Conservative Activist and Retired Attorney Mark Pulliam Fights Woke Pedagogy in Maryville Tennessee Schools

Mark Pulliam
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Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed retired attorney and blog creator of Misrule of Law, Mark Pulliam, to the newsmaker line to discuss the one-sided propagandized reading material for principals and assistant principals in the Maryville area comprised of Critical Race Theory themes.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by our good friend, Mark Pulliam, a recovering retired attorney, a blogger at Misrule of Law. Mark, in Maryville, there’s trouble in paradise. They’re letting Critical Race Theory be taught, it looks like, in public schools. Tell us about what you’re trying to do to stop that.

Pulliam: To clarify, it isn’t being taught per se in the public schools. But what the Maryville City School Administration has announced is that in order to promote diversity and access and equity in the public schools, all principals and assistant principals in the school district will be required to study a book that contains many theories subsumed under the label Critical Race Theory.

And these are the theories of privilege and systemic racism and so forth that certain groups are marginalized and victimized and society oppresses them and anti-racism is needed. In effect, reverse discrimination to compensate for these institutional biases against certain marginalized groups. And the state law that prohibits Critical Race Theory in public education – Tennessee doesn’t use Critical Race Theory.

It breaks it down into these categories of theories. And it’s precisely these theories that are advanced in this book, called Beyond Conversations About Race, that the administration is requiring principals and assistant principals to read.

You only have to assume that if principals and assistant principals read this book, which is a one-sided propaganda track, that that is going to inevitably influence how they interact with teachers, how they set up the curriculum and the whole emphasis of the pedagogy in the schools.

And I have objected to it. And my objections so far have fallen on deaf ears to both the director, which is an effective superintendent of the school district, and the school board. And there’s a school board meeting tonight, and I intend to appear at the school board meeting and raise this issue.

Leahy: What exactly are you going to object to? What particular elements of this book are inappropriate propaganda?

Pulliam: The whole emphasis of the book. The book is written by educators and educators as a group is very Left-wing these days. But it’s a book written by educators for use by educators, in terms of how should you approach children with these topics.

And the topics are all of the litanies of Critical Race Theory topics, which assume that our society is racist. Assumes all white people have benefited from racism. Assumes that all blacks are marginalized and oppressed and so forth.

And the book criticizes Republicans and criticizes Conservatives. And so there’s really nothing in the book that is, I think, laudable. And if the goal is, in essence, what they say, it’s a professional development tool to help people address the issue of diversity.

If you are really interested in addressing the issue of diversity, you could read have them read Heather Mac Donald’s book about The Diversity Delusion. You could have them read a lot of things that were either neutral or which were critical of these identity politics concepts.

Instead, they’re reading one book, and it is a bias to one side book. So what I’m asking is that you either make this book so that is not required to be read by principles or assistant principals, or you give them a list of books that includes balance, that they can choose to read any of the books on the list.

But right now they are being, in effect, guided towards a particular outcome of a topic that is probably the most controversial topic today in public education. It has voters on fire throughout the country.

And this seems to me to be tone-deaf for this group of administrators and the school board to be so nonchalant about the fact that this is being spoon-fed to our principals and assistant principals.

Leahy: Do you think, in your view, that if these concepts are taught in the classroom, that it would violate the current law just passed prohibiting the teaching of the tenants of Critical Race Theory?

Pulliam: I don’t have any doubt. And in fact, the director of schools, when I raised this with him, that was one of his defenses. He said we are not teaching this directly to the children. We’re just requiring the principals and assistant principals to learn about it.

Conceiving, in effect, that if this were being taught, if this book were being used in the classroom, it would be contrary to SB623. And so that, to me, shows that it certainly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.

Leahy: Do you intend to file a complaint with the school board for this, which would be part of the process in that law that would end up going to the commissioner of education for determination?

Pulliam: I’ve tried to resolve this informally and have gotten no results. But what I intend to do tonight is to go to the school board meeting and ask that this be put on the agenda for the next meeting and to have the school board disavow this book.

And they may claim that, well, it’s an optional book that you’re not required to read it, and so on and so forth. But the fact is that this book has been designated, it’s been selected, and they’ve been quoted in the paper saying that it is a professional development tool that all principals and the assistant principals will be studying this year.

And so if I cannot get them to disavow this book and make it clear that it’s not mandatory reading for principals and assistant principals, then I will take it to the next level.

Leahy: But under the law, you will not be able to take it to the next level because you don’t have kids in the school system. Right? So, who will take it to the next level?

Pulliam: We have a network here. We have a Tennessee chapter of an organization called United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE). And that Tennessee chapter is based here in Maryville. And we have parents who are in all of the school districts here. Blount County, Alcoa, and Maryville.

And we will find somebody. These guidelines that the Department of Education put together are still in draft form. But once it’s clear what the mechanism is for complaining. And ultimately, three of the five members of the school board are up for election next year.

Leahy: Ah ha!

Pulliam: And that’s the ultimate recourse of how to influence your local schools is to elect school board members who do your will. And if they thumb their nose at you, vote them out.

Leahy: Mark Pulliam, Conservative activist, retired attorney blogger at Misrule of Law, and our good friend. Mark Pulliam, thanks so much for joining us.

Pulliam: Thank you!

Listen to the third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
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