North Dakota Senate Bans Teaching Critical Race Theory in Schools, Says Action Preemptive

The North Dakota Senate voted 38-9 Friday to approve a bill banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools, the Associated Press reported.

Proponents of the bill said that the legislation was a preventive measure, as there is no evidence that critical race theory is taught in any North Dakota schools.

Critical race theory, which calls for America's past and present to be regarded through the lens of racism, has become a point of contention in U.S. classrooms and communities. Some parents and lawmakers have even decried the potential teaching of the concept in schools as an attempt to indoctrinate children.

But reports indicate that the vast majority of schools don't require teachers to cover the theory in class. A survey conducted by the Association of American Educators, a nonpartisan professional organization for teachers, found that more than 96 percent of 1,134 respondents were not required to teach critical race theory in classrooms, NBC News reported.

Of the respondents, just 45 percent said that teachers should be given the option to include critical race theory in their curriculums.

Republican state Senator Donald Schaible, who helped move the bill on the North Dakota Senate floor, said that the proposed CRT ban was meant "to try to make sure that it doesn't come to our schools."

GOP Governor Doug Burgum will now decide whether to sign the legislation, along with another bill passed 33-14 by the Senate on Friday that would restrict COVID-19 vaccine mandates, AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Burgum to Consider Two Bills
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum must decide whether to sign a state Senate-passed bill that would preemptively ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools. Above, Burgum (center) talks during a meeting of a Red River diversion task force in Fargo, North Dakota, on October 23, 2017. Dave Kolpack/AP Photo

North Dakota representatives on Friday gave final approval to a bill that excludes Social Security benefits from income tax. Legislative budget writers estimate the measure will reduce state revenues by $14.6 million in the current two-year budget cycle.

Senators gave final approval to a bill that would provide a $350 income tax credit for each North Dakota resident filing a return for 2021 and 2022. The income tax relief was pushed by Burgum, who recommended using part of the state's hefty and better-than-forecast ending fund balance of $1.1 billion in the last two-year budget cycle.

Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature. Burgum last month called the special session to deal with a limited agenda that includes legislative redistricting and the approval of a spending plan for federal coronavirus relief aid.

Also Friday, the Senate gave final approval on a measure that spends nearly the entire amount of the $1.1 billion in federal coronavirus aid available to the state. The spending includes funding initiatives ranging from infrastructure improvements to workforce development programs.

The appropriation includes $150 million to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from the state's oil-producing region in the western part of the state to eastern North Dakota.

Only $63 million of the federal funding was not appropriated by state lawmakers.

Redistricting was among the main issues before the Legislature. Burgum on Thursday signed the redistricting legislation, that reflects a continued loss of political clout in rural areas due to population shifts in the past decade.

Though the map maintains 47 legislative districts, it creates three new districts in the state's fastest-growing areas but erases an equal amount in population-lean rural regions.

The new map also separates House districts on two American Indian reservations, a move tribal leaders believe will increase the odds of electing their own members to the Legislature.

CRT Protest
Critical race theory, which calls for America’s past and present to be regarded through the lens of racism, has become a point of contention in U.S. classrooms and communities. Above, people talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia, on June 12, 2021. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images