Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson on Age-Inappropriate Wit and Wisdom Curriculum and Parental Engagement at the Local School Board Level

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson on Age-Inappropriate Wit and Wisdom Curriculum and Parental Engagement at the Local School Board Level

 

Live from Music Row Wednesday 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 Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to discuss the age-inappropriate wit and wisdom curriculum that has many people in the community angered. He also urged parents to get involved in local school board elections and oversight.

Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line, our very good friend, Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Jack, good morning.

Johnson: Good morning Michael. Good to be back with you.

Leahy: Well, it’s great to have you on. Now we’ve got to tell all our listeners is in full disclosure. You and I are pretty good friends.

Johnson: We are! We are! For many years.

Leahy: For many years. So this is just a couple of friends talking about a public issue. But it’s interesting how this one came about. Yesterday, as you know, in addition to hosting The Tennessee Star Report radio program here on Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLC, and owning and operating eight state-based news sites, including The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network, I write for Breitbart.

And I was very surprised yesterday when I saw a featured story at Breitbart News (Johnson chuckles) by my colleague Kyle Olson. And there was Jack Johnson. (Chuckles) It was a story about you, Jack.

And I sent this story to you right away. I said Jack, I didn’t know it was in the story. I said, Jack, I didn’t write this story or push it to anybody. And here it is. The headline. Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Fights Critical Race Theory in Own School District. So I sent you the text with that story, and I guess you’ve just seen it just a few minutes before.

Johnson: Yeah. Someone had sent it to me literally moments before you had as well. I wasn’t aware that it was going to be a national story in Breitbart. It was based off of an interview I had done with another news outlet here in Tennessee on the subject.

And I guess Breitbart picked it up. And by the way, I want to point out you’re a busy guy, you know that? You kind of rattled off all the things you’re involved with. You’re a busy guy. I can certainly relate to that.

Johnson: As are you. (Laughter)

Leahy: But of course, the other thing that’s great about you, Jack, is that you are a mean bass guitarist, right? You play with the Austin Brothers, and it’s always fun to go to a GOP event where you and your team are playing. It’s good music.

Johnson: We have a lot of fun with it. There was a time long ago when I tried to make money doing that. Luckily, that’s not an issue anymore. I just do it for fun.

Leahy: What’s interesting about this story, and I thought, Kyle, although he did not interview you, apparently for this story…

Johnson: Right.

Leahy: It’s very interesting how he put the story together. He started off. He saw a piece in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, where you were talking about the wit and wisdom reading program.

But he added to that three other sources, the Williamson Herald, the Tennessee Lookout, which is kind of the far left, funded by the usual left-wing billionaire types. Our friend Holly McCall, who we are friendly with, although she’s ideologically on the far left is running that operation.

And then, of course, also The Tennessee Star. Let’s go to this wit and wisdom curriculum. What’s going on with that?

Johnson: This is a curriculum that was adopted by the Williamson County School Board recently within the last year or two. And as you know, Michael, with this national debate that’s taking place relative to Critical Race Theory, there is an extremely heightened awareness, I think, on the parts of parents and communities across the nation and certainly here in Williamson County, where I represent.

That is the case. And so I have seen a level of parental engagement and involvement with the school board on a myriad of things. But certainly, I think Critical Race Theory and the debate over that has driven this. And so this curriculum was discovered that is being used in Williamson County.

It’s been used in Davidson County as well. I’m not sure how broadly it’s being used across the state. And it’s problematic in that some would argue that it is an entree if you will. It has elements of Critical Race Theory in it.

Others would say it does not. I care about that. But I’m not going to go into that argument. I have reviewed the curriculum and it’s problematic just from an age appropriateness. This is a curriculum that is used for young kids at school as young as, say, second grade.

And it has some dark themes about some historical events that may be have taken place that might be fine for a junior or a senior in high school, but not for elementary age kids. That’s one aspect of it.

And there are others that I could get into that make it problematic. And so that’s what the interview is about. And that’s what I spoke about. And in one of the interviews I did, I was very clear that I’m not making a case that this is or is not Critical Race Theory. It is problematic. And I don’t believe it’s age-appropriate for small kids.

Leahy: We looked at that. We did a bunch of stories on this. Our ace reporter, Corinne Murdock, showed examples of the curriculum. And you’re absolutely right about not being age-appropriate.

They’re really painting a very, very negative picture of America’s history to second graders, second graders. That’s undeniable. It seems to me to be a judgment problem to include that in the curriculum for second graders.

Johnson: Agreed. And this is why it is so important. And I’m grateful, Michael. This is very reminiscent to me of the whole Common Core debate when Common Core was introduced and it was being pushed in schools in Tennessee and across the nation.

