Questions Surrounding Transparency from F.A.C.T.S. Task Force Group

Mirroring the well-funded, coordinated effort by the GOP across our country, in recent months top North Carolina Republicans have focused on racialized fearmongering to distract from their continued effort to underfund K-12 public education and the state’s university system.

Most notably, one cog within the manufactured crisis comes from North Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s initiative dubbed “Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students” (F.A.C.T.S.) which came in part due to the State Board of Education adopting new social studies standards that Robinson opposed.

The task force held its first and only meeting in June this year and was closed to the press and the public. The task force did not give 48 hours notice for the meeting and it did not create any records of who attended the meeting and what was discussed. According to multiple experts, the secretive meeting did not meet the standard of North Carolina’s open meeting laws, thus violating state law

  • State law defines a public body as “any elected or appointed authority … that (i) is composed of two or more members and (ii) exercises or is authorized to exercise a legislative, policy-making, quasi-judicial, administrative, or advisory function.”
  • The F.A.C.T.S. task force has 15 members, five of whom are state or local elected officials, according to a list provided by the lieutenant governor’s office in May. (Of the 13 whose voter registrations I located, two are Democrats.) They all appear to have been selected by Robinson, according to The Assembly.
  • “Those criteria check the law’s boxes for a public body, according to Brooks Fuller, director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition at Elon University. “I’d make the argument that it’s a public body based on what we know now,” Fuller said. “It is a group of two or more members appointed to exercise an advisory function to the lieutenant governor.”
  • Not only is Robison using the task force to assert his own control on how students are taught across the state, through the latest House budget, Republican leaders have incorporated several of Robinson’s controversial measures for his own political gain — including giving $120,000 to Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson for an “education advisor” position while teachers receive a measly 5.5% raise and most other state employees would get 5% raises over the next two years.

When it comes to transparency, Republican leaders within the state have a long track record of keeping North Carolinians and journalists out of their backdoor dealings. These same legislators are also choosing to censor teachers over fulfilling our state’s constitutional obligation to provide a “sound basic education” to every student — which has yet to be fulfilled over twenty years later.

With Lt. Gov. Robinson’s task force, the pattern continues with yet another GOP leader pushing harmful measures without the input from North Carolina families, educators or students. 

Bottom Line:

While Robinson trots out his committee’s “findings” this week, we are left to wonder how these findings were developed and who was in the room. 

The irony is a committee whose goal was to illuminate teachings happening in the classroom did so without any transparency or openness into its own practices. 

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Alanna Joyner

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