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Victory for NC bishops as state abandons plan to compare pro-life laws to segregation

Catholic World News - February 22, 2010

In a victory for North Carolina’s bishops, officials of the state’s Department of Public Instruction have altered a draft civics and economic curriculum that compared pro-life laws to segregation.

The draft curriculum contained the following “formative assessment prototype”: “Using three Supreme Court Cases (e.g., Brown v Board, Roe v Wade, Korematsu v US) as support explain how the US Supreme Court has upheld rights against oppressive government.”

Brown v Board of Education of Topeka was the 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down laws permitting segregated schools; Roe v Wade was the 1973 decision that struck down pro-life legislation across the nation.

“If this text is approved, children taking this course will be asked to explain how Roe v. Wade is an example supporting the way the Supreme Court upheld rights against oppressive government,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh and Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte noted in a February 11 statement. “As a voice united on behalf of the unborn who have a right to life, a fundamental human right, we oppose this draft statement and ask you to join us in making the Department of Public Instruction aware of our opposition.”

After more than 1,800 Catholics expressed their opposition, the department removed the controversial text from the curriculum. “With great joy we inform you that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has removed any reference to Roe v. Wade from the essential standards and prototype assessments found in the draft versions of the proposed social studies curriculum,” the bishops said on February 18.

The proposed curricular change follows the 2008 election of North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, and Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, all of whom received the endorsement of NARAL (formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League) because of their support for legalized abortion.

The controversy over the civics curriculum is not the only recent issue that has raised questions about the state’s Department of Public Instruction. The state’s revised US history curriculum would have eliminated the study of pre-1877 American history during the high school years; that curricular change was also abandoned after intense grass-roots opposition. In addition, State Superintendent June Atkinson recently announced that all statewide mathematics tests would incorporate a framework developed by a firm whose president, Malbert Smith, donated $2,000 to her election campaign.

Only 4.3% of the state’s 9.2 million residents are Catholic.

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  • Posted by: kmbold - Feb. 23, 2010 3:54 PM ET USA

    This is a splendid example of a bishop doing his job.

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