Who says blog posts don’t have impact?
Yesterday, August 24, we shared a post: “Our Work Cut Out For Us – A Preview of 2024 Governor’s Race in NC.”
It got close to 40 “hits,” small stuff on the big web, but not bad for a “local” news item.
The post concerned a new book that will be out next month, by NC Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, a very conservative Republican who is preparing a likely run for governor in 2024.
In the book, We Are the Majority, Robinson declares that, as part of his efforts to clean up public education in the state, he would drop studies of science and social studies from curricula through fifth grade:
“In those grades,” Robinson wrote, “we don’t need to be teaching social studies. We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to talk about equity and social justice.”
There’s more, much more, in the text and the post (as a local paper said, Robinson “has a reputation for making incendiary and controversial comments.”)
But that particular declaration seemed to raise eyebrows and hackles. Less than 24 hours after our post was up, and a longer report was on WRAL TV, — well, Robinson was singing something of a different tune.
As noted in the August 25 Raleigh NC News & Observer:
NC’s Mark Robinson backs off his call to stop teaching science in elementary school
BY LUCIANA PEREZ URIBE GUINASSI UPDATED AUGUST 24, 2022
When North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson spoke on education at a round-table event Tuesday night in downtown Durham, he didn’t publicly broach a topic likely to have been on many attendees’ minds: a call in his upcoming book for eliminating science and history from the first through fifth-grade curriculum and shuttering the State Board of Education.
In the book, set to be published on Sept. 13, Robinson writes that schools should “demand proficiency in reading, writing, and math in grades one through five. In those grades, we don’t need to be teaching social studies. We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to talk about equity and social justice.”
Following the public panel, The News & Observer asked him about that stance.
Robinson said he didn’t want to discuss the book at the event and that he or his representatives would talk separately.
But shortly afterward, in comments to CBS-17 at the event, he appeared to backtrack from at least one statement in the book. He told the station he was not saying that science, at least, should be eliminated from the curriculum, but instead that proficiency in reading and mathematics should be the priority.
“We’re not talking about not teaching science to elementary school children,” he said Tuesday. “What we’re talking about is putting reading, writing and arithmetic – making that paramount in elementary school.”
Robinson, who is the top Republican in North Carolina’s executive branch, has a reputation for making incendiary and controversial comments. A viral 2018 speech on gun rights started his political career, and just two years later he was elected by voters as the state’s first Black lieutenant governor.
It’s apt that Robinson, er, adjusted his statement in Durham. He was speaking just a stone’s throw from science-intensive Research Triangle Park, which modestly claims to be “the largest research park in the U.S.,” and only a block or two from the mammoth high-rise Duke Clinical Research Institute; to mention only a couple the city’s science-related landmarks. One could also mention that “social studies” are the focus of several other local institutions, such as the art museum with its striking civil rights mural.
For that matter, in Raleigh, the town Robinson hopes to take over in the 2024 election, science also seems to be, you know, a thing. In 2017, when science, especially government science, was under assault from a know-nothing White House occupant, Raleigh hosted a stunning and inventive pro-science march.
It begins to look as if Robinson might be making some last-minute revisions to his book text; lucky for him, science has made it possible to do such things even as the presses are getting ready to roll.
So science in Carolina may save Robinson’s bacon this time. And science in Carolina is something the next governor better not ignore or slight, from kindergarten up. I’m pretty sure some would-be candidates already understand that.