And parents got involved. They learned about Common Core and what it was. They got involved and it led to it being removed. And now we don’t use Common Core in Tennessee. And we passed legislation to guarantee that.

So it’s very similar to the debate and discussion we’ve had about Critical Race Theory. And now it’s transcending into this wit and wisdom curriculum, which is being used in some areas.

And I think that’s healthy. I think it is good the more people involved and the more parents are involved. And I’ve had so many people, Michael, that have come up to me and say, Jack, you know what?

I’m not even sure if I voted in every school board election but you can bet I’m going to now, and I’m going to be involved. And I’ve gotten to know my school board member, and that’s what makes the system better.

Leahy: What’s interesting about this is we watch this and there’s a group of Williamson County parents called Moms for Liberty. I think it’s a national group, but there’s a very active Williamson County group and a friend of ours a man named Robin Steenman.

Steenman is one of the heads of that group. They’ve been very active in talking about the curriculum. Of course, I live in Williamson County, you represent me in the state Senate. And, of course, my children went to Williamson County schools.

But it seems to me that part of the problem is, and maybe you can talk about this in general, perhaps not specifically. Parents have concerns, and they go to the school board and the school board kind of responds to them like they are their children. Get it out of your system but we’re going to keep doing this. That’s what it seems like to me.

Johnson: Well, and that’s not an acceptable answer at any level of government. It’s certainly not acceptable. If a constituent or constituent group comes to talk to me about an issue at the state level, if it’s a city or a county issue, and certainly whenever it comes to our kids.

And I’ll preface this or digress for a moment here Michael. I’ve often said that I think one of the hardest elected positions in the world is to be on the school board. It is a very challenging job, and it’s one of the most important.

And it saddens me and I think you and I talked about voter engagement before. It saddens me. I’m very happy that there was a 70 to 75 percent voter turnout last November for the presidential election in Williamson County and a huge turnout across the state.

But when we have school board elections, typically the turnout is maybe around 15 or 16 percent. And it should be 100 percent across the board. But more people should be engaged with their school board and whether that’s in terms of working with them and lobbying with them and voting for the school board because the children in our Williamson County schools do not belong to the school board, they belong to their parents.

And the parents should make those decisions. We have an elected school board for a reason and that is so they can make appropriate decisions regarding public education that are right for our community.

The state created school boards. We could just have one statewide, and we do have a state-wide school board, but we could have one state-wide school board and do away with all the local school boards and just have one policy across the state.

I don’t think that’s appropriate. Educating a child in Memphis, Tennessee is going to be different than it is in Hancock County or Perry County. And so I believe in the local school board system. But that level of parental engagement as we’re seeing now is so critically important.

Listen to the first 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Director of Seeking Educational Excellence Charles Love Recounts His Experience of Growing Up Black in America

Executive Director of Seeking Educational Excellence Charles Love Recounts His Experience of Growing Up Black in America

 

Live from Music Row Thursday 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 Charles Love Executive Director of Seeking Educational Excellence reflects upon growing up in America in his Black community of Gary, Indiana.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by Charles Love a scholar with 1776 Unites. He’s the assistant executive director of Seeking Educational Excellence. He’s a talk show host at AM 560 in Chicago.

And also a great essay written by Charles that we want to talk about. We must scrap the 1619 Project for an accurate account of American history. Welcome to The Tennessee Star Report Charles.

Love: Michael, it’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Leahy: So tell us about your essay. Why must we scrap the 1619 Project?

Love: Well, I wrote my essay because I was hearing all the noise at the time, which obviously has shifted since then. It’s gotten louder. But what I saw was missing in a lot of these arguments is logic and context.

Everything that people argue has a sprinkle of truth in it, just enough to get you again so you can’t just say everything in it is not true. But the problem with the project is even some historians, as you know, took it to task.

But it’s beyond that. There were factual errors. But where there weren’t factual errors, there were lies of omission and they just took facts and took conclusions that made no sense. So I wanted to highlight that in my essay, but also use it as an example.

People understand things better when you tell stories. So I was telling a basic, simple story. I was telling my story about my upbringing and the people around me in my community in a majority Black town. I grew up in Gary, Indiana.

Leahy: Gary, Indiana. Not Louisiana, Paris, France, or Spain. From the music man.

Love: Yes. So the music man. So knowing that I felt that I had a pretty unique and interesting way to describe the way they should present the information if they wanted to present it, as opposed to the way they were doing it.

Leahy: Did you grow up there in Gary, Indiana, about the same time the Jackson family, the Jackson Five, was growing up there or were they a little bit before you?

