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NC Teacher Gets Justice After Being Fired for Critiquing CRT

In 2022, Dr. David Phillips and Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against North Carolina Department of Public Instruction after Dr. Phillips was fired for critiquing critical race theory while teaching three optional seminars at the prestigious North Carolina Governor’s School. On April 25th, almost three years after his termination, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced a favorable settlement of Dr. Phillips’s lawsuit and filed a voluntary dismissal of the case, Phillips v. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, with the Wake County Superior Court. In accordance with the settlement, the Governor’s School “has paid Dr. Phillips approximately four years of his annual stipend and adopted a policy to respect faculty free speech in its elective seminars.”

In 2021, Dr. Phillips was wrongfully terminated from his teaching position at the Governor’s School after teaching three optional seminars applying critical thinking to critical race theory. Dr. Phillips was in his ninth summer as an English instructor at the school. Given the prevalence and popularity of Critical Race Theory in education and news media, Dr. Phillips offered students—and other instructors—an opportunity to approach the topic with critical thinking in optional seminars. This was in keeping with the school’s expressed practice of “Focus[ing] on the exploration of the most recent ideas and concepts in each discipline.”

According to ADF, “The policy affirms the Governor’s School’s desire ‘to offer elective seminars that present a wide range of viewpoints.’ And it states that the school ‘accords faculty members the freedom and responsibility to craft academic and intellectual experiences that reflect their unique viewpoints and expertise.’” ADF Senior Counsel Hal Frampton, whom we interviewed about this case, stated, “We’re pleased to favorably settle this case on his behalf. Now, the Governor’s School’s policy rightly respects teachers’ freedom of speech, which greatly benefits all students and families.”

Critical race theory is a problematic and divisive ideology that divides people by race and defines subpopulations as oppressors and victims. Such ideologies need to be critiqued and are readily refuted with critical thinking, especially with a Biblical worldview. Cases like these are important for protecting both free speech and critical thinking. “Teachers shouldn’t be fired for fostering intellectual diversity on campus. A good education includes providing students with a wide range of differing viewpoints to explore,” said Frampton. As we approach National Teacher Appreciation Week next week, we are grateful for teachers like Dr. David Phillips, who continue to provide their students with opportunities for critical thinking and who advance the pursuit of truth in their classrooms.

If you want to hear about how Dr. Phillips was fired in his own words, see this video:


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