(The Center Square) – U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop has introduced legislation to allow students to change schools if mask mandates or critical race theory curriculum are implemented.

Bishop, R-N.C., introduced the Masks Off Act and the No Corrupt Racist Training (No CRT) Act. 

The measures would allow parents to demand federal education dollars be redirected to a private school, homeschool or other education expenses if a school enacts the mask and race theory policies.

“Federal education dollars should follow America’s students, not the system,” Bishop said in a statement. “This should be true in all cases, but especially if a school is forcing masks on children or teaching divisive critical race theory. If such mandates or indoctrinating curricula are in place, then families should be able to do what is best for their own kids and have the freedom to pursue alternative education options.”

The Masks Off Act would allow students in school districts with mask mandates to be eligible for “opportunity grants” to seek other education options. The No CRT Act would provide the grants to students who attend schools promoting critical race theory. 

The federal government would redirect 10% of appropriated funding from Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Bishop’s office said the amount of the grants would be based on annual income.

Critical race theory is centered around the idea that race is a social construct used to oppress people of color. It was developed by legal scholars in the late 1970s and 1980s and concludes racism in America is systemic.

The theory gained new notoriety in response to the 1619 Project, a New York Times multimedia piece that connects slavery to capitalism.

The Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly approved a bill Sept. 1 that would have banned some critical race theory concepts from being taught in public schools. It was later vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

North Carolina students and staff are not currently required to wear masks, but it is recommended under the state’s public health guidance. Cooper has allowed local school leaders to dictate protocols in their schools.

The number of children homeschooled in North Carolina jumped nearly 21% during the pandemic, a recent North Carolina Department of Administration report shows.

According to a John Locke Foundation and Civitas poll released from January, a majority of North Carolinians support school choice. The survey results showed 82% of 950 bipartisan voters believed parents should have the ability to select the school their child attends. 

Critics contend private schools promote religious agendas. Others say opportunity scholarships absorb funds that should be used for traditional schools.

“These bills will reallocate a small percentage of federal K-12 dollars to give families in need greater educational freedom and opportunity,” the American Federation for Children said.

According to the most-recent data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 6,132 COVID-19 cases were reported among school-aged children the week of Sept. 12.

The agency’s dashboard shows 21,005 – or 6% – of the 350,086 North Carolinians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are between 12 years old and 17 years old. The cohort accounts for 8% of the state’s total population. 

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