Knox County Schools (KCS) approved a dual enrollment course from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) that has historically taught critical race theory. The KCS board of education approved the course offering, “SOWK 1030: Cultural Diversity,” as part of a larger list of ETSU dual enrollment courses during their meeting last week.
The course is characterized as pre-professional social work curriculum focused on social justice topics such as “diversity within diversity,” referring to intersectionality – a concept coined by preeminent critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw.
A parent coalition is concerned that the Wit and Wisdom curriculum, approved for use in 33 counties, may violate Tennessee’s K-12 critical race theory ban. The coalition, Moms for Liberty of Williamson County, formed a parent-led deep dive team to examine the entire curriculum, including the accompanying teacher manuals. According to their findings, Moms for Liberty of Williamson County believes that one of the learning modules within the curriculum for second graders teaches content that was banned from K-12 education recently by the Tennessee legislature: that one race is inherently superior to another; that individuals should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress because of their race; that the U.S. is fundamentally or irredeemably racist; and the promotion of a division between or resentment of a race.
Wit and Wisdom incorporates a type of education called “social-emotional learning.” The curriculum tackles history and complex topics such as segregation, animal reproduction, and death through the English language arts.
Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) informed The Tennessee Star that it doesn’t plan to implement critical race theory.
MNPS spokesperson Sean Braisted responded to inquiries from The Star about remarks from the district’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion executive officer, Ashford Hughes. We asked whether Hughes would implement any of the banned tenets in MNPS’s forthcoming “Equity Roadmap,” and if MNPS planned to implement critical race theory. This was Braisted’s response.
Last weekend, around 50 Tennessee educators marched through Memphis to oppose the state’s new ban on critical race theory in the “Downtown Memphis Solidarity Walk.” The educators gathered at the site where a historical slave market run by Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest once stood, then walked by the Schools for Freedman historical marker and the Memphis Massacre marker before concluding at the National Civil Rights Museum.
The march was part of a national pledge called “Day of Action.” The effort was organized by Black Lives Matter (BLM) At School, a national coalition with loose ties to the original BLM, and the Zinn Education Project, which provides supplemental curriculum for “a more accurate, complex, and engaging” version of U.S. history. Some of their materials include information on the 1619 Project, reparations, environmental racism, and antiracism.