment. Those who voted against the bill questioned how serious a law can be without any authority to it.

“Right not, we are saying there are no consequences. Push back all you want, there’s nothing we or an aggrieved parent can do about it. I am uncomfortable with us rushing into this and creating a bad law that we’re only going to have to work back in the next year if we’re going to make it enforceable,” said Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks.

The bill falls under the legal code determining curriculum requirements for public schools, and some had concerns that it may put a school’s accreditation and a student diploma into question.

Some also had questions as to the timing of the bill. They argue a nationally-debated topic like this deserves more time to study than during a week-long special session.

“I don’t know that we want to go subject-by-subject and start deciding ‘our teachers can’t teach about this and our teachers can’t teach about that.’ By hiding these issues from our students, we’re not preparing them to live in the world,” said Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo.

Attempts to send the bill back to a committee for more debate or even to turn it into an un-enforced state study failed.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

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