Love: They were a little bit before my time. Especially since they left so young. They were gone by the time I was born. But I was born right when the city was breaking from being segregated.

As I say in the essay, they had elected the first Black Mayor at the same time as Cleveland and LA did. And they had what we all later called the White flight. So it was segregated at the time I was born.

And when I was really little, people were slowly starting to move into other neighborhoods. I was growing up right through that transition and seeing the change in the shift living in America, my childhood and my day-to-day life was not what we hear on the radio and see on the news. And that’s what bothers me.

Leahy: What did your folks do in Gary, Indiana, when you were growing up?

Love: My parents?

Leahy: Yes. What did they do?

Love: My mom was a housewife and my dad worked at the mill. We were kind of a steel town.

Leahy: A steel town. That’s a job working in a steel mill, isn’t it?

Love: That’s what he did until he retired. And so that’s what we did. And my family did.

Leahy: I’m guessing, Charles, you never mess with your dad, because if you work in a steel mill, you’re strong and you don’t put up with anything.

Love: Well, as I said, my mom was a housewife. So there were those classic parents, mother-father roles that you can’t speak of today. You know the P-word. (Leahy chuckles) But that’s what my household was like and many in my neighborhood at the time.

And I got to see the shift because I was old enough to not notice the difference, but see the difference because I was like 8, 9, and 10 and 12. Here’s one interesting thing. We often hear about the out-of-wedlock birth rate in the Black community.

But I’m old enough that things were different. I was coming up during the shift. One thing I didn’t notice and write about until I was an adult, but I started to notice it. All of my friends, I grew up in a community with a lot of people my age.

We all played, ran around, and all of them either had their father at home or knew their father really well. They were active. By the time I hit high school, they were all living in single-family homes.

So it’s not that they were born out of wedlock, but the family dynamic shifted over the course of their childhood.

Leahy: Why did that happen so quickly?

Love: I don’t know. I think that for them it was just more circumstances. It wasn’t the same thing as it is now. I don’t think it was the cultural shift as it is now. I don’t think it was media and all that kind of stuff.

But I got to see how it affects kids, though, because I noticed how my friends were different when we were 8, 9, 10, and 11. Same kids, same neighborhood. I walked into high school, and they were just different because that loss of a father makes a difference.

And so now when I hear people talk about it now, I’m like, I know for sure it’s different because you’re talking about going your whole life and your childhood, without knowing your father.

I can tell you about people who grew up with their father in the house until they were nine to 11. And by the time they were 16, they were defiant and they were getting into trouble. Not that no one else gets into trouble but there was not that stern figure to put them back on track.

Leahy: Did you go to a public high school in Gary, Indiana?

Love: Yes, I did.

Leahy: What was that like?

Love: All the way through. It was actually, as I write an essay, tremendously wonderful. I think my essay spins the narrative that you hear about the Black people. So my concern is that there are problems for sure that need to be fixed.

But too many people both Black people because they’re trying to prove a point, and White people because they don’t know any better, keep telling a tale of Blacks being underclass across the board. they’re all poor, they’re all uneducated and they’re all criminals.

So do we have problems in each of those lanes that need to be addressed? Of course. Is the percentage higher than Whites? Yes. But they act like it’s all violent crime in the Black community.

Everybody talked about how it’s higher than Whites, but the percentage of violent criminals is like two and a half percent. So most of us aren’t committing violent crimes. Yes, we have a poverty rate that’s higher than Whites, but it’s like 18 percent.

Too high? Yes. But that still means 80 percent of us aren’t in poverty. So my childhood was great. I went to an elementary school at the time. The city is smaller now, but at the time we had six high schools and lots of elementary schools.

I don’t know 50 or so. When I graduated high school, every valedictorian went to my elementary school.

Leahy: No kidding?

Love: From the public school down the street. I tell this often. I went through K through 12 and never had a White kid in my class, my same year. I only remember two in the school the whole time, and neither was in my year and both left before they graduated.

So you can’t call it a race thing. The city was not that socioeconomically diverse. There were really poor, poor working class and a few middle-class people. So you can’t really call it that either. But they focused on excellence.

What I try to focus on what we talk about at Seeking Educational Excellence, we focus on STEM and you focus on what you can change and don’t worry about the others. And so my experience was great.

I often say that I don’t think a middle-class White person, White picket fence in the suburbs had a different life, at least when I was growing up, as I did. So maybe their vacations were a little nicer. (Chuckles)

Maybe they had some nicer toys, but I didn’t want for anything. And I think I have the traditional American experience, as anyone else would.

Leahy: Grant Henry is in studio with us. He has a question for you. Go ahead, Grant.

