Art Pope's foundation funds a group that provides conservative history lessons.
Art Pope's foundation funds a group that provides conservative history lessons.

Are NC schools teaching Art Pope's version of history?

This week, Durham, N.C.-based Indy Week reported that North Carolina's leading education agency was promoting a curious resource for teachers in public schools: the Bill of Rights Institute, a Virginia-based nonprofit founded by the conservative Koch brothers.

The Bill of Rights Institute was listed in a presentation by N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson to a state Senate education committee, which included proposals for the curriculum of "American History I: The Founding Principles," a course mandated by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011.

Indy Week looks at the involvement of the Koch brothers, who launched the Institute in 1999 to distribute conservative-leaning lesson plans and other materials for teaching U.S. history, as well as the involvement of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch-backed conservative policy group.

But there's a more direct connection between the Bill of Rights Institute and North Carolina: Art Pope, the North Carolina-based Republican mega-donor, conservative philanthropist and current state budget director for Gov. Pat McCrory (R).

Federal tax records show that Art Pope's family foundation has given at least $370,000 to the Bill of Rights Institute since 2000. The John William Pope Foundation's grants to the Institute have increased as Art Pope himself took a bigger leadership role in the family foundation.

This isn't surprising: Pope has worked closely with the Koch brothers for years, funding many of the same organizations and making the invite list for secretive strategy retreats hosted by the Kansas energy billionaires.

Until recently, Pope was also chair of the Tea Party advocacy group Americans for Prosperity; Pope's foundation has been the second-largest backer of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, with the Koch brothers being the largest funders.

Pope and his network of groups have been deeply involved in North Carolina school issues, leading the charge for expanding charter schools in the state and taking an active role in a debate in Wake County over the local school system's desegregation policy.

State Rep. Paul Luebke (D) called the Bill of Rights Institute's curriculum a "decidedly conservative analysis of the U.S. Constitution." For example, the Indy cites a lesson distributed by the group on gun control:

A recent lesson plan on gun rights following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting in December included questions referencing popular conservative talking points but only briefly noted the central point of pro-gun control arguments -- that limiting access to guns will curb gun violence.

"Some regulations have been criticized as criminalizing the behavior of millions of law-abiding Americans because of the criminal acts of others," the plan said. "Should laws be based on harm/intended harm, or also on the potential to do harm?"

A lesson plan on Obama's 2010 health care overhaul challenged students to question whether it was "ultimately unconstitutional."

It's not clear which North Carolina schools, if any, are using the Institute's course materials; that decision is up to local teachers. In any case, Atkinson at the Department of Public Instruction told the Indy that it's important for any materials being offered to students to be balanced in their perspective:

"When we are talking about materials to be used in the classroom, we need to make sure that they align with the curriculum, that they do not show biases, and if they do, that there is a counter to that."

Art Pope's foundation funds a group that provides conservative history lessons.
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Gun Rights

As bad as I feel about Art Pope & the Koch brothers, you gotta admit he has a point. I'm a trucker of 31 years. In the 90's my industry attracted many from a generation who used drugs. As a solution to this Congress mandated that because a few used them ALL buss,truck & train operators would be required to take drug tests. Some states like Arkansas became over zealous in enforcing the collection of urine samples requiring both male & female drivers to submit a sample on the side of the road without benefit of privacy & under the watchful eye of the test administrator.
I know for a fact that the Army asked for volunteers to accompany soldiers to the bathroom so they could be observed while making their donation. I,personally question the type of person who would volunteer for this kind of assignment in the days before "Don't Ask,Don't Tell."
The results of these tests were overwhelmingly negative proving that many were being accused of using drugs by being tested while only a few were actually using the drugs. Of those who's results came back positive the vast majority of them were proven to be using marijuana which would be the least harmful when compared to heroin,cocaine,LSD or amphetamines or even alcohol. The reason being that marijuana stayed in your system for as long as 2 months (depending on the testing method used) & the others could easily be flushed out of your system in as little as a day.So, they were catching the few that were doing the least harmful drug while those ingesting psychoactive notions were getting away.
The reason for the testing "THEY" said was to save lives but the people who passed laws affecting the lives of thousands,hundreds of thousands,even millions were immune from the testing. I'm talking about Congress,state legislatures & local councils. This has always been my subject of contention with these laws.
What has this got to do with guns? Well here again millions are being "accused by association" of not being law abiding,conscientious, mature,responsible citizens because they own guns.
We're being treated like elementary school students where the whole class is punished because of the actions of a few. Yes, when you compare the number of registered gun owners with the number of gun crimes committed by registered gun owners, especially the number of gun crimes involving semi & fully automatic weapons.
Please notice I used the term "registered gun owners" to describe both sides of the equation. No law can be passed to prevent deaths by gun committed by unlawful wielders of illegal weapons. What proposed new laws do is make heretofore law abiding citizens criminals.It makes it easier for violent law breakers to commit their heinous acts by making it harder for the legal gun owner to defend himself.
I was with a lot of other people who said that gun crimes would go up when Florida created concealed carry laws. They haven't. I'm surprised but they haven't. I thought these gun nuts would be shooting each other over every perceived insult. They haven't. There might even have been an increase of civility in those states that have these concealed carry laws. Might not be for the reasons w want but it is a start.
It's been said many times & I might be jeopardizing my case by saying it again but the guns don't have a mind of their own. Many,many localities make the first place to make financial cut backs was in the mental health funding. Is it any wonder that people who are unable to receive the counselling they need but find unavailable are doing things that they wouldn't do if they received that help. How 'bout this as a first step. Before doing anything about guns, restore the funding in mental health. If things don't go back the way they were then do something legitimate about guns. The worst thing that could happen is people who need help are going to get it.

drug screens and others

Your points are well-made and valid. But it's another case of "whose ox is being gored." Drug screens have been proposed in many places for anyone receiving public assistance (food stamps, TANF, etc) by otherwise well-meaning people who truly believe that most people the many myths about welfare recipients.

Drug screens are pro-forma for many, if not most jobs in the country as well. Costs prevent many companies from administering them (a proper drug screen is not cheap and it's simply not cost-effective for every newcomer) but most employers inform new employees that they are subject to a random test at any time.

Laws aimed at public safety are not "punishment" any more than taxing property owners without children to support public education or requiring good drivers to carry insurance. The same goes for requiring cyclists to wear safety helmets. All the statistics in the world make poor arguments against a common sense approach to a serious and growing problem. When gun violence starts to decrease then we have done something right. Until then, all efforts to ameliorate the problem are on the table. Among others, I like the idea of requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance as well as tracking all gun sales, private and public, in the same way that narcotics (probably less lethal, certainly less dangerous to others, than guns) are controlled.

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