By David Bass
Carolina Journal News Service
RALEIGH —Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson announced on March 16 the creation of a task force dedicated to giving “students, parents, and school faculty a voice to speak out about cases of bias, inappropriate materials, or indoctrination they see or experience in public schools.”
The F.A.C.T.S task force — standing for Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students — is an advisory board composed of education professionals, including teachers, administrators, and university professors. Robinson, a Republican, officially announced the task force at a news conference on the steps of the Hawkins-Hartness House in downtown Raleigh.
“We want this task force to be a resource for parents and students who feel they are unable to tackle the issues they are facing in their schools,” Robinson said. “School is supposed to be a safe place to go to for the purpose of instruction.”
“The task force will seek to compile and assess legitimate reports from across the state, assist those who need help navigating the bureaucratic process surrounding education, and provide a platform to disseminate information regarding indoctrination in public schools,” Robinson added.
Dr. Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation, is an appointed member of the task force advisory board.
“I look forward to working with students and parents who find that their assigned public school creates an environment that is inhospitable to diverse perspectives,” Stoops said.
“Public school classrooms should be welcoming to all students, particularly when state standards require students to discuss difficult topics. When that does not occur, the F.A.C.T.S. task force is there to help. The task force is not designed to police schools. It has been established to advocate on behalf of families.”
At the news conference, Robinson underscored that the task force is not targeting public education itself. “This is not an indictment on education,” he said. “The vast majority of our teachers in this state and nation are good. They go to work every day, work hard, and are there for the benefit of students and parents.”
N.C. Rep. David Willis, R-Union, joined Robinson on Tuesday. He said he attended public schools in North Carolina from pre-school through community college and the university system.
“I don’t recall a point in time where I knew any of my teacher or professors’ political views or party affiliations. It wasn’t relevant to what we were there for,” Willis said. “We were there to learn to read and to write. I think we’ve strayed from that over the past couple of years.”
Robinson’s move comes just over a month after the N.C. State Board of Education approved a sweeping rewrite of the state’s social studies standards to teach nearly every aspect of American history through the lens of racism and discrimination. Robinson was joined by other Republican members of the education board in criticizing the revisions.
“These standards are divisive, and there are still serious questions around them,” Robinson said at the time.