IWF’s Carrie Sheffield Weighs in on Wokeism, Critical Race Theory, and the ‘Manifestation of a Liberal Wishlist’

IWF’s Carrie Sheffield Weighs in on Wokeism, Critical Race Theory, and the ‘Manifestation of a Liberal Wishlist’

 

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 IWF’s Senior Fellow Carrie Sheffield to the newsmakers line to discuss the woke agenda and implementation of critical race theory into public schools and how the Biden infrastructure plan will hurt the lower 20 percent of earners in the U.S.

Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend, whom we’ve never met but we’re glad to meet her now, Carrie Sheffield. Carrie, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Sheffield: Hey, Michael, great to be here. How are you?

Leahy: I’m great, Carrie. We have so many friends in common. You are a BYU grad. You went to Harvard, got a master’s in public policy there. And did you know a Professor there by the name of Dutch Leonard when you were at Harvard? He’s probably retired by now because he was an undergrad teacher of mine.

Sheffield: Okay.

Leahy: But you also started as a reporter with Politico and The Hill. You’re an entrepreneur. You started Bold TV for millennials. That’s a great venture. Most recently, you’ve been the White House correspondent for our good friend John Solomon’s Just the News and have left now to join as a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum. Carrie, you’ve had a very, very productive and busy life.

Sheffield: Hey, thank you. That’s so kind of you. I have taken a breather right now. Being a fellow, I’m just delving into the policy and I love it. And Yes, John Solomon, and thanks for the plug for that. He’s fantastic. Go to justthenews.com, amazing content.

Leahy: Well, you know, my sense on this is that although you have been a reporter for a long time, I think there’s something in you. You’re a thinker about issues and I think you want the time to reflect. Do I have that right?

Sheffield: You know what? You hit the nail on the head, Michael. Yes, that’s kind of why I jumped back into the think tank. And that’s what we do at Independent Women’s Form, where we really break down the policy. And I love that. At Just the News it is just the news and I wanted to make sure to keep that firewall. And so I have a lot of opinions and at the Independent Women’s Forum, I’m allowed to share those opinions.

Leahy: A very good point. I know you have several topics you want to hit, but let’s talk about this problem of wokeism in our public and private schools today. It seems you cannot turn around without seeing it. And we have a story here in Williamson County a suburb of Nashville, where they’re introducing critical race theory into the K-12 schools here. They’re saying it’s not critical race theory, but parents are saying my kids are coming home saying, I hate myself because I’m white. That’s going on everywhere.

Sheffield: It really is. And we did some reporting about an elite school in New York City as well called the Brearley School, which is a private school. Very often you think of the private school system as a kind of relief from public schools, but not so in this one. They’re doing the same thing. They’re doing the critical race theory, and it’s coming in everywhere, the public schools, and private schools.

And it ultimately is a rejection of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, which was that we don’t judge people by the color of their skin. We judge them by the content of their character. And what critical race theory is teaching is this narrative of suppressors and being victimized. And if you’re white, you have no choice but you are part of the suppressor class.

And there is just the slicing and dicing of America based on race. And it’s tribalism at its very worst. And it’s really toxic and tragic that this is taken over our school system. And if you even try to say something, I’m white, and oftentimes when I’m talking to liberals and I try to mention Dr. King, I’m not allowed to even say that because I’m white and that by its very definition, is racism.

Leahy: How can we fix this problem, Carrie? Because you talk to state legislators and we talked to a lot of them here in Tennessee but really, they’re not setting the tone for the schools. This critical race theory curriculum has seeped everywhere. Teachers do it independently. The school boards put it in. The school directors put it in. What’s the solution?

Sheffield: I think the parents should absolutely fight back. It’s a different topic, but there was a success. For example, in California, when it comes to school choice, the parents were the ones who took the leadership there to allow for school choice. So I would recommend to parents to be vocal about it and to push back and say, I am not going to allow my child to be indoctrinated, to hate people of other races, or to feel ashamed of their family background. This is just fundamentally anti-American. I think parents should not be afraid to speak out about this. I interviewed Dennis Prager earlier this year, and he said his solution is to take your kids out and to home school them. So that’s always an option, too.

Leahy: Well, it’s interesting because we have a bunch of parents who met last night in Williamson County in the suburb of Nashville here, and the school director refused to show up. One of 12 school board members showed up and said pretty much the same thing, tell everybody you don’t like this. The problem is the parents that do tell folks this don’t get much relief. The institution, to me of K-12 public education, seems to be corrupted beyond repair. That’s my view.

Sheffield: You know, it is local. That is the beauty of America. And we are seeing at a macro level people migrating out of these liberal States like California, and like out of New York. I was reading data from the U.S. Census Bureau and I think it was 16 states that lost population in 2020 just through that census in 10 years. And so that’s the other option. You can always vote with your feet if it really is that bad. And I know a lot of parents do move for schools. You can go to a state where this toxic critical race theory is not allowed.

Leahy: The only state that I see that happening Carrie right now is Florida. That’s not been pushed back here against in Tennessee. And people are moving to Tennessee because we have low taxes and it’s a great place to live.

