Commentary: Concerns Grow About Critical Race Theory and Fostering Healthy Solutions in Williamson County Schools

Protestor with megaphone, talking

Critical Race Theory and its potential impact on students, and the broader community, has many parents worried in Williamson County. These worries have grown ever since Fostering Healthy Solutions (FHS) was hired – by unanimous vote by the WCS school board – to do an audit of the WCS system. FHS is Shan Foster’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultancy, which he co-founded with his mother, Anita Foster, in 2017. FHS was brought in to address charges of bullying and claims of incidents of racism in the WCS. The WCS School Board has paid FHS $55,000 over 4 months to help the district “provide a safe learning environment for all students by creating a cultural strategy plan”, according to an April 28 article in the Brentwood HomePage.

Fueling WCS parents’ concerns about FHS, are controversies regarding Critical Race Theory that are erupting in other school districts nationwide. The concern being, that firms like FHS are enacting programs in the name of “Diversity”, “Equity” and “Inclusion”, but hiding behind those nice-sounding terms is a bevy of lesser known CRT-based ideas. For example, concepts such as “white privilege”, “anti-racism” and “systemic racism”, as well as a “oppressor/oppressed” framework for understanding America. Oppressor/Oppressed narratives are rooted in Neo-Marxist philosophies and are usually presented as fact to faculty and students via DEI programs, rather than academic theory.

The Tennessee Legislature just banned the teaching of CRT in schools – with Governor Bill Lee signing HB 0580/SB 0623 – which penalizes funding to any school system that teaches CRT concepts. Still, the question many Williamson County parents have is, does CRT inform the worldview of the FHS’s founders?  And does FHS intend to use CRT concepts and ideas to guide discussions about DEI should their contract be renewed in July?

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