EXCLUSIVE: Williamson County Schools Indoctrinated Teachers on How to Teach Students About ‘White Privilege’ With In-Service Training Video

Williamson County School System officials recently made teachers watch a video that tried to instruct them not on ways to teach students reading, writing, and arithmetic — but it instead tried to indoctrinate teachers on how to teach students about “white privilege.”

The 26-minute in-service training video, the third in a series about cultural competency, profiles several people whom the video describes as “Williamson County Voices.”

The video does not identify anyone, nor does it make clear if these people are school system employees or county residents not formally affiliated with the school system. One man, though, identified himself as a school administrator.

In the video, they and the narrator discuss social justice causes, the perks white males supposedly have that others do not, America’s supposed dysfunctional history, and how unfair it all is.

At the beginning, an unidentified female narrator encourages teachers to “recognize the construct of privilege and its implications.” (emphasis added)

“Our second goal is for you to have built confidence in your ability to engage in courageous conversations about privilege,” the narrator said.

“If we as educators do not build our capacity to discuss challenging topics with our colleagues then how can we teach those skills to our students?”

You can listen to that introductory segment of the in-service instructional video here:

The Tennessee Star obtained the video on Tuesday through an open records request submitted to the Williamson County School System that was submitted on February 19.

“Pursuant to Tennessee’s Public Records Act, [we are] writing to request a video shown to teachers Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, during an In-Service Day at Thompson’s Station Elementary School,” The Star wrote in an email to the Williamson County School Systems.

The Williamson County School System complied with that request by providing The Star with a CD copy of the video on Tuesday. The Star is in the process of making the full video available for its readers in YouTube format, which we expect to accomplish before the end of this week.

Subsequent to The Star’s review of the video, we requested further comments from  Williamson County School System spokeswoman Carol Birdsong, but we did not immediately receive a response to our inquires.

Among the questions The Star would like answered are if Modules 1 and 2 of the WCS Cultural Competency Series are available for review, how many total modules in the series were produced, how much it cost to produce the series, which vendors were used to produce it, who authorized and approved of the curriculum in the series, and if the Williamson County School Board had approved of the budget expenditure to produce the series.

Late Tuesday afternoon, The Star sent this question to Amanda Armstrong, director of communications and operations in the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Education — Teachers, Leaders, and CCTE:

Has the Tennessee Dept of Education reviewed and approved the video created and produced by the Williamson County Public Schools titled Cultural Competency Series, Module 3 for use in in service training of Williamson County Schools teachers by the administration of Williamson County Public Schools?

Ms. Armstrong has not yet responded to that question.

All this, a week after The Star reported that two Sunset Middle School teachers in Brentwood asked their eighth-grade students to pretend their family owns slaves.

Students then had to create a list of expectations for those slaves, as The Star reported:

“We have been providing professional training to our staff members on cultural awareness this year, but I admit that we have more work to do in this area,” [Williamson County Schools director Mike] Looney said in an email sent out to school parents Thursday.

“Please know, we are absolutely committed to ensuring all of our students feel welcome, wanted and worthwhile.”

Looney also tweeted a copy of his letter.

School officials pulled the assignment, and they will not take grades on it, Looney went on to say.

In the same email, school Principal Tim Brown said he was “very remorseful that this situation occurred.”

“I recognize this assignment was inappropriate, and steps are being taken to rectify this situation,” Brown said.

‘Oppressive Institutions’

A Williamson County School System logo kicks off the video.

The Star confirmed teachers at at least one county school had to watch.

A few minutes in, a female appears and seems to go on a guilt trip about her supposed white privilege. She spoke of receiving things others have not and how she has a responsibility to share her privilege with other people.

“I’ve been ignoring how much privilege I do have. I’ve had a lot of privilege I didn’t have to ask for, or earn, or obtain,” the woman says.

“Things have been made easier for me than they have been for other people. It is my job to (a) notice that and (b) acknowledge that I was a beneficiary of that, and then (c) be a part of the solution,” she continued.

You can listen to that portion of the video here:

A man then opines on the flaws in the founding of the country, beginning at the 38 second mark of the audio clip below:

There are certain things that are like built in because, like, that’s how our country was founded in the sense, umm, you know it’s like this majority culture, like this, particularly white male culture has been in power for so long and it’s like, I mean, it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t be, some kind of structures in place to where, like, white men have, like, an advantage over women and over different minority groups because, you know, they’ve been in power so long, and so when I consider privilege it’s just, like I said, the fact that there’s no . . . your whiteness, for example, hasn’t been a structure that has held you back . (emphasis added)

You can listen to that portion of the video here:

“Being white like I am,” one woman said,” I was born into a family where I was given so many privileges, more than I ever knew,” one woman said.

Later, the narrator told viewers “that white individuals do enjoy unearned advantages that society does not necessarily offer to individuals of color.” (emphasis added)

“The concept of intersectionality recognizes that skin color privilege is one of the many different types of privilege that can impact the way people move through the world,” the narrator continued.”

“Oppressive institutions, such as racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia are often interconnected in the varying degrees with which people hold privilege and power,” the narrator said

You can listen to that portion of the video here:

The video was also interactive.

At one point, for instance, the narrator asked teachers to pause the video for 10 minutes so they could assemble in groups and share what, if any, privileges they have enjoyed in their lives.

The narrator also instructed them to ask “what actions can teachers take to work against systems and structures that promote the dominance of white cultural norms?”

‘Privilege Walk’

Other people representing a variety of genders, races, and even sexual orientations appeared on the video for what the narrator explained was a “privilege walk.”

They lined up single file facing the camera.

Someone off-camera told them, for instance, to take one step back if, while they grew up, their parents worked nights and weekends. The same person asked them to step forward, however, if they can show affection to their romantic partner in pubic without fear of ridicule or violence.

