Roger Barbee: Mark Robinson’s majority

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The lieutenant governor of North Carolina, Mark Robinson, has written his autobiography, “We Are the Majority: The Life and Passions of a Patriot,” which will soon be available to the general public. While I have not read the autobiography, I trust the reports of it that I have read and am concerned about two of Robinson’s ideas.

According to the website Public Schools First, NC, 1,429,275 students attended traditional public schools in North Carolina during the 2020-2021 school year, and charter school enrollment was 129,389 students for the same term.

Robinson writes “I would get rid of it [the State Board of Education]. We need to have one entity, one person, where the buck stops. Right now we have at least three: the school boards, the state superintendent of education and the local school systems — and none are truly answerable to the others. We need one entity to be in charge of education in the state so that when the legislature has questions and concerns, they can go to that single institution and expect to influence the way education is done.”

Perhaps Robinson, like so many politicians, is thinking of an authoritarian system where he or one of his flunkies can “influence the way education is done.”

A state legislature certainly is not qualified to “influence the way education is done.” And his idea of abolishing the state board does nothing about school boards, local systems and many more overseers of our public educational system. This idea of Robinson’s shows that he is a vote seeking politician masquerading as an educator.

.But what I find most disturbing is the above quotation from Robinson’s book. He would remove science and social studies from grades 1-5 curriculum. He writes  “In those grades, [1-5] we don’t need to be teaching social studies. We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to be talking about equity and social justice.” He writes that he would stress reading, writing and math.

I guess Robinson sees no need in a democracy having citizens well informed about its way of governance or its history or its geography. In a country that grows smaller and smaller because of the internet, we will need future citizens to be founded in those three areas of the social sciences, and even in more of them such as economics. And how can our future citizens be expected to participate in a democracy without a foundation in the sciences?

The study of science teaches critical thinking skills, and every democracy needs citizens who have that skill. All of these areas of study are best when introduced and built on at an early age, like the study of languages.

Robinson shows his ignorance of early education. Imagine how, for one instant, a first grade teacher can explain the importance of raising hands, taking turns, standing in line and not bullying a classmate without raising the subject of social justice. Public education is built on equity and social justice and is the foundation of our democracy.

Robinson’s ideas for public education are blubbering bluster that show his lack of knowledge about helping our children become tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. I suggest to Robinson this observation by an unknown educator responding to such silliness as his: “Just because you live in a house does not mean you are qualified to build one.”

Roger Barbee lives in Mooresville. Contact him at rogerbarbee@gmail.com.

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