Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada said on Thursday he favors legislative oversight into how and why Williamson County Schools are conducting “white privilege” in-service training for teachers this academic year, in apparent violation of state law.
Appearing on The Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Casada did not mince words when asked by Gill his position on such legislative oversight.
Gill posed the question about legislative oversight to Casada about five minutes into the interview.
“To me, Glen, the fact that the legislature passes a law that says you have to submit a plan [for in-service training] , and then they [Williamson County Schools] just blatantly ignore it, it seems like the oversight that you guys have talked about doing more of in the past, I know you’re in the middle of a legislative session and it’s like drinking water from a fire hose, but as soon as the session is over, that might be the time to do some oversight of how come we’re not requiring the submission of an actual plan [for in-service training of ‘white privilege’ by Williamson County Schools],” Gill said. (emphasis added)
“And I agree. The state has a very definite role. We fund local government and we help them do well for the citizens of Tennessee. They in turn have an obligation to comply with state law. So I do think there will be some oversight and a push for further deep oversight on things like this,” Casada responded. (emphasis added)
Co-host Michael Patrick Leahy introduced the issue of the Williamson County Schools “white privilege” in-service training a few minutes earlier in the interview:
Leahy: Speaker Casada this is Michael Patrick Leahy. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to take a look at our lead story today. But our lead story is a smoking gun. The Tennessee Department of Education document that shows the Williamson County Schools is delivering its ‘white privilege’ in-service training in violation of state law. We asked the state to provide a copy of the plan, approved for in-service training in Williamson County. And they finally delivered something that Williamson County submitted. It’s not a plan, it’s a calendar which is very different.
Gill: The details of their in-service training is as much detail as when spring break occurs.
Leahy: Yeah. It’s not an in-service training plan (Casada chuckles) which would be detailed. And of course, ‘white privilege’ is very controversial and very divisive. That’s the reason that the Tennessee General Assembly, the governor, put this provision of law into effect. Now given that. Do you think it would make sense I think to have some sort of investigation into how this ‘white privilege’ training was introduced into Williamson County schools?
“As a citizen, and a resident of Williamson County, it disturbs me greatly that that would even be allowed in our schools,” Casada responded.
“We all pay attention to what Washington is doing, and what the president is doing, but the most important thing, and where our attention must be focused on is local government and your local school board. And if you are outraged, like I am, you need, and those of us in Williamson County, need to let our school board members know this is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable, and it needs to be addressed immediately,” Casada added.
Casada also touched upon his concern for the violence coming from the left and Justin Jones dismissal of charges by a Democratic judge but held firm in his belief that justice would prevail in these instances. In conclusion, the Tennessee Star Report touched on the recent David Byrd situation and that of the Heartbeat Bill’s possibility of passing in the Senate without issue.
Gill: This is the mad rush period in the legislature. The committees are finishing their work up. You know things are either going to get passed, denied, or moved to summer study. One of the key bills that got some attention yesterday is the governor’s charter school initiative. Came out of the House education committee. I know it’s something you’re supporting. I know the governor’s supporting it strongly. And it’s a little bit kind of a test vote on where legislators on the education committee may come down next week on the education savings account legislation. Do you see these two linked in that way or is it just two separate bills?
Casada responded by saying that legislators need to trust the governor and that there is indeed a linkage as the governor has a clear vision for education reform. He went on to quote Einstein reciting, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Casada expressed that he believes due to this mentality, we are losing children in Tennessee’s failing schools. Casada highlighted that he actively urging legislators to get kids out of failing schools and give parents the tools to get them out. Gill interjected that the charter schools, which are technically public schools can operate out of the box a little more freely but was concerned that the response to such by the opposition of unions due to the fear that things will work and that those changes may be imposed upon them.
He added that education savings accounts will free parents to choose and pursue other alternatives and pondered why Republicans are turned off by this. He begged the question, why with everyone’s support (Casada, Lee, and McNally) aren’t people getting on board with it.
