Attorneys in Tennessee’s child welfare system chose to attend a series of politically-oriented trainings earlier this year that discussed, among other things, implicit bias, structural racism, and microaggressions.
The training series asked these attorneys a series of multiple choice sessions.
One session, available for members of the public to view on TNCourts.gov, asked “Why is it problematic to be colorblind?” Possible answers included (A) It denies the lived experience of a person of color. (B) It helps people of color have better job opportunities (C) It doesn’t support anti-racism or (D) Both A& C.
Another question asked whether it was true or false that “systemic racism speaks to the racial inequities in housing, employment, education, criminal justice, healthcare, leisure activities and other institutions.”
The Tennessee Star asked the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) staff whether this training series is politically-driven or constitutes leftist indoctrination.
AOC spokeswoman Barbara Peck said in an email that the training took place this past summer.
“It was optional; it was intended as an option for attorneys in the child welfare arena seeking Continuing Legal Education credits,” Peck said.
Peck said no other sessions on that topic are planned.
Another session asked whether “dog whistle politics” involves people using a dog whistle “to get others to hear their point of view” or if it involves racially-coded language that politicians use to evoke an emotional response.
Vanderbilt clinical psychologist Jon Ebert and Belmont University associate education professor Mona Ivey-Soto presented the trainings, according to TNCourts.gov
As The Star reported in September, Soto spoke to students at Brentwood High School that month after Principal Kevin Keidel invited her.
A Brentwood High parent who said he disapproved of Soto’s lecture provided The Star with an audio recording.
Before Soto spoke, Keidel delivered a lecture of his own. According to the audio, he said Brentwood High alumni, who now attend Harvard and Princeton universities, complained to him that school administrators didn’t do enough to make them better people.
“We took that to heart this summer. It doesn’t do us any good if you’re smart but you’re a bad person,” Keidel said in the recording.
“That is not what we want from you. We want you to be better people. We want you to be able to treat your classmates well. We want you to be able to treat your friends well.”
Keidel provided no specific examples of how past and present Brentwood High students were bad people.
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