You can listen to that portion of the video here:

There were other similar questions:

• “If you were embarrassed about your clothes or house while growing up, take one step back.”

• “If you have ever been diagnosed as having a physical or mental illness or disability, take one step back.”

• “If you have ever been bullied or made fun of based on something you can’t change, take one step back.”

• “If you get time off for your religious holidays, take one step forward.”

At the end, an African-American man appeared on camera to speak about the “privilege walk.”

“It reminded me of when they talk about slavery in high school, and you feel angry for a few days, but then you realize this is how it is,” the unidentified man said.

Another man, this one white, said it was frustrating to see people behind him and that “no amount of hard work or even legislation can make up that gap.”

Toward the end of the video, another unnamed man said the supposed white privilege problem is a call to action.

“I think it is all of our jobs (to address),” the man said.

“It starts at the top in the county and us as administrators and teachers and educators and to really make that difference and be advocates for all of our kids.”

Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

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23 Thoughts to “EXCLUSIVE: Williamson County Schools Indoctrinated Teachers on How to Teach Students About ‘White Privilege’ With In-Service Training Video”

  1. […] Tennessee Star reported this month, as part of this In-Service teacher training, one 26-minute video, the third in the cultural […]

  2. […] As reported, the “white privilege” training is part of a “Cultural Competency series of videos that preach left-leaning social justice themes and America’s supposed dysfunctional history. […]

  3. […] incident” occurred at Sunset Middle School last Friday, just two days after The Star broke the story that Williamson County Schools this academic year has required all teachers to participate in an […]

  4. Sheryl Bryant

    So glad I pulled my kids out of Williamson Co.

  5. mia

    Are you sure the state that is beneath you on the graduation numbers scale didn’t create this video so it can derail your students and your graduation numbers would lower? think about that.

  6. Wolf Woman

    A wise man once told me if you want to know who’s a racist, listen for the person who always talks about race.

    To think that I put myself in harm’s way during the ’60’s civil rights movement for this load of crap outcome makes my blood boil.

    Meanwhile, the kids aren’t learning to read, write and do simple math problems. Looney needs to be replaced.

  7. Old Hickory

    The school system should be teaching the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic to students, not social justice and not the made up white privilege.

  8. Josh Read

    pbs.org/newshour/education/colleges-enroll-students-arent-prepared-higher-education …

    Tennessee has the highest at 59% the percentage of students who aren’t prepared for higher education and require remedial courses in college.
    That’s called paying twice for worse outcomes.

  9. Motsey

    Only way around rotting garbage is to stay out of landfills…. HOME SCHOOL!

  10. Carol Simpson

    From the TN History for Kids website:

  11. Jo

    No where in any of the audios, did I hear honest discussion. I only heard indoctrinated words. No one wanted to stand up against the PC Police, let alone loose their jobs.

  12. Steve Allen

    I’m racially offended by the term “white privilege”, oh, but I don’t think I can be racially offended because I am white.

  13. Joy Page Manuel

    I think it’s great that people are being educated on what ‘white privilege’ means. I don’t see where all the negative reaction is coming from and why this would be considered garbage by some. Race is a very important issue and in the past years, it has become even clearer how a lot of citizens are unaware of its implications on social justice, economic life, etc. What a lot of ppl refuse to see is that teaching ‘white privilege’ is NOT demonizing being white. It’s simply to teach that skin color–being white in this current cultural setting—affords you automatic advantages that you may take for granted because you are white. That is all. It’s to train you to be more sensitive to your taken-for-granted reality.

    1. CHH

      LOL, what a load of crap. stop trying to defend and/or rationalize this garbage and garbage like it. stop using skin color, sexual orientation, religion, etc for any basis of complaint. live & die on your merritts. stop trying to build in pre-manufactured excuses for failures and missed opportunities; its 2019 for God’s sake, grow up already.

    2. Lisa Polk

      It is reversed racism in a new world order package. The very Term “white male privilege” says it all! I was taught you can’t tear down other’s in order to build yourself up. Everyone will end up feeling like crap. How do you raise a “white male child” to be strong if you are telling him he is already wrong because he is white! It really comes down to personal accountability for yourself and being responsible for the little ones TWO PEOPLE bring into the world. Regardless of skin color and Not just the hard working single mom or dad but both. In this Age of Assisted Everything and Free This and Free That (esp., in TN where the First Two years of College are paid for and Most Teachers seem to really care about the Students). Is everything perfect…absolutely not! Is it better than it use to be as far as acceptance, opportunities and assistance to achieve them..absolutely yes! But you have to want it for yourself and the same little ones you birth! It is pure indoctrination but I am glad to know it! I will continue to be ALL OVER WCS system until my last child is out!

    3. Anna

      Then don’t call it “white privilege”! Call it race relations

    4. Robert

      You mean like all the dead white soldiers on Normandy beaches on Dec 6, 1944 to save our world …..PC will lead us to civil war eventually …..

  14. Kate

    There is no doubt that this phenomenon has arrived in Williamson County. Just check out the CEO of “UnboundEd,” Kate Gerson, address an audience of teachers. This is the new thing among the Education bureaucratic elites – to “transform” teachers into “equity change agents.” It is despicable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNzEaBXj2SM

    1. J

      Hm, I have listened to this whole video. Are you saying our WCS teachers listened to this speaker??? I never knew our school system was headed/aligned with this way of thinking.

  15. Habu

    Our tax money is being spent for this garbage….really?

  16. Rick

    Lets allow Looney and all of the directors in Williamson County Schools explain this away. Their marketing of their school system as being superior maybe running out of steam. The self promotion of their school system by Looney will reach its limit one day and it may have. Teach do not indoctrinate.