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. – guest host Cunningham welcomed Robin Steenman of Moms for Liberty-Williamson County to the newsmaker line to update listeners on the status of her complaint to Tennessee’s Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn about the continuation of Wit and Wisdom racist curriculum for the 2022 school year.
Leahy: Good morning, Robin.
Steenman: Good morning.
Leahy: Okay. So tell us what the story is, what the latest developments are after your complaint about the teaching of critical race theory tenants in Williamson County schools that was rejected by Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn on technical grounds that it hasn’t happened yet this year.
Some character by the name of Judd Legum, who purports to be a journalist but is basically a left-wing propagandist. He worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and now kind of tries to misrepresent what your complaint was. Tell us about that.
Steenman: The bottom line is that even if Penny Schwinn honored our complaint, that yes, I agree with you, that this curriculum violates the law and we’re going to remove it.
Even if that was the outcome, they’d be calling us the exact same thing. It matters not what the facts are or what actually happens. It’s all about their narrative.
Leahy: Yes. And I think the question has to do with reading curriculum for seven-year-old kids.
Leahy: And it’s called the Wit and Wisdom curriculum. And it was included for seven-year-old second graders last year. It’s scheduled to be included in Williamson County this year. In January, Commissioner Schwinn said, well, hasn’t been taught yet this year. So, therefore, I’m not going to rule on this. Do I have that right?
Steenman: That’s correct. Yes. She wants a whole new round of second graders to be affected by this curriculum before she’ll even look into the matter and judge on the merits.
Leahy: So this guy, Judd Legum, just put out a tweet. He’s a self-appointed, critical race theory debunker out there. Worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He started this thing called Think Progress. He’s your typical lefty propagandist. He says his complaint about you and your complaint is you don’t want to teach kids about Martin Luther King.
And you want to say that Sheriff Bull Connor, the famous Alabama sheriff who basically used fire hoses to combat those in the 60s and 50s who were protesting segregation. He claims you say he’s a good guy. Does he have that right?
Steenman: No. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That lesson referencing the fire hoses, it’s a point-of-view lesson. Actually, it’s not even in the teacher’s manual. It’s separate because they really don’t want parents to see it.
And it’s from three points of view. One of them is from one of the children being blasted by the fire hoses. And it’s a first hand account of how it hurts them and bruises their body and rips their clothes.
And then the second point of view is about a truly racist police officer from 1960 who speaks of protecting white citizens and teaching these Black kids a lesson. And says that the firemen turned their hoses on the crowd and start to spray the water is strong enough to tear the bark off a tree.
I hope that will teach these people a lesson. And then the third point of view is the photographer who shot that picture says the firemen blasted kids with water. I can’t believe my eyes seeing such violence against children.
It looks like the water is really hurting them and it hits them in the back. Now, this is English Language Arts, and I only read to you a couple of snippets from this point of view exercise.
Well, the kids have to refer back to that exercise repeatedly day after day after day to answer questions about sentence structure and word choice. And it’s insane because you’re marinating them in actual accounts of racism in order to teach them to be right. Tell me there’s not an agenda there.
Leahy: This is very interesting because now the bureaucrats, the edu-crats in Williamson County will say, ‘Oh, no, we’re not teaching critical race theory.’ This is part of how they teach a reading lesson to seven-year-olds. How could they not be affected by this propaganda?
Steenman: Well, they can’t. And it’s not a book that’s titled Critical Race Theory. You can bleed out by cutting your arm off or you can die of 1,000 paper cuts. And that’s really what Wit and Wisdom is.
If you look at some of the examples of the ELA, the assessments that stem from the exercise, I just told you, it says to read the following sentence from the text. Suddenly water explodes from the nozzles.
How would the meaning of the sentence change if the word explodes was changed to poor? So what do children have to do to answer these questions? Will they refer back to accounts of racism?
And Wit and Wisdom goes on to highlight the skin colors of all the players in these stories again and again and again. And it drops that child off in the Jim Crow era in 1960, with Ruby Bridges feeling like that level of racism exists today.
Wit and Wisdom speaks absolutely zero about the progress that’s been made since then. And that’s how you end up with children.
The half-white, second-grade boy who’s traumatized about his half-white self and the black child who’s traumatized about now that he’s a victim, no matter what happens to him, it’s all because of his skin color. We put these children in two different boxes that they may never escape.
Leahy: Thank you for this. It looks like every left-winger thinks it’s still 1962 in Alabama, right? That’s what they want to do. 59 years ago when this happened.
Steenman: That’s true.
Leahy: Robin Steenman, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Keep us posted on how your complaint goes through the system.
Steenman: Of course. Thank you, Michael.
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