Henry: Charles, the last paragraph of your article says, I suggest we take a different approach than the critical race theory approach of the 1619 Project. Instead, let’s take one that my teachers took when I was a child.

We learned an accurate account of American history. Charles, what do you say to someone and help us understand how to respond to this point when someone says, well, that’s what critical race theory does. It presents an accurate account of American history. What’s the response there?

Love: Wow. You’re going to make me do that in under a minute?

Henry: I’m sorry.

Love: The answer is twofold. The answer is, this not what it does, because what they do is they shift. If we want to say that history is not being too barely, and it’s making Whites with the savior, what they’re doing is only pointing out the Black.

I mean, the negatives of Blacks, which is not true. So they’re still leaving stuff out if that’s the case. But the real argument is all this talk about CRT is a waste because what’s being pushed in the schools that are upsetting students and parents, it’s not CRT.

Call it what you want. When you teach two boys kissing and you make that mandatory reading. When you say transgenderism is going to be taught in junior high school. When you’re saying that White privilege is going to be telling things of that nature, you’re not teaching accurate history.

You’re giving your opinion, whether it’s right or wrong, and you’re forcing it down parents’ and students’ throats without any say.

Listen to the full 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.
Photo “Charles Love” by Seeking Educational Excellence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Director Matthew Spalding of the 1776 Commission Urges Parents to Run for Local School Boards and Stop CRT

Executive Director Matthew Spalding of the 1776 Commission Urges Parents to Run for Local School Boards and Stop CRT

 

Live from Music Row Thursday 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 Dr. Matthew Spalding, vice president of Hillsdale College and the executive director of the 1776 commission to the newsmakers line.

During the second hour, Spalding informed listeners that the commission was still meeting to combat the racist curriculum being peddled by the federal government at the state level. Later in the segment, he urged parents to run for their local school boards and for communities to start their own local 1776 commissions.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by Matthew Spalding, executive director of the 1776 Commission and vice president of Hillsdale College. Heading up their graduate school of government at the  Washington, D.C. campus. Welcome, Matthew.

Spalding: Good to be with you. Thanks for having me.

Leahy: You were just in D.C. with our good friend, vice chairman of the 1776 Commission, Nashville’s own Carol Swain who is a frequent guest on this program.

Spalding: Yes. The commission, which had made its report on January 18, 2021, and abolished two days later decided to continue meeting. And so we met at our Washington, DC, campus on Monday to talk about what’s going on in the country and continue to think about how we can try to influence that debate.

We issued a statement and plan to continue meeting and participating in what we think is probably one of the most important debates going on in our country right now about education, especially as it relates to how we understand our country.

Leahy: I saw three key action steps coming out of your statement. Number one, you encourage parents to run for local school boards. Number two, you oppose this new Department of Education.

A proposed rule that’s basically going to codify Critical Race Theory across the United States in public schools. And number three, you encourage people locally to form their own 1776 commissions. Tell us about that.

Spalding: Well, let’s start with the race theory question first. The essence of the 1776 report and if you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to read it, mainly because what the media reports and the critics turn out they really just hadn’t read it.

It’s a report about the importance of teaching straight, accurate and honest history, including all the things about our past, like slavery and those horrendous institutions that were eventually abolished.

But through that, history warts and all, we can still see the principles, the founding and why this country is worth preserving. We study it and teach its principles to our students.

The report also talks about how there’s been the rise over just in the last decade or so, a number of radical arguments which instead of emphasizing that all men are created equal, with regard with Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln and many, if not most, of the American founders.

The argument is that we should look at it through the eyes of race. We should teach students to consider the race of their fellow students and of history and everything they look at. We think that is itself a form of racism because you’re teaching racism and unjust.

And that’s what a lot of the practical debate is. The federal level in many states trying to impose Critical Race Theory, set aside from what we call, equity out of history, is about teaching race as the essence of our educational system.

That at the federal level in the form of Department of Education regulations and states, it’s got to be stopped. We strongly mind everyone but the states, state government, state legislatures and localities, local school boards are the most important thing for controlling curriculum.

So we strongly encourage Americans, especially parents with children in schools run for the school board. Get control of those school boards. Prevent this from happening. Institute good curriculum. And in order to do this broadly, this is a public debate now, we encourage states and localities to create their own 1776 commissions.

Just because we were abolished, we’re going to continue meeting. This is an important question. We are citizens. We encourage others to do the same. So we’ve got to engage in the national conversation.

Leahy: If people here in Nashville want to form their own 1776 Commission, what should be the first step they should take?

