North Dakota is trying to censor classroom discussion

House Bill 1508 has no place in our schools.

Every student should have the right to receive an equitable education and have an open and honest dialogue about America’s history.

House Bill 1508 wouldn’t allow this to happen.

This proposed policy would only censor academic discussions about American history and race in North Dakota public school classrooms.

Education is a tool of empowerment put to its highest use when teachers and students are given the full scope of their constitutional rights to engage in comprehensive, meaningful and sometimes difficult conversations. House Bill 1508 is a direct affront to the constitutional rights of teachers and students across North Dakota by restricting conversations around race in our schools.

This bill is intended to inflame a political reaction, not further a legitimate educational interest.

The First Amendment protects the right to share ideas, including the right of individuals to receive information and knowledge. This bill oversteps the state government’s legitimate authority by imposing curriculum restrictions that should remain with local districts. Instead of encouraging learning, House Bill 1508 effectively gags educators and students from talking about issues of the most profound national importance, such as the impact of systemic racism in our society. Simply put, this is a blatant attempt to suppress speech about race that some may disfavor.

This bill treats honest and frank discussions of race and its place in American history as a threat and attempts to censor classroom conversations. This is particularly egregious in consideration of the North Dakota government’s turbulent history with Indigenous people who have been here since before colonization.

House Bill 1508 demonstrates the very need for the types of education our legislature is trying to prohibit.

A copy of our written testimony opposing House Bill 1508 was submitted to the Joint Technical Corrections Committee. A downloadable copy is below.