Hamilton County Teachers Told, Urban Students Disrupt Class Due to Bad Home Lives


Officials with the Hamilton County School System say, no, they did not force teachers to sit through a white privilege training session.

Instead, they had teachers take a curriculum explaining why, among other things, students from urban communities are prone to disrupt class and have other behavioral problems.

And these students make trouble in school because of trauma at home, said Hamilton County School Board member Tiffanie Robinson.

This lesson is one of many taught as part of an Adverse Childhood Experiences program — or ACES for short.

According to state records, this program is statewide and cost taxpayers nearly $3 million for Fiscal Year 2019.

“If you have a student constantly acting out, and you’re choosing to maybe send him or her to the principal’s office or to expel them then maybe you’re doing this without really understanding what their background is and where they are coming from. Frequently expelling these students that have had adverse experiences makes them disengaged,” Robinson told The Tennessee Star.

“But if a teacher can understand a student is acting this way because of the home life they are experiencing then they will hopefully come up with alternative ways to discipline the child because the child should understand the way they are acting.”

These students, Robinson went on say, routinely see gun violence, drug abuse, and other traumatic events that affect their ability to focus.

According to Tennessee Department of Children’s Services spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals, the program got $2.8 million of state money for Fiscal Year 2019 and will get $2.4 million in Fiscal Year 2020.

According to DCS’s website, officials in other counties use this money to teach parents how to mentor their children and have stable employment, among other things.

The money will also pay for what are known as sensory calming rooms for elementary school students.

Hamilton County Schools’ spokesman Tim Hensley told The Star in an emailed statement this week that school system officials regret people mistook the ACES training for a white privilege curriculum. Hensley, though, said event organizers did discuss white privilege with teachers that day.

“White privilege was one of several terms on slides during the short part of the presentation,” Hensley wrote.

As reported this week, school board member Rhonda Thurman said she plans to hold school system employees accountable for what she said is a white privilege curriculum regardless of what other people call it. She said she’ll do this even if she is the only board member to do so.

As The Star reported last week, the curriculum taught teachers that “people of color cannot be racist because they lack the institutional power to adversely affect white lives.”

The curriculum also taught that white privilege exists because of enduring racism and biases.

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







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2 Thoughts to “Hamilton County Teachers Told, Urban Students Disrupt Class Due to Bad Home Lives”

  1. Kevin

    Until someone unwraps the ties that bind our teachers to the Educational Industrial Complex, we are going to have these issues! Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) and Tennessee Organization School Superintendents need to be the first to go!

  2. Russ

    This is not news. It has always been that way. The key to education is home life and always has been. You take a student with below average effort and he will do well if supported and pushed at home. It job left to schools, he will not do well, and may well fail. The faster that the schools tell this message, quit trying to teach to the lowest standard so all will pass, the quicker the schools will improve.