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?

Read More

Metro Nashville Public Schools Will Continue Requiring Masks, After Nashville Officials Ended the Mask Mandate Last Week

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) announced last week that they will continue enforcing their mask mandate indefinitely. The announcement came out Friday – the same day that Metro Nashville health officials ended the mask mandate.

The Tennessee Star reported on a recent court ruling that schools lacked the legal authority to impose a mask mandate contrary to state and their local government policy decisions. The Star inquired with MNPS about the relationship between this ruling and their decision to continue the mask mandate. MNPS spokesperson Sean Braisted told The Star that the case referenced doesn’t prevent a school district from enacting or enforcing mask requirements. The Star asked if this ruling would jeopardize MNPS’s qualified immunity if parents challenged the mask mandate in court. Braisted responded that MNPS wouldn’t comment on hypothetical legal challenges.

Read More

Williamson County Schools Rescinds Mask Mandate After Saying Judge Didn’t Rule Against Their Authority to Impose It

Williamson County Schools (WCS) announced Friday they’re ending their mask mandate, several weeks after a judge opined they lacked legal authority to continue imposing it. After the spring semester lets out, WCS won’t require masks any longer. In a voicemail obtained by The Tennessee Star, WCS Communications Director Carol Birdsong announced to parents that WCS was ending their mask mandate.

“Hello Williamson County Schools families, this is Carol Birdsong calling. Superintendent Jason Golden announced at last night’s school board work session that the district’s indoor mask requirement will come to an end once school has been dismissed and campuses have been cleared on Friday, May 21. The district will continue to recommend and encourage masks this summer for those who are not fully vaccinated – but they will not be required. More information is included in the email that is accompanying this phone call.”

Read More

Williamson County Schools Ignores Judge Ruling Against Mask Mandates

Williamson County Schools (WCS) will continue their mask mandate, although a judge opined that they lacked authority to do so. Since Williamson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley dismissed the case for lack of standing, he didn’t order the Williamson County Board of Education (WCBOE) to stop enforcing their mask mandate. However, he did specify in an alternative ruling that WCBOE lacked the legal authority to continue enforcing their mask mandate.

The Court is not convinced, as a matter of law, that WCBOE acted within its statutory authority at the time it promulgated its face-covering requirements. Further, the policy decisions promulgated by Mayor [Rogers] Anderson and Governor [Bill] Lee in February 2021 and April 2021 are inconsistent with WCBOE’s continued enforcement of face-covering requirements. With respect to WCBOE’s authority to issue a face-covering requirement, [their] Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment is alternatively DENIED. The Court cannot find, as a matter of law, Defendants have acted within the authority given to them by the legislature when enacting face-covering requirements.

Read More

Williamson County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney Retains Attorney as Court Date is Delayed Until March 27

After a bizarre series of events that led to his arrest for assault on a student, Williamson County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney has retained attorney Mark Puryear of the Franklin, Tennessee law firm Puryear, Newman and Morton to defend him against the simple assault charge he faces for allegedly accosting a…

Read More