Casada: You know I think change is the biggest enemy of progress. And I think it’s just human nature to be adverse to change. And so it’s the Governor’s job, my job, the citizens’ job, and the legislators. Let’s think outside the box. Let’s move ahead. And so we will be sitting down one on one with members of the state. Let’s put the focus on children. Let’s get those children out of failing schools. The message will sell Steve, and I think we’ll pass it.
Gill: Yeah I know you don’t want to be a hardball, Jimmy Naifeh type Speaker, but at some point when you’ve got committee chairmen who are not moving the governor’s top priority and your top priority forward, at some point does it become appropriate to remove somebody as a committee chairman? Not only to remove them from blocking good policies but also to send a message to the rest? When somethings really important to you and the governor, it better be really important to them.
Casada: Well the biggest thing is the conservative vision. And I’ve got it. I’ve got a team of conservative leadership. And so, sometimes you need to sit down with individuals one on one and catch their attention on the big picture. And that’s what we’ll be doing next week. And I know everyone will jump on board and I’m not worried about it.
. . .
Gill: The other issue that we saw earlier this week. The Justin Jones character who assaulted you with a cup of Frothy Monkey hot coffee splashed (Leahy laughs) on Deborah Moody. I haven’t determined yet whether there were sugar packets attached to that cup which would make it an assault cup rather than just a standard attack cup. He got dismissed from his earlier criminal charges, disrupting Marsha Blackburn’s campaign rally. He’s apparently going to be back in court later this week. Are you concerned that the same judge that found a technicality to give him a pass may do the same thing in your case?
Casada: It would not surprise me. And the troubling thing about the left, their idea of free speech is shutting down anyone that disagrees with them. It’s a kind a scary tactic that they take. And we’ve got judges and elected people who not only condone it but also support it and this judge is an example of that.
Gill: Well and you’ve got the case where this particular individual has been ratcheting up his level of violence. You know he was disruptive and fought with cops at Marshal Blackburn’s event. He came up and tried to literally bull rush you in the capital and avoided it. Then he goes the next step and actually throws a cup of hot coffee at you and representative Moody. Are you concerned, that again when you see these people ratcheting up their level of violence that at some point somebody’s going to get seriously hurt?
Casada: Well it happened already. You know the left made a gun assault on a US Congressman when they were playing softball. So take after take they are physically violent. And so but those of us that are conservative and belief in the democratic republic process we’ve just got to stand firm. We just have to stand.
Gill: One of the other bills that is going to come up for hearing next week in the Senate, the House has already passed the Heartbeat Bill it’s now moving ahead in the Senate. Mark Pody and his Heartbeat Bill and Dolores Grechens softer, watered-down version are going to be in the Senate judiciary committee. I know it’s not in your alls handsanymore, it’s already passed in the House. Do you see the Heartbeat Bill moving forward?
Casada: You know what, I hope so. The Senate is a different body. I stay out of their business they stay out of ours. But I think the Heartbeat Bill is a statement. Especially in light of what New York and Virginia have done about taking the life of babies as they’re born, you can take their life. And it’s time for the rest of the nation to stand up and say that’s lunacy, life begins at a heartbeat. And I would encourage the senators to support it and we’ll see what happens.
As the discussion wrapped up, Gill touched upon yesterdays reporters that were trying to force David Byrd out of his subcommittee chairmanship on education, and therefore force him out of the legislature. He added that Byrd was re-elected with eighty-two percent of the vote after the allegations. Casada agreed and encouraged that he would be supportive of the election process because Byrd had won it overwhelmingly. He noted that the people of Byrd’s district trust him and voted for him in a four to one ratio. “The election will not be overturned because the people have spoken. The left wants to void the voice of the people with thirty-five-year-old allegations, stated Casada.
Gill commented upon the daily hit pieces that are plaguing Casada about pay rates and asked, “Are they journalists or part of the Democratic Party?”
“Republicans that stand up and are strong and articulate on the conservative message, the left hates and will do all they can to shut them down. And that’s what’s happening here. Myself and my House colleagues of conservatives are fighting the good fight and the left can’t stand it. They do not want an honest debate, they’ll try to shut down and smear where they can. And that’s what’s happening,” concluded Casada.
Listen to the full segment here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Glen Casada” by Glen Casada.