Commentary: No Schools are Safe from Critical Race Theory – Even in Tennessee

Downtown Franklin, Tennessee
by Roger Simon


Williamson County? Never heard of it. What’s the big deal?

Well, a lot.

Williamson County, Tennessee is what you might call “Republican Heaven.” Just south of Democrat-stronghold Nashville, much of it is a gorgeous suburb, home to the likes of country star Luke Bryan of “American Idol” fame – on an 150 acre estate – and Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Its county seat, Franklin, has a downtown straight out of an updated version of Norman Rockwell, the kind of place you can get both great barbecue and haute cuisine.

That small city and county are growing like crazy in large part because they are also supposed to have one of the best public school systems in the country.

Supposed to…

‘Moms for Liberty’

I had lunch the other day with two Williamson women who have just formed that county’s branch of a new movement for parental rights (mostly focused on schools) called “Moms for Liberty.”

Their chapter is growing even faster than Williamson County itself because they, and many others, are angry about what was going on in those very schools. You might even say furious.

One of the women, local founder Robin Steenman, is a retired Air Force officer who piloted B-1 bombers over Afghanistan. The other, Lori Friedheim, a Filipina-American UC Berkeley graduate in the sciences, is the chapter’s director of research.

Ms. Friedheim and her husband – who had been living in a San Francisco suburb and were fed up with the deteriorating lifestyle, not to mention the taxes – decided to move to Franklin because, after an extensive online search, determined it to have the best schools of anywhere in all the low tax, needless to say red, states.

She was in for a shock—as was Robin Steenman who also had children in the schools.

While Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee and the heavily Republican legislature trumpet their resistance to critical race theory in the state’s educational system, the reality on the ground is, as the French say, “toute autre chose” – something else again.

Life isn’t always what you see on Hannity.

Happening Everywhere

Before going into the details of what’s being taught, and has been for several years, in those schools, I want to reiterate why I wrote “Et Tu, Williamson County.”

If this type of propaganda can take over the elementary years in a place with such an educated, well-to-do, largely conservative populace, it is undoubtedly happening everywhere, or nearly everywhere, in the public schools, and most of the private and parochial schools, of this country.

Many think our country is already changing rapidly in front of our eyes, but nowhere is it changing more rapidly, and in a Marxist direction, than in our schools.

That will produce the end of the United States of America as we know it as surely and as quickly as anything. In fact, it already has.

It’s not a question of just stopping this. It’s a question of rolling back what has already happened.

Critical race theory—the concept that we are all permanently defined by our skin color, not our character— has been there for years in an only slightly covert manner.

‘Injustice’ for Second Graders

And, as Robin Steenman explained to me, it’s getting worse, that is more overt, in Williamson County. In March 2020, their school board approved a curriculum called “Wit and Wisdom,” of all seemingly harmless things, published by an outfit named Great Minds, LLC. (In this case they really do think alike!)

Here’s only a sampling of what Williamson second graders (i. e. seven and eight-year olds) are in for starting in August with “Wit and Wisdom.” As you look at this, remember that this is the curriculum (and manner) through which, for months, these children are also being taught reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, civics, art, music and so forth:

“Lesson 1:

  1. Point out the word injustice.
  2. Explain that unfair and injustice mean the same thing.
  3. Injustice is a stronger word.
  4. Explain… how real people respond to injustice.
  5. Explore the word injustice.
  6. Reread… how real people respond to injustice?— Leave posted reference throughout the module.
  7. Echo read: What injustices did people face before the civil rights act of 1964?
  8. Point to the word injustice.
  9. Remind the class of the meaning of this word injustice.
  10. Explain… read… people fighting injustice. —Show students the images. What do you notice about the images? Share observations.
  11. Remind the meaning of injustice.
  12. Develop a non-verbal signal for injustice.”

Okay, you get the picture. It goes on for another dozen or so similar bullet points (and this is only Lesson 1), but I can’t resist one more because it makes clear the unremittingly depressing nature of this curriculum.

“15. Lesson on prefixes: injustice, unequal, inequality, unfair.”

Couldn’t they think of any positive prefixes for their lesson? How about supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?… Oh, I forgot. Mary Poppins is upbeat and white. Definitely not in the curriculum and unacceptable for today’s second graders. (Eugene “Bull” Connor, not surprisingly, is.)

The images referred to above for comment by the second graders are almost entirely black-and-whites from the early civil rights period showing black people being hosed by vicious whites with signs like “WE WANT WHITE TENANTS IN OUR WHITE COMMUNITY” and “WE WONT [GO TO SCHOOL WITH NEGROES]” – that last held by a proudly grinning white boy.

One of the images contained the “n-word” scrawled on a wall, something, I was told, none of the children even knew until then, naturally color blind as they were. Who says you never learn anything in school?

Creates Division

But how do seven and eight-year olds react to all this continually downbeat, violent material, emphasizing racial division above all, for hours and days on end?

Reports of growing numbers of children in therapy plus an increasing suicide rate abound, some of it due to COVID as well, but I heard a personal story that affected me particularly deeply.

I was at a recent, surprisingly well-attended “Moms for Liberty” meeting in Franklin at which an immigrant woman from Thailand, married to a Caucasian, spoke.

She read aloud a lengthy, heartfelt letter she wrote to Williamson County School Superintendent Jason Golden about the severe educational and emotional disturbances her mixed-race seven-year old son suffered from attending one of their schools. (To his parent’s consternation, the boy ended up despising his white half.) I quote her, in part:

“The story of Dr. King and his ‘I have a Dream’ speech is beautiful and uplifting. This is the world my child lived in until now. He was color blind. But this curriculum has changed that. It is far more harmful than helpful. It depresses him. It is dark and divisive. It paints a world with only white and black people. It paints a picture of poor black people being attacked by evil white people.”

She continues further on:

“Even more problematic, the teacher would not accept the non-racial, color blind answer from our son to a question she asked. So, the teacher asked again and again, looking for a different (acceptable) answer.”

Years ago, during Soviet times, I visited a Young Communist League Training School in the Crimea. They used a similar method.

The mother concludes:

“We expect 2nd graders to be learning basic educational concepts and not be force fed story after story of racial aggressions and evils committed in the past. This is not how we create a better world for our children. This curriculum only highlights race and creates further division among the new generation. We want our child to be colorblind and value people for who they are and not the color of their skin or for past evils or mistakes that other people made in history.”

Amen to that.

Child Abuse

What the mother wrote goes for all children, although those of mixed race clearly have a special problem – and there are an increasing number of those.

We can conclude that critical race theory and all its evil spawn in various curricula, such as those permeating the vaunted Williamson County schools, are little more than a form of child abuse, one so extreme that it promises to tear our country apart.

Indeed that is it’s not-so-hidden intention, given in its provenance in earlier schools of Marxism and critical theory. And it is succeeding all too well. As I said, if it’s happening in Williamson, it’s probably happening everywhere.

These “Moms for Liberty” are part of the solution, a big part since they are motivated by that strong natural urge for mothers to protect their children. And they’ve got a lot to protect them from these days.

This is a movement to applaud and strengthen as they are the ones who could really make our educational system, and therefore country, great again. They already have a number of chapters.

Locally, perhaps the mother from Thailand and Mr. Golden should switch roles.

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