Spalding: I think the first thing you might want to do is contact their governor or someone in the state. If you’ve got a good governor, it’s always good to have the legitimacy of that, because then you can work with your Department of Education and get good appointments.

But having said that, you could have a city create a 1776 Commission. A group of private citizens could. But I think it’s important to have a very clear concept of what’s pulling you together.

Perhaps you want to center around which we would encourage the principles of the 1776 report. There’s a pledge being pushed out there called 1776 Action that citizens can sign up to pledge to uphold these principles and stop Critical Race Theory.

It’s really got to be pulled together around those things. What is it you want to prevent, which is important to prevent, but also what is the alternative? And the alternative I think we all think and this is true forever on the left and the right, conservative, liberal is 1776.

The principles of the Declaration of Independence played out in our history through our constitutional system. And that’s got to be what holds together. Find your fellow citizens who are concerned about that.

Figure out how you can come together. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to focus on? Is it a local school board? Are you’re working with a local school or university? Working with a legislature or someone who has the authority to pass and create curriculum?

Leahy: We’ve been doing a little bit like that here at The Tennessee Star. We set up our own little educational foundation, the Star News Education Foundation. We have for five years now been doing a National Constitution Bee based upon the book that we wrote called the Guide to the Constitution and Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students.

And we give away the winners, actually get educational scholarships. We do it every October. In fact, Carol Swain was present at our last National Constitution Bee. And I would like to invite you to come down and take a look at it.

Spalding: I think you find it very interesting that’s a wonderful example of what folks should be doing. For the longest time, there are lots of people who are concerned about these questions.

This is not something new that we’ve invented at the 1776 Commission. But I think now that all of that work takes on a new meaning and new importance and a new intensity and we need more of it.

And we need to understand that this has implications for our politics because the education of our students now forms the citizens of tomorrow. And we’ve got to focus on these questions.

Leahy: Tell us a little bit about this U.S. Department of Education proposed rule. I think it’s in the final stages. What is it? Where is it going and will it be implemented?

Spalding: Well, here are the two big things to keep in mind. There’s a massive piece of legislation in the United States Congress that plans to spend about a billion dollars a year for five years. $5 billion on civics education.

That’s a massive amount of money. What the regulators at the Department of Education have signaled to us very clearly is that the administration, through a regulatory process, wants to direct that money to things like Critical Race Theory that has passed the comment stage and the regulation will now go forward.

If that legislation passes Congress, you’ve now got the Biden administration pointing as much of that billion dollars a year towards these forms of education which actually are teaching our students racism.

Leahy: That proposed rule has gone through the next step and it’s been approved?

Spalding: It’s gone through what is called the comment period that is now closed. We issued our comment last week. That means that they can now implement that regulation if they choose to proceed.

Leahy: Well, of course, they’re going to choose to proceed because that’s their view.

Spalding: We presumed they would proceed. Exactly.

Leahy: Why have a comment period if you’re going to just do it?

Spalding: In theory, you’re required by law of a comment period in case you want to adjust it. But I assume they are going to make no adjustments. This is going to go forward. If they then have that money which Congress is on the verge of wanting to pass, they’re going to be able to direct a lot of money towards really bad things.

Leahy: Will Congress pass that bill?

Spalding: I sure hope not. There’s been a lot of uprising against it. But having said that, it’s got sponsorship by Republicans and Democrats.

Leahy: Which Republicans are sponsoring that bill?

Spalding: Unfortunately, Senator Cornyn from Texas. He’s the chief sponsor.

Leahy: Oh, my goodness. What’s the name of the bill?

Spalding: It is called the Civics Secures Democracy Act. It’s a very generic name. But look it up and you should tell people to call and try to prevent that from passing.

Leahy: Last question for you. Do you think that the federal government should have a role in funding K12 public schools?

Spalding: That’s a great question. Another big theme in our statement and in the report itself. The federal government has no role in shaping curriculum. That was not only not and was intentionally given to the states.

States control curriculum. Do you remember the debate? I think we all remember this huge debate we had on Common Core a number of years ago when the federal government tried to influence the curriculum.

That’s what’s going on again with civics right now with that bill I mentioned and what the administration is

Leahy: The parents are going to have to really move on this aren’t they Matthew Spalding, Executive Director of 1776 Commission. Thanks so much for joining us.

Spalding: And that’s exactly why. Thank you so much.

Leahy: And come down to the Constitution Bee.

Spalding: I would love to.

