SMITHFIELD – The Johnston County Public Schools Board risks losing additional funding July 1st if they don’t adopt a policy preventing the teaching of Critical Race Theory. County Commissioner Fred Smith of Clayton made the statement Monday during a meeting of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners.
“I don’t believe the school board has a policy to prevent the teaching of Critical Race Theory in our public schools and I am opposed to teaching that in our schools, which takes a misguided history of races and cultures (and) are not in the best interest of our nation and our county.”
“While we can’t tell the school board to adopt that policy I just want it to be known that I’m not going to vote for any budget that increases their funding at all if they can’t come forward with assurance that in Johnston County that they’re not teaching the Critical Race Theory in our classrooms to our children, opposed to what the majority of our taxpayers want,” Smith said.
“I agree with you,” Commissioner Ted Godwin replied.
“I don’t think anybody on this board would disagree with that,” Chairman Chad Stewart added.
“What I’m hoping is, the school board will deal with this and assure us with a policy they will not support Critical Race Theory being taught in our schools before we have to adopt the budget. I want the whole world to know how I feel about this,” Smith responded.
Critical Race Theory or CRT is a movement by civil rights activists with common themes that white supremacy and racism exists and maintains power through the law. Some public schools across the United States have embraced the various teachings of CRT which promotes the idea one race is superior to another, individuals should receive special treatment solely because of their race or sex, and individuals bear responsibility for actions of past members of their race.
“I’m not going to agree not to increase funding based on what he (Commissioner Smith) has said,” Commissioner Tony Braswell stated.
Commissioner Chairman Chad Stewart said commissioners and school board members have a scheduled “3 on 3” meeting later this month to discuss their budget differences and wanted to know if commissioners wanted CRT brought up.
Commissioner Larry Wood replied, “I think what Commissioner Smith said is very clear. Critical Race Theory should not be taught in Johnston County Public Schools.”
Commissioners Wood and Godwin said they would like to see the school board adopt the CRT policy as requested by Smith.
Commissioner Butch Lawter said he was unsure and wanted to see the policy first.
Chairman Stewart said he would bring up the concerns at the 3-on-3 meeting.
School Board Response
Johnston County Report reached out to School Board Chairman Todd Sutton for a comment on Commissioner Smith’s statement today. In an email late this afternoon Sutton said, “We are appreciative of our strong relationship with the Johnston County Commissioners and the work that they do to further education for our students. Johnston County Public Schools currently does not have an instructional model that teaches Critical Race Theory. Our district is dedicated to academic excellence and to teaching to the standards outlined by our state.”
We also reached out for a statement from Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy. We have not received a reply.
Johnston County Public Schools is seeking $79,927,090 from commissioners this year, an 11 percent increase in their general fund. Factoring in their capital outlay requests, the overall budget request is up 13 percent even though student enrollment is projected to decrease by 1,250 students this fall. County Manager Rick Hester has proposed funding the school system $72.5 million. The 3-on-3 meeting is planned to try and work out the difference.
Additionally, Johnston County Schools will have a projected $20 million in reserve funding in the bank by June 30, 2021 in part because of excess federal CARES ACT funding and reduced expenses because of the pandemic. The school board wants to keep the full $20 million in reserves while asking commissioners to fully fund their budget increase.
NC House Vote
On May 12th, the NC House voted 66-48 to pass a bill that would prohibit the exclusive teaching of Critical Race Theory in North Carolina public school classrooms. Democrats called the measure anti-American and hateful, while Republicans countered that it was focused on ensuring equity in schools.
Lt. Governor: CRT Seeks To Divide Us
After the May vote, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson said, “North Carolina’s school children should be taught how to think—not what to think. Radical leftists complain that this legislation is ‘white-washing history’ and ‘academic apartheid.’ Students should absolutely learn the horrific facts associated with slavery, Jim Crow, and other dark times in our nation’s history. They should not, however, be subjected to pseudo-science social justice initiatives like the ‘1619 Project’ and ‘Critical Race Theory,’ which seek to divide us along racial lines and teach that the systems of our Republic and the history of our great American experiment are shameful.”
“Our children, regardless of their background, should know that it is their shared and diverse experiences that make America great, and learning about those experiences should bring them together—not drive them apart,” Robinson added. “This legislation ensures that our students will be taught that we all have value, regardless of who we are—or who our ancestors were.”