DURHAM, N.C. — A nonprofit is gaining attention for its grant program that supports educators seeking to apply anti-racism efforts in their classrooms.
A hot issue among North Carolina voters right now is critical race theory, or CRT. The topic is being discussed on a daily basis, as states like Florida just banned more than 50 math books saying some contained CRT in them.
CRT is defined as examining the intersectionality of race, society and law. And while some people want it taught in schools, others don't.
Durham nonprofit we are, which stands for Working to Extend Antiracist Education, provides anti-racism training for children, families and educators. Its executive director, Ronda Taylor Bullock is fighting to make CRT accessible.
“We use a three-pronged approach to dismantle racism in education and beyond by offering summer camps for kids and rising first- through fifth-graders, professional development for educators and workshops for parents and families," Bullock said.
Bullock taught English for 10 years at Hillside High School in Durham. She then went on to earn her doctorate at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement Program before opening the nonprofit.
On Tuesday, the Wake County School Board granted permission for Millbrook High School to apply for one of we are's educator grants. On the board of education's grant proposal document it says this grant would, "promote relevant, rigorous, innovative, and comprehensive learning."
"We want to support educators with projects that disrupt racial discipline disparities, why would we not want that, right?" Bullock asked. "And then we want to support the creation of racial equity teams so that the work is ongoing."
State House Speaker Tim Moore is a vocal opponent of CRT and tweeted about his disapproval of Millbrook High School wanting to apply for this grant.
"It's disturbing because people are anti, anti-racism work," Bullock said. "And what that basically means is that you are for racism. Go ahead and say it and make it plain for people to understand.”
And how people feel about CRT is split.
According to an exclusive Spectrum News/IPSOS poll, 33% of N.C. registered voters support banning teaching CRT in N.C. public schools, 45% are against a ban, and 22% don't know how they feel about the issue.
Bullock thinks many people don't understand what CRT is. She explains it as a framework to teach people about the laws and policies in place that contribute to systemic racism.
"Slavery was legal, Jim Crow was legal, redlining was legal. So these are laws that are based on race, have cumulative impacts to this day," Bullock said. "So what critical race theory says is, let's look at those laws and policies and see how they have created disproportionate outcomes in housing, in wealth, in education, in all of these other spheres of our lives. It's part of our history, right? So we need to make that visible."
In September 2021 Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill from the Republican-led legislature that aimed at regulating how racism and anti-discrimination are taught in public schools.