Listen to the full second 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.
Photo “Matthew Spalding” by Hillsdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Network of Enlightened Women’s University of Florida Co-President Ophelie Jacobson Talks About Her Recent Op-Ed and Being a Conservative on College Campus

Network of Enlightened Women’s University of Florida Co-President Ophelie Jacobson Talks About Her Recent Op-Ed and Being a Conservative on College Campus

 

Live from Music Row Wednesday 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 the Co-President of the (NeW) Network of Enlightened Women at the University of Florida, Ophelie Jacobson to the newsmakers line to discuss her recent op-ed on cancel culture and being a conservative student in college today.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by Ophelie Jacobson. She’s a University of Florida sophomore studying journalism and political science. She’s co-president of the Network of Enlightened Women chapter at the University of Florida.

She penned an op-ed that was first published at the Sarasota Herald Tribune. That’s a Gateway-Gannett publication in Sarasota on March 7. The title is, Can We Just Cancel the Cancel Culture? Good morning over Ophelie.

Jacobson: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me on.

Leahy: Are you in Gainesville today or are you at home?

Jacobson: I’m currently at home in Orlando, Florida.

Leahy: Do you go back to classes in the fall and will they be regular? Will you have to wear masks and will you be in dorms?

Jacobson: So I attend the University of Florida. I’ll be back in person. I was in person for the past year, actually staying in a dorm for my sophomore year. A lot of my classes were online over Zoom, but just recently, actually, on Monday, the university sent out an email saying that masks will not be required on campus for those who are vaccinated, and they’ll be strongly suggested for those who are not vaccinated yet. I’m really excited to see a return to normal on campus in the fall.

Leahy: How weird is it to go to college and do most stuff online and have to wear these dopey masks? What was that year like for you?

Jacobson: It’s definitely different. It definitely has its ups and downs. But with online classes you can wake up 10 minutes before your class, roll out of bed and hop on Zoom. But with in person classes you have to get up, get ready.

But I’m really looking forward to going back to in-person classes because you really get that connection with your professors, with your fellow peers, and students. And you’re also able to concentrate more when you’re in a classroom setting rather than just staring at your computer for hours on end.

Leahy: Let me read the first few lines of your op-ed. It was excellent by the way.

Jacobson: Thank you.

Leahy: Florida State University removed a statue of Francis Epps VII, the former Mayor of Tallahassee and grandson of Thomas Jefferson. Protesters in Chicago tried to tear down a statue of Christopher Columbus. A statue of President George Washington was vandalized and knocked down by seven people in Los Angeles. All of this during the year 2020 alone. What was their sin?

Jacobson: I think their sin was definitely the cancellation of America. Cancel culture, as we’ve seen in the past year, it ceased to destroy a person or a company’s image based solely on personal disagreement. So I would argue in the year 2020 alone, we saw a direct attack on America and American history.

And so the canceling of America is very concerning in our country because if we’re not able to have statues that just simply represent our past as a nation, that yes maybe it has negative parts in American history, but it’s our history nonetheless.

And we should be upholding those basic principles of our history in order to teach our future generations. If you just think about what we’re going to teach the next generation of leaders, they’re not going to have anything to base their history off of if they walk down the street and all the statues are torn down.

Leahy: I learned something from your piece about this fellow, Francis Epps VII. He was a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, born in Monticello and moved down to Tallahassee when he was, I don’t know, 27, 28. A young man when there wasn’t much there in Tallahassee.

Turns out he was a slave owner. But also he donated the buildings and land upon which Florida State University was built. Did they have a list of his sins when they removed his statue? What was the controversy in Tallahassee surrounding that?

Jacobson: The main controversy was that he was a slave owner. And that, for them, that was enough. They said, “We have a long history of addressing difficult racism and inclusion issues on this campus and we know there is so much work to do as the nation faces great unrest and an urgent call for change. We as a University will continue to listen, learn, and evolve.”

And that was said by President John Thrasher of FSU. So that was one of their ways, I guess, of evolving in the wake of everything that was happening in 2020 was to remove this statue, which is unfortunate because like you said, he donated a lot to the University.

I think the students at the University owe him a lot as well for studying there and for using the buildings that he donated. It’s unfortunate to see that just because he was a slave owner in the past, that’s enough for him to get canceled and for a statue to be torn down.

And we saw that again, as I mentioned with Christopher Columbus, President George Washington. It’s super sad to see the cancellation of tangible reminders of those aspects of American history, which, according to these people, are deemed offensive and derogatory.

And by doing that, we actually cancel the opportunity for like I mentioned, future generations to learn about our country and to learn from our past. People always say history repeats itself. How are we supposed to learn from our past if we cancel all tangible reminders of it? And we can’t really learn from our past in order to prevent history from repeating itself in the future.

Leahy: Did you go to attend public schools in Orlando before you went to the University of Florida?

