State Representative Scott Cepicky: We Have to Repair the Adversarial Relationship Between Parents and School Systems

State Representative Scott Cepicky: We Have to Repair the Adversarial Relationship Between Parents and School Systems

Live from Music Row, Tuesday 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 State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-TN-Culleoka) in studio to discuss working on the education committee in the Tennessee General Assembly and turning around public school education.

Leahy: Right now in studio, State Representative Scott Cepicky is here with us. Scott, busy day for you, right?

Cepicky: Oh yeah. Busy day for me today.

Leahy: You represent Maury County.

Cepicky: I do, yes.

Leahy: When were you elected?

Cepicky: 2018.

Leahy: This is what your third, fourth, or fifth year.

Cepicky: Fifth year, third term.

Leahy: Does it get any easier?

Cepicky: No.

Leahy: It doesn’t?

Cepicky: No.

Leahy: But you’re probably more experienced now in the process, and you were the first term, right?

Cepicky: Yes. I think what happens is longevity and drive brings more responsibility. Especially in being in education. (Chuckles) There are easier places to get involved in the general assembly and education is not one of them. Most members up there do not want to be on education.

Leahy: And why is that?

Cepicky: It’s very difficult.

Leahy: And why is it difficult?

Cepicky: It’s very passionate and you’re affecting children’s lives. And besides healthcare, it’s the biggest budgetary item that we have in our budget.

Leahy: And politically all throughout the state of Tennessee, teachers and administrators are politically powerful as groups and as individuals.

Cepicky: They are. But the focus, and I go back to my childhood when I remember education. I remember going with my mom and dad to those PTA meetings when everybody smoked back then.

And the room would be smoke-filled, literally. But there’d be 300 or 400 parents there. Not yelling at the teachers or the administrators having a dialogue back and forth on how they can be helpful to the student.

Leahy: Back then, the administrators would actually listen to the parents.

Cepicky: And so we’ve gotten to this adversarial relationship between parents and the school system. And so we’ve gotta try to repair that. And one of the ways we repair that in my mind, is going back to the fundamentals and basics of things that used to be the building blocks of education and keep working forward, stacking year after year, on top of each other to where you get a child that can think for themselves, that can do the research for themselves…

Leahy: Can read and write, do arithmetic and art. You start with that?

Cepicky: Right. And articulate a point and defend it. It’s a big challenge we have in education. We have been making a lot of progress over the last three or four years.

We are really starting to turn this battleship around to the point where we’re probably getting to a point where we’re going pull back from English language arts reading, and now we’re going to shift our focus to mathematics.

Leahy: Color me skeptical here for a moment.

Cepicky: Go ahead.

Leahy: When you say we’re turning the battleship around, I see it differently.

Cepicky: Go ahead.

Leahy: I think the battleship is sinking further into the mire. Having said all that, you’ve been really one of the great leaders in the Tennessee General Assembly for education reform.

Cepicky: I’ve been one of the leaders. There’s nobody that passes a bill by themselves. It takes 50 votes in the House and 17 votes in the Senate. It takes a lot of support. You have to argue through a lot of debate with the lobbyists and people that are trying to keep the status quo because there’s $9 billion…

Leahy: A lot of money.

Cepicky: Floating around out there for companies and lobbying firms and people to take advantage of. The problem we’ve gotten to Michael is that in earlier education, you had the money surrounding the teachers and the students. That’s all it was. Money surrounded the teachers and the students providing ample time, good curriculums, and with foundational basics to build on.

Leahy: And now we’re talking about 20 or 30 years ago.

Cepicky: Right. And now today, the money is everything, right? We get into conversations and education committees, and I’ll sit there for 30 minutes, and I won’t hear the word student one time. It’ll be money this, this program, that curriculum, this textbook. And I’m like, what about the kids? Are we doing what’s right for these kids?

Leahy: That’s a key point. Public education ought to be about educating kids in a safe environment. And it’s really about the money. It’s about, who gets the money? And it’s not really about the kids.

Cepicky: No. No.

Leahy: And that’s a big problem.

Cepicky: 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s before the creation of the Department of Education, we used to lead the nation in education. It was awesome. Public school education was outstanding.

Leahy: Not so much these days, and we’ll come back. You’ve got a couple of bills up. We’ll talk about it.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Scott Cepicky” by State Representative Scott Cepicky. Background Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.


TN-5 Republican Candidate Beth Harwell Committed to Six-Year Term and Reducing the Footprint of the Department of Education

TN-5 Republican Candidate Beth Harwell Committed to Six-Year Term and Reducing the Footprint of the Department of Education

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 TN-5 Republican candidate Beth Harwell to the newsmaker line to discuss her commitment, if elected, to a maximum 6-year term and slowly dismantling the Department of Education, bringing money back to local governments in the state.

Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line with a new breaking story. Former speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Beth Harwell. Good morning, Beth.

Harwell: Good morning. Good to be with you all this morning.

Leahy: So you have just released a statement that you have endorsed the U.S. term limits amendment and you pledge to serve if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, a maximum of three terms. Tell us about that.

