News reports that Williamson County subjected teachers to a series of in-service instructional videos focused on “Cultural Competency,” which included at least one video denouncing so-called “White Privilege” as a major problem in the county’s schools have created a lot of controversy in the past two weeks.
The Williamson County Republican Party has responded with a call to action for conservative leaders across the state and circulated an online petition directed at state leaders. The petition urges state leaders to “Stop the Divisive Cultural Competency” Programs in TN School Systems.” Over 533 people have already signed the petition.
Williamson County Republican Party Chair Debbie Deaver encourages leaders across the state to sign the petition, since “it is clear that this is not just a Williamson County problem.”
“In fact, we know that national teachers’ union is actively promoting this divisive ‘white privilege’ lesson plan that does nothing to improve the quality of education in our classrooms,” Deaver noted. “It is our hope that this petition will spur action by the leaders in our state to reject this extremist agenda being forced down the throats of our teachers and students.”
The full text of the Petition is as follows:
Governor, Bill Lee
Senate Leader, Jack Johnson
Speaker of the House, Glen Casada
Dear Tennessee General Assembly Leaders:
The undersigned are extremely concerned about reports that school systems in Tennessee, including Williamson County, Knox County, and possibly others are engaged in teacher in-service programs under the heading of “Cultural Competency” that appear to be promoting a divisive agenda without following the required state and local approval process. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds are being used for these programs.
TCA 49-6-3004 (3)(1) specifically requires that both the local school board and the Tennessee Commissioner of Education approve a “plan” for in-service instruction of teachers on or before June 1 of the preceding school year.
The videos that have been used as part of the in-service instruction in Williamson County appear to have not received prior approval by the State Department of Education or the local school board.
Additionally, Knox County Schools may be pursuing a similar course of “cultural competency” instruction for teachers with their in-service programs at a cost of $170,000 in taxpayer funds as reported in The Tennessee Star.
We would like to suggest that you consider the following or similar actions:
1. Commissioner Schwinn should immediately review the in-service approval submissions to her department last year and provide them, if any, to the Governor and Legislative leaders. She should further instruct all school superintendents that no in-service training should be conducted without full and complete compliance with Tennessee laws and regulations.
2. Comptroller Justin Wilson should initiate an audit of the in-service programs for each school district in the state to determine if taxpayer funds have been spent in accordance with Tennessee laws and regulations with respect to teacher in-service training and proper accounting for expenditures.
3. Legislative Leadership should exercise oversight authority to determine whether or not the Department of Education (DOE) has complied with and enforced the provisions of TCA 49-6-3004 (3) (1) with respect to teacher in-service training. If the DOE has not complied with Tennessee law the Department should provide a detailed plan for compliance in the future and reveal the corrective actions that have been taken with personnel who failed to comply with Tennessee law.
4. The Attorney General should determine what actions may be taken against Superintendents and School Board Members who willfully and intentionally violated state law with respect to teacher in-service training.
We look forward to your immediate attention to these very serious issues that impact our teachers, our school children, and our communities.
Thank you for your service to the great State of Tennessee and the work you do each day on our behalf.
Tennessee Conservative Leadership and Voters
– – –
Background Photo “Williamson County GOP Petition” by Williamson County GOP.