Sheffield: Right. Well, I think also a lot of it can happen at the local level. I don’t know in particular if this is coming down from the state of Tennessee as opposed to the local level. But I do know that local districts often will respond to parents. And so I think there are options, whether that’s petitioning, maybe putting things on local referendums, or putting things for a vote. There are options.

Leahy: You also want to talk about Joe Biden’s infrastructure program which looks like anything but infrastructure. Where does that stand right now?

Sheffield: I like to say it’s like that phrase, where’s the beef? Where’s the infrastructure? (Chuckles) And Newsweek was reporting it’s only about six percent of his plan overall. This is even according to a White House fact sheet that it was proposing only 115 billion or ‘modernizing the bridges and roads that are in most critical need of repair.’

But the vast majority of this is really just a liberal grab bag of many other things. In terms of the answer to your question of where things stand, the word on the street is that Republicans have their alternative plan they said they want to do. The price tag here for Joe Biden is out of control. He says he wants to do it in two different ways and in two different packages, and it could be upwards of four trillion dollars when you slice and divide them up.

But about two trillion for the first one. What it honestly is is a move to try to unwind what the Republicans did with their tax reform that was passed in 2017. What this bill would do is hike the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. And what that would do is make us the highest-taxed nation within the OECD.

The developed countries put our tax rate to 32.34 percent and that’s going to cause people to lose jobs. And you know, what’s sad is it the bottom 20 percent of earners the poorest among us are going to see a 1.5 percent drop in their after-tax income in the long run according to the Tax Foundation if this bill is passed. So it really doesn’t have hardly anything to do with infrastructure, it really is just a manifestation of a liberal wish list.

Leahy: Last question for Kerry Sheffield, a senior fellow with Independent Women’s Forum. When are you coming to Nashville so we can have you here in studio with us?

Sheffield: Oh, I would love that.

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 “Carrie Sheffield” by Patrick Ryan. CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IWF’s Sr. Policy Analyst Patrice Onwuka Talks Biden Rubber Stamped Policies, Trump at CPAC, and the Hypocrisy of the Left

IWF’s Sr. Policy Analyst Patrice Onwuka Talks Biden Rubber Stamped Policies, Trump at CPAC, and the Hypocrisy of the Left

 

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 Independent Women’s Forum Senior Policy Analyst, Patrice Onwuka to the newsmakers line.

During the second hour, Onwuka reviewed the Biden administration’s COVID relief package that would essentially bail out blue cities and states and sweeping legislation not mentioned on the campaign trail. She also forewarned in the coming weeks of rubber-stamped legislation that would be detrimental to American workers and families and highlighted the hypocrisy of the left.

Leahy: We are joined once again by Patrice Onwuka of the Independent Women’s Forum a very important writer here. And she’s been tracking what’s been going on with the Biden administration. I think you’re perhaps less enthused about it than many in Washington D.C. are. Welcome, Patricia. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Onwuka: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Michael Patrick.

Leahy: By Patrice that that is very common. People actually refer to me as Patrick sometimes because it’s in their mind that Senator Patrick Leahy my distant cousin whom I’ve never met. Distant cousin. Is perhaps the most famous Leahy of the world at the moment. And I have to say we’ve never met and although I did invite him to be on a Leahy Family Feud program back in 2009 when I was at the PJTV with a little Internet TV show.

He declined. We’re on opposites of the spectrum. But he does look a bit like my grandfather. (Chuckles) I’ll tell you that. You have been talking and writing a little bit about the Biden administration. What’s your current take on what they’re up to?

Onwuka: It’s distressful. Frankly all of the things that then-candidate Biden at the time hid. Everything from his energy policies to his labor policies that he didn’t cover on the campaign trail. But we’re now seeing between the sweeping executive orders that were passed within the first month to now this $1.9 trillion COVID relief package which has everything and the kitchen sink that Democrats have always wanted to pass through.

And that’s just the start. I think over the next few weeks we are going to see some major sweeping legislative proposals that he has been rubber-stamped. Everything from election changes to labor policies. It’s going to be scary for the American worker and the American family.

Leahy: Yes. I must agree with you about that. Many Republicans have said look this one point nine trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package as it’s called, only about nine percent of the one point nine trillion dollars actually goes for Coronavirus relief. About 350 billion goes to bailouts for fiscally irresponsible blue cities and blue states. There is a lot of other pork in that bill as well.

Onwuka: Oh absolutely. There’s money for union pension. Money for Planned Parenthood. For the universities for the arts. Even Nancy Pelosi, she’s going to be bringing home tens of billions of dollars to California for things like transit projects. So it’s not surprising that that that I think progressives or those on the left would try and use this massive sweeping spending bill to tuck their favorite pet projects in there and hope that because it has the name COVID relief that people will just pass it right off the bat.

We did see that the House passed the bill. Although there were there was enough pushback from Democrats. And the question is what’s going to happen when it comes up for a vote in the Senate either this week or next week? And not surprisingly it’s going to be a party-line vote. However, they’ve got to ensure that all 50 of their Democrats stay in line. If not, this bill could be sunk.

Leahy: So the two Democratic senators whose names come up most often as possible opponents to the bill are Manchin of West Virginia and Kristen Sinema of Arizona. Do you have any indications reading the tea leaves of where they stand?

Onwuka: Because the