North Carolina

NC: Gov. McCrory Appoints Advocate of Censorship to State Board of Education

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In reference to North Carolina, you can never say “it can’t get worse.” It always can, as long as Pat McCrory is Governor and the Tea Party extremists control the legislature.

Governor McCrory named a new member of the state board of education: J. Todd Chasten. His major qualification appears to be his role in efforts to ban a book from the English honors class in his district.

The North Carolina General Assembly will vote on his nomination tomorrow.

NC Policy Watch reports:

Governor Pat McCrory’s recent nomination of J. Todd Chasteen to serve on the State Board of Education has raised the eyebrows of some western North Carolinians.

A Boone resident who appears to have a thin record of experience with public education, Chasteen was deeply involved last year in efforts to ban a book from a public high school English classroom in Watauga County.

“We should reject Governor McCrory’s recent nomination of Wataugan J. Todd Chasteen to the North Carolina Board of Education,” said Appalachian State University English professor Craig Fischer at a public forum at the university earlier this week, objecting to Chasteen’s lack of experience in public education.

“Chasteen sided with would-be censors during last year’s battle over keeping Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits in the sophomore English Honors curriculum at Watauga High,” Fischer added. “He spoke on behalf of banning the book at a February 10, 2014 school board local forum about the controversy, claiming–inaccurately–that Allende’s book is full of ‘deviancy’ and child pornography.”

Chasteen, an attorney and executive with Boone-based international aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, not only spoke publicly for removing The House of the Spirits from the classroom, but also lobbied the eventual tie-breaking board of education member, Ron Henries, in person and via email in an effort to persuade him to vote for banning the book, according to emails obtained by N.C. Policy Watch.

This is the mission statement of his organization:

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He is obviously a man drawn to charitable, faith-based work. But he has no particular qualification to sit on the state board of education. His activity in the book-banning controversy was sufficient to recommend him to McCrory as right for the state board of education.

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