Sunday, January 09, 2022

Moms for Liberty complaint about age-appropriateness and context of material taught to 2nd graders dismissed without a hearing.

by Rod Williams, Jan. 5, 2021 - In case you missed it, Moms for Liberty of Williamson County filed a
complaint with the State Department of Education a few months ago alleging that the Williamson County Schools were teaching Critical Race Theory.  The complaint was dismissed by the Department of Education on a technicality. Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden has denied that CRT is being taught in WCS. 

This is what the law says may not be taught in schools (link): 

(a) An LEA or public charter school shall not include or promote the following concepts as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or allow teachers or other employees of the LEA or public charter school to use supplemental instructional materials that include or promote the following concepts:

(1) One (1) race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;

(2) An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;

(3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex;

(4) An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex;

(5) An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;

(6) An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex;

(7) A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;

(8) This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;

(9) Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government;

(10) Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people;

(11) Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex;

(12) The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups;

(13) All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or

(14) Governments should deny to any person within the government's jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.

The law continues, however: 

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), this section does not prohibit an LEA or public charter school from including, as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or from allowing teachers or other employees of the LEA or public charter school to use supplemental instructional materials that include:

(1) The history of an ethnic group, as described in textbooks and instructional materials adopted in accordance with part 22 of this chapter;

(2) The impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history;

(3) The impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region; or

(4) Historical documents relevant to subdivisions (b)(1)-(3) that are permitted under § 49-6-1011.

I support the law.  It sounds reasonable to me.  Moms claimed that Williamson County Schools was violating this law. Here is an excerpt from their complaint:

I have not read any of the cited publications.  My gut reaction is that they are not objectionable if part of a balanced presentation and age-appropriate. I seriously doubt they rise to the level of constituting CRT or violating the law as stated above. 

Moms for Liberty claims in its complaint that the materials are not age-appropriate. According to the Moms complaint, the material is being presented as part of a nine-week module taught to second graders. Assuming this is true, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, that seems more like indoctrination rather than education.  Nine weeks?  Second graders?

By Second grade many children may know almost nothing of our history.  If a smaller module and taught to fifth graders, the material may very well be appropriate. I want children to be taught about slavery, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, the Trail of Tears, and the Japanese internment. However, the bad should not be taught before the good or in place of the good. The bad should not be taught before children have enough knowledge to understand some context.

Children should learn of the wisdom and heroism of our founders, of pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, the exceptionalism of America, and how our founding ideas were new ideas in the world and changed the world, and of "give me liberty or give me death." And they should learn of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Davy Crockett, and Paul Revere, and a whole host of American heroes.

If they are being taught of our blemishes instead of our glories, then that is wrong. The key to determining if the material is appropriate or not is, in my view, if it is taught in context and if it is age-appropriate.

Now, Moms for Liberty may go a little overboard at times and their rhetoric may be extreme. If it is true that "Moms for Liberty" group demands schools ban books with "sexy" pictures of seahorses, then that is just nuttiness. If they get unruly at school board meetings, then I do not approve. Despite their faults and excesses, however, I think they are right in advocating for context and age-appropriateness in what is taught in schools. 

Instead of a dodge on a time-frame technicality, I wish the charge would have been evaluated. I hope this charge is renewed this year, assuming the same situation exists. 

For more see link, link, link,

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