Jacobson: I was actually born in Boston. I attended some public schools there. I lived in San Diego, California, for nine years. I attended some public schools there. And in my last two years of high school, were in Melbourne, Florida.

Leahy: How was American history taught in these public schools that you attended?

Jacobson: For the most part, American history was pretty basic. We learned a wide variety of topics. Everything from the Civil War up until the late 20th century. I think it was pretty basic. But now what we’re seeing with critical race theory, the 1619 Project is a direct attack on our American history.

And again, every single country has its flaws but that doesn’t mean we should exclude that from the history that is taught in classrooms.

Leahy: You’re finishing your second year at the University of Florida. A beautiful campus, by the way, I’ve been down there. I like the University of Florida. When you get to be there I’m sure you’re enjoying the campus there, I would imagine.

Jacobson: Yes, it’s beautiful.

Leahy: What’s it like being a traditional American who likes to study American history? What’s it like at the University of Florida with your peers and the professors there over the past? What has your experience been?

Jacobson: It’s definitely a challenge that has its ups and downs. Being a journalism student as well definitely has its personal challenges. Just last year, I was in a reporting class, and I had a Professor and one of the first assignments that we had to do was to write a profile story about ourselves, our goals and aspirations, and what we wanted to do in the future.

And in that profile story, I’d mentioned that I want to work at a conservative media organization such as One American News or Newsmax. And two days after I submitted the assignment, I got a lengthy email from the professor criticizing my career goals and saying that OANN was fake news. I shouldn’t aspire to work there.

And it was really disheartening to see. Normally, you see professors attack students for their political beliefs. But for a professor to attack my career goals, that was something that I’d never really experienced. I found myself I wasn’t defending my political belief at that moment, I was just defending again my career goals.

But because those goals happened to relate to conservative media outlets, I was automatically targeted. So what I did was I compiled a list of lawsuits that CNN and MSNBC have faced. And I sent that back to him. And I said, if we want to talk about fake news, let’s talk about CNN. Let’s talk about MSNBC.

And so he sent me an email back saying that oh actually, you’re a great journalist now, and I’m looking forward to seeing your work. (Leahy chuckles) And the rest of the semester, I worked really hard to prove him wrong. I gave 100 percent of my all my assignments, so he didn’t have anything to dock me for simply for being a conservative.

This is just one of the many examples. I know I’m not alone. A lot of the girls in our organization have shared similar experiences. So it’s just really unfortunate to see that Conservatives are being targeted on our campuses.

Leahy: What grade you get in that class?

Jacobson: I got over 100 percent. (Chuckles)

Leahy: Well, very good. He was biased, to begin with, but at least you showed him through fact and hard work, and they couldn’t give you a bad grade.

Jacobson: Exactly.

Leahy: I like that. When we come back, I want to talk a little bit more about what’s going on on campuses. Critical race theory and what it’s like to be a conservative in college today.

Listen to the full first 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.
Photo “Ophelie Jacobson” by Ophelie Jacobson. Background Photo “Florida Campus” by WillMcC. CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prof. and Author of ‘Debunking Howard Zinn,’ Mary Graybar Joins the Tennessee Star Report to Talk About Her Approach to the New Book

Prof. and Author of ‘Debunking Howard Zinn,’ Mary Graybar Joins the Tennessee Star Report to Talk About Her Approach to the New Book

 

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 all-star panelist, professor, and author of Debunking Howard Zinn, Mary Grabar to the newsmakers line to discuss her new book and some background into Zinn and the Communist Party USA.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by Mary Graybar. She’s the author of Debunking Howard Zinn Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation Against America. She is a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the study of Western civilization in Clinton, New York. Good morning Professor Graybar.

Grabar: Good morning.

Leahy: We’re delighted to have you on the program. by the way, I grew up not far from where you are this very moment. I grew up in Munsville New York, which is near Oneida. just south of 97 miles. I attended Stockbridge Valley Central school when they were not teaching Howard Zinn. (Chuckles)

Grabar: (Chuckles) Oh, there there was a place when they weren’t teaching Howard Zinn.

Leahy: There was a place in time. So you grew up in Slovenia when it was still part of Communist Yugoslavia.

Grabar: Sorry. I didn’t grow up there. I came here when I was two.

Leahy: Oh you were born there.

Grabar: Yeah. Yeah, I grew up in Rochester, New York.

Leahy: Oh not too far away. I grew up right around there. I was actually born in Oswego. So I know that neck of the woods. So tell us about Debunking Howard Zinn. When did you become aware of the ubiquitous Anti-American nature of this Howard Zinn book that has Basically dominated K12 public education for many years now?

Grabar: Well, it was around 2008. I wasn’t yet completely canceled from teaching. I was teaching in Georgia. teaching college. I have a Ph.D. in English. I’d gone through the torture of graduate school. I managed to find some good professors and I started writing about the corruption of education from the inside and. Howard Zinn was still alive.

And I wrote an article about him and then I presented a report that I wrote at a conference upon the release of his FBI file shortly after he died in 2010. and that’s close to 500 pages. And what that revealed upon examination by another historian was that Howard Zinn had been a member of the Communist Party USA in the late 1940s and early 1950s. And so I started looking into him and had proposed this book back in 2011.

And the project fell through. and then I was contacted again in 2017. and I’ve been keeping track of Howard Zinn and his very very popular people’s history of the United States which has broken all kinds of sales records. And so I started writing this book in late 2017 and it came out in the summer of 2019. I couldn’t even imagine what I would find in terms of the Distortion, the manipulation of information, and the outright lies, you know that are in this is pseudo-history book that’s used in classrooms across the country.

Leahy: Why is it been so widely adopted? Because I think you know by the time it came out 1980 we already had the long march into the institutions of the radical professors from the 1960s who avoided the draft and who were neo-Marxist in their thinking. The way it had been prepared for him, so we were kind of used to these new interpretations of history according to a Marxist blind.

And he just took it the next step further and basically wrote a communist version of American history. I mean, you can go back to Marx and Engels and you see a lot of that and Howard Zinn’s book and William Z. Foster the CPUSA chairman and the 1950s who by the way was the chairman while Zinn was in the Communist Party. And so we kind of heard echoes of it, but he really outright lies in the book.

He distorts the evidence, leaves out keywords, and makes things up. And what I did is I just went through the key chapters in his book with a fine-tooth comb and looked up the sources and looked up what the real histories and exposed him. And also he also plagiarizes by the way, which would automatically get your book kicked out if you or someone other than Howard Zinn.

Leahy: Wow. How has your book been received?

Grabar: It’s been well received as you can imagine in conservative circles and people who care about American history. If you go to the Amazon page, you’ll see overwhelmingly that I have five stars. And then the next biggest category is one star and these are not the verified purchasers and they haven’t even cracked the cover of the book because there really are Zinn worshippers out there.

They believe he is the be-all and end-all as far as historians are concerned and they just will close their eyes and stop up their ears if you say anything bad about him. So there really is this cult-like following. And I think it emerges from the fact that his book is used in the lower grades. There’s a young people’s history of the United States.

Leahy: If you bring your book to any K-12 Board of Education and you were to say read this book and throw out Howard Zinn’s books from the curriculum. What kind of response would you get?

Grabar: Well they tend to be wishy-washy. People don’t really understand the extent of how much he distorts history. And they tend to think well, you just need two different views of it, even of history, even if one is based on falsehoods. And so they tend to you know not be well-informed. A person who is well informed I would hope would pick up the book and find the evidence for these charges that have been made against Howard Zinn for four decades. For decades now, others have been complaining about his distorted history. But what I do is I look at the particular points he makes, look at passages, and expose what he does to distort the real history and make it into a communist version of American history.

Leahy: Do you have any hope for the future of public education and in the study of history in America?

Grabar: It looks pretty grim right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I was hopeful with President Trump’s move of The 1776 commission has got some great people on there. Carol Swain was the co-chair and there was some Hope For Real reform. I was at that conference on Constitution Day and President Biden is just dismantling everything. I think the way to begin is to just keep kids out of public school. (Gasps) If I had a small child today, I would keep him or her out of school. Definitely and even if they’re in a private school keep a close eye on what they’re being taught because a lot of these teachers find their ways into private schools and they’ve been radicalized in their own education and try to impose that on young children and teenagers.

Leahy: It’s interesting. You say keep your kids out of public schools. That’s what I’ve been saying here on the air for well over a year. I think the kids come out and they hate America. This is not a good thing.

Grabar: Yeah, they really have been brainwashed and it’s not only by what you know the facts that Howard Zinn distorts and presents but it’s also the way the information is presented. It’s very emotionally manipulative. The teachers are teaching social and emotional learning there are (Inaudible talk) and that’s kind of exposed in his book. So yeah, it’s it’s really really really dangerous.

Leahy: Mary Graybar, author of Debunking Howard Zinn Exposing the Fake history that turned a generation against America. You can buy the book on Amazon. Mary, will you come back for a more extended discussion of where we can go in the future with our kids?

Grabar: Oh, absolutely I’d love it.

Listen to the full second 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.
Image “Mary Grabar” by Mary Grabar