June Atkinson is the superintendent of public instruction for North Carolina. But when it comes to how the state tests children, the Republican House Majority Leader in the state says that she should “stick to her own knitting.”
Rep. Paul Stam (R) made that sexist comment in response to Atkinson’s criticism of the state legislature’s recent move to change testing requirements. The new system would allow different schools to offer different tests and let some small schools opt out of reporting results. “The public needs a consistent measure of reading achievement in particular,” Atkinson pointed out.
But instead of addressing the substance of her argument, Stam simply told the North Carolina News and Observer that “She should stick to her own knitting” — a turn of phrase that not only has sexist implications, but also ignores the fact that education is Atkinson’s proverbial “knitting.”
This isn’t the first time Stam has made offensive comments about marginalized groups. During the state’s debate over marriage equality in 2011, he referred to gay couples as “things” that “can be treated differently if the things or people are in a very different relationship.”