Harwell: Right. I served in the Tennessee Legislature, which is indeed a citizen legislature. It’s a part-time job. You can’t make a living serving in the state legislature, which means you have to find another job.

And I’ve always been a teacher, and I think that’s critical. People that serve in the legislature in Tennessee don’t visit their districts. They live in their districts and they live under the laws that they pass for everyone else.

That’s not the case in Washington, D.C. And that’s why I’m committed to serving for just six years. In eight years, we were able to accomplish great things for the state of Tennessee as Speaker. And I will serve six years and vote the will of the people and then come back home.

Leahy: How did you come to this decision to make this announcement that you’re just going to serve three terms, if elected, you’re a candidate for the Republican nomination to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in the new 5th Congressional District, which covers the lower third of Davidson County, the western half of Wilson, the eastern half of Williamson County, all of Marshall, all of Maury, and all of Lewis County. How did you come to this decision?

Harwell: I’ve always felt that this was the correct thing to do to limit your time and service. I held back for many years because I was fearful that it would make the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., more powerful. And we certainly don’t want that.

But I also think that it incentivizes us to go up there and do the right thing and do it quickly because we don’t as a nation have much more time in which we can allow elected officials in Washington to just not get the job done. So I think this is the right time to make a pledge such as this.

Leahy: Now, what’s it been like for you out on the campaign trail? We saw each other at the Wilson County Trump Day Dinner on Thursday.

There are 11 candidates there. You were one of the 11. You got to speak there. What are you seeing out on the campaign trail?

Harwell: Well, people are interested in this. I think, just as I’ve heard on your radio show this morning, I think people also are concerned with getting the May election over with before they start concentrating on what will be the August election.

But like today, I will spend my day in Lewis County and have a lot of good folks taking me around Lewis County to meet and greet and get to know people a little bit better. People are concerned about the direction of our nation.

They are very concerned with the high cost of living right now. They’re concerned with protecting our borders and I think what I hear consistently is that they feel that the fiscal insanity that they see in Washington, D.C. has got to come to an end.

Leahy: What would be the very first bill that you would introduce if you were to be elected to serve in Congress and would be sworn in in January of 2023?

Harwell: Something that’s been a passion of mine for some time now is the whole issue of education, which is such a critical thing for our nation going forward.

I know I can’t completely eliminate the U.S. Department of Education at least as a freshman at first blush. But I think I could begin to reduce the size of it and return that money back to state and local governments where it can be more efficiently and effectively spent.

Leahy: It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you introduced a bill to entirely abolish the Department of Education.

Harwell: It would be my ultimate goal. You’re right about that, and I certainly understand how the process works, and I might very well do that and take what I can get, because I do think the U.S. Department of Education is bloated and is not doing anything to help our children.

Leahy: It’s interesting the way that you phrase that because you could either go in and say, let’s abolish it entirely. That bill would probably not get a lot of traction the first term or, I guess you’re taking a more incremental approach by saying let’s reduce its footprint and let’s give that money back to the state. Is that your approach on that one?

Harwell: That is correct. I’m realistic about this. I know that they administer the Pell Grants and some other things at the federal level, but slowly we can return those responsibilities back to the state governments or the local governments, as opposed to having the federal bureaucrats who, by the way, never teach a single child how to read or write.

Leahy: That’s a very true statement.

Listen to the interview:

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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 “Beth Harwell” by Beth Harwell. 













All-Star Panelist Roger Simon on Federal Bribe Money to Implement Critical Race Theory in State K-12 Public Schools

All-Star Panelist Roger Simon on Federal Bribe Money to Implement Critical Race Theory in State K-12 Public Schools


Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 Senior Editor-At-Large at The Epoch Times Roger Simon to the studio to discuss his recent article suggesting Donald Trump 2.0 become the education president and questioned whether or not Tennessee will stop the federal bribe money encouraging critical race theory in the K-12 public schools.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by the newest all-star panelist for The Tenessee Star Report, my former boss at PJTV, and also an editor at large for The Epoch Times, the fastest-growing newspaper and website in America, Roger Simon. Roger, we’re talking about education. Our lead story at The Tennessee Star. Williamson County School System Officials Deny They Are Pushing Critical Race Theory, Critics Call it Marxist. You have a terrific column at The Epoch Times. You suggest that Donald Trump 2 0 should be the education president.

Simon: Yes. Principally to fight this stuff, to get rid of it, because it’s almost a cancer on our country. I mean, I hate to be so grim because when I come here in the morning…

Leahy: Yeah, but, Roger, you’re being honest.

Simon: I’m being honest and truth of the matter, as Michael and I have discussed here in the morning and drive time, we should be a little bit upbeat.

Leahy: We should be. We try to be, but we have to be honest.

Simon: Exactly. And this is a red line for anybody. Because imagine trying to teach a six-year-old the most important thing about his or her life is skin color.

Leahy: It’s crazy.

Simon: That’s what critical race theory is all about. It’s about the subversion of the United States because it’s a replacement for the old Marxist line of class struggle. It didn’t work. So some eggheads in Europe decided oh, well, let’s make it about race now which is actually, in my view, worse.

Leahy: It’s all about race from the Democrats. It looks like the Democrats at every level, with help from mainstream media and Big Tech, are trying to create a race war in America. That’s what it looks like to me.

Simon: Well, they’re doing it. They’re not trying and in part succeeding. The fact that critical race theory is now and, you know, it’s in our schools and it’s in our schools because the Department of Education puts funding on it. Hello, Governor Lee. Don’t take their money. This is a bribe. The states are being bribed to teach this stuff. It’s a pretty scary thing.

That’s why I’m recommending in the article that if there’s a Trump 2.0 or a DeSantis 1.0, that the first thing they do is change the Department of Education, which maybe should be obliterated altogether. But you’ve got to make a transition and take someone like the great Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College and come in there and right the ship. Then you can destroy.

Leahy: Great minds think alike, Roger, because tomorrow morning at six o’clock on this very program, Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, will be our guest to talk about these things.

Simon: Well, I’ll have to get up early. I know Larry pretty well, but I have to get up early to listen to that one because he’s a great person. When you talk about a great American, he’s a great American.

Leahy: So you were talking about the nefarious Department of Education becoming even more nefarious under the Biden-Harris maladministration. There is a regulation now being considered by the Department of Education, and they’re promulgating it. Meaning they’re getting comments on it before they finalize it. And they’re jamming this thing down. What they’re doing is they are going to make available to teachers around the country grants to teach critical race theory and be the false tenants of the discredited 1619 Project from The New York Times.

Simon: Yep.

Leahy: Money is coming to Tennessee teachers. Now, having said that, your point is…

Simon: Don’t take it.

Leahy: Governor Lee should lead the way.

Simon: He’s the one who has to do it. I know he’s probably suffering somewhere with DeSantis envy. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: Hold on, DeSantis envy? Did you just coin that phrase right now?

Simon: Just this second yes.

Leahy: I love that phrase. And apparently every Republican potential national figure apparently now has DeSantis envy.

Simon: Well, they should. He’s shown himself to be the guy, but it’s not so hard to do what he’s doing. And all you have to have is little guts. And just remember the famous phrase of H.L. Mencken the journalist from Baltimore years ago. “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” And that’s what’s going on here, as you just said. They’re presenting the states with bribes, essentially, to teach this pollution.

Leahy: And directly the money under this regulation, which I expect will be approved. They’re just going through the motions on these commentaries.

Simon: They put up a phony thing like that, and then they do it.

Leahy: So my guess is within the next 60 days, the Department of Education will announce the availability of grants to teach critical race theory and the 1619 Project. The premise of the 1619 Project, discredited, by the way, by all real historians, is that America was based upon slavery from the very beginning.

Simon: It was even walked back eventually by The New York Times, where it was first published. And The New York Times doesn’t walk back much of this stuff anyway.

Leahy: So what’s going to happen is we’re at the end of April, probably in July of this year the Department of Education will send out a missive to every public school district in America, including 145 of them here in Tennessee. And every teacher of government, history, and civics, and even math and other areas will be allowed to apply for grants that will enable them to have materials to teach critical race theory. And the 1619 Project. What is the state of Tennessee doing right now to stop that, Roger?

Simon: Well, we don’t know. I mean, it’s sitting in the lap of the governor, and I think and of course, the legislature. I think every single one and we have to watch everybody because everybody depends on this. If this stuff goes through across the country and in Tennessee is the last place that it goes through. The electorate here in Tennessee is more to the right than it is in Florida and yet and DeSantis has already put a blockade against this.

Leahy: Yes, he has.

Simon: He made a statement.

Leahy: We are not teaching critical race theory in Florida’s K-12 public schools.

Simon: A high percentage of the people are listening to this now like a parent and or grandparents or whatever. And everybody has a stake in this. This is not minor. This is not one of those things where you shrug it off and they say oh global warming, they’re making me buy an electric car. Well, this is the brain.

Leahy: Our reporter who’s covered this, Chris Butler, has put numerous requests for comment about the actions Governor Lee will take to stop the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 public schools in Tennessee. And the only line that I’ve stolen from a good friend, Howie Carr, in Boston, the Boston radio talk show king. When the phone didn’t ring, we knew it was Governor Bill Lee. (Laughter)

Simon: Well, that’s a pretty tough line. But, you know, he has an opportunity to show that, I mean, look, it’s going to be remembered. This is something that is not going to be forgotten because it’s going to be in the schools come the next primary.

Leahy: We’ve talked to several state legislators, and they are putting something together. I don’t know if they will have it together in a timely manner before the Tennesse General Assembly adjourns this session. Probably by next Friday.

Simon: Ding, ding, ding. This is an emergency more than most things.

Leahy: I think every listener to this program, Roger, would agree with you that stopping the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 public schools right now in Tennessee is an emergency. And we’ll see if the governor and the legislature are up to the task on that one.

Listen to the full broadcast 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.