From Orwellian Censorship of Teachers to Cronyism – Remembering Rep. Justin Burr’s “Movies Shown” Bill

Remember Rep. Justin Burr, the five-time incumbent to the North Carolina General Assembly who was defeated in his primary for another term in 2018?

He filed a bill in the General Assembly last summer to force local school boards to provide a list of all movies shown in any classroom in the district to the state superintendent’s office.

movie bill

A man who belongs to a party that prides itself on “smaller government” wanted to keep tabs on every video used for instruction even when he had no idea of what using supplementary materials in class involves.

A man who helped enable a budget to be crafted secretly and passed without representation wanted to make sure that Raleigh knew what is being displayed on screens in classrooms.

A man who supported actions like HB541 that will pass costs of properly funding schools to local systems wanted the local systems to tell Raleigh how they were spending the money they now must raise on their own.

A man who espoused such conservative views that he would want to add to the already existent checks and balances of each school system that already had guidelines on showing videos.

A man who while in office had not helped to return textbook funding to appropriate levels but wanted to spend money to create another government eye on the actions of each classroom.

And he is back!

This is in the current budget being sent to the governor in 2019:


Want to know who the executive director is? Former Rep. Justin Burr.

From reporter Travis Fain:

A few lines in the $24 billion state budget moving through the General Assembly this week would give a former lawmaker a $52,000 raise.

Former Rep. Justin Burr lost his re-election bid last year in a Republican primary. He started as executive director of the state’s Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council earlier this year after some back and forth in 2018 over just what the salary would be for a position the legislature created in 2017.

An effort to boost that salary eventually fell out of last year’s budget, and Burr makes about $62,000 a year.

The proposed budget that won initial approval in both the House and the Senate on Wednesday would raise that salary to $113,057 and exempt the position from some of the state’s human resources rules.

That’s just juicy. And it makes this teacher want to review what videos he shows in the classroom that might help to teach this use of government abuse as it is represented in literature.

As an English teacher who teaches novels and has a curriculum that asks students to confront social issues, I thought I would go ahead and submit my list of movies that I might want to show students in class to enhance instructional opportunities. So I am providing my list of videos in honor of former Rep. Burr’s failed 2018 bill in hopes that it will elucidate what is happening in 2019’s budget.

And do not think that I am being sarcastic. It’s just verbal irony, which is a rhetorical term and part of the curriculum. But you may take it satirically because satire is also a term we must explain to students.

  • All The King’s Men – This could be used to show how state governments can get to the point that some see it as their little kingdom immune from law. Maybe change Willie Starks’s name to….
  • Animal Farm – This Orwellian allegory could help students realize that in a state where “all are equal” under the law, the General Assembly has decided to make some “more equal” than others.
  • Wall Street – This would help students understand that in Raleigh some politicians run by the mantra that “Greed is good.”
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – Maybe he could go to Raleigh as well?
  • Wag the Dog – This one shows how government can run on a false narrative that tries to cover the actual truth.
  • Promised Land – Isn’t there some talk of fracking going on in the state? Burr is representing nature in his new job.
  • An Inconvenient Truth – Again, Burr is representing the environment in some degree.

With that extra $50K in salary, Burr should be able to have the technology to partake of these films as he finishes his first year on his job.

And that extra $50K raise is almost enough to actually to finance a teacher with over 30 years of experience on the teacher salary schedule submitted in the same budget.