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Legislative roundup | State Board approves social studies supporting documents

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The State Board of Education approved a variety of supporting documents today for the controversial new social studies standards it approved in February.

In a 7-3 vote, the Board gave a thumbs up to “K-5 unpacking documents,” “K-12 crosswalks,” and “K-12 strand maps,” associated with the new social studies standards. The “6-12 unpacking documents,” will be taken up in July.

Learn more about all of those here.

There was strong disagreement between Board members over the adoption of new social studies standards back in January and February. Ultimately, the standards were adopted but in a close 7-5 vote.

Many of the same people voted against the supporting documents today, though not all the Board members who voted against the actual standards were present for today’s vote. Board members Olivia Oxendine, Todd Chasteen, and Amy White all voted no today. They were all appointed by previous Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Republican Treasurer Dale Folwell and Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson were not in attendance for the vote. Robinson was one of the most vocal opponents of the standards, though since their adoption he hasn’t contributed much to public Board discussion over the supporting documents.

Learn more about the debate over the supporting documents in our previous coverage here.

At today’s meeting, Oxendine expressed concern about what she said were omissions in the documents, noting, for example, that they don’t mention Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman justice of the United States Supreme Court.

In response, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said that the supporting documents aren’t meant to be an exhaustive list of what can be taught on the standards. It is up to local districts to decide the specifics of what they teach, she said.

Board member Wendell Hall wondered if students ask questions about topics such as racism and gender, can the teacher explore the concept with students during instruction.

Truitt, who recommended approval of the documents and said she had seen them all, said nothing about the supporting documents precludes teachers from discussing whatever they want.

State Board Chair Eric Davis said during the run-up to the discussion that the Board is not seeking a delay of implementation of the standards. A bill that passed the House this month, however, could do just that.

Senate education

A Senate education committee met this week and gave favorable votes to a number of bills. They are:

Consensus revenue forecast

The big news this week was the release of the consensus revenue forecast, which revealed the state is looking at $6.5 billion in excess revenues for the biennium running through 2022-23.

See what Gov. Cooper and legislative leaders had to say about the surplus here.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.