Pushback against critical race theory in schools from concerned parents has been on the rise as of late, with many calling to prohibit such ideas from being taught to young children.
Staff members at the North Carolina Early Learning Network, NC-ELN, attempted to avoid such criticism by replacing "red flag" buzzwords with terms that would mask the true nature of a series of seminars developed to provide "equitable, anti-racist, and culturally responsive early care."
The revelations were first brought to light by No Left Turn in Education, NLTE, an organization of concerned parents whose goal is to "push back on the Leftist agenda sweeping into public education and to underscore the ideals and values that make our country exceptional."
According to emails obtained by the group, while the NC-ELN were developing training for E3, "early education equity," in 2021, they deliberately swapped out "red flag" buzzwords to avoid criticism from parents and concerned citizens.
"I do wonder if we need to think about any of the content we are planning to share as part of the E3 Cohort just to be sure we aren't using any terminology that would create red flags," NC-ELN Director Sherri Williams wrote to Preschool Exceptional Children Co-Coordinator Dawn Meskil.
Along with their colleague Janet Sockwell and others, Williams and Meskil came up with a list of "red flag" terms and their replacements.
The list included terms such as "whiteness," "inequity," "racial equity" and "people of color."
In their place, the team suggested "narrow social norms," "educational equity," "cultural equity," and "different races and ethnicities."
"There likely will be some who are offended and if [keynote speaker Dr Iheoma Iruka] uses terms like structural racism and anything related to CRT, it could come back to them," Sockwell said. "Don't get me wrong. I agree with everything she says, I just am concerned about it."
"I suggested we not list her keynote title or description in the proposal," Sockwell added.
Dr Iruka's involvement in the Exceptional Children Preschool Institute's 2021 conference was given the green light by the Department of Public Instruction, which works alongside the NC-ELN.
Later, in January 2022, the State School Board of Education approved a multi-million dollar contract with UNC researchers to develop more equity programming for the NC-ELN, however following pushback over language used by the group, NC-ELN once again set forth replacing or removing controversial content.
President of No Left Turn in Education North Carolina Chapter, Nancy Andersen, was not pleased. "This pattern of deceit is unacceptable and shows the extreme measures education bureaucrats take to hide usage of taxpayer dollars in pushing race-based ideologies onto our most vulnerable kids," she said. "North Carolina early literacy rates are abysmal, but the Office of Early Learning is focused on misdirecting funds for race-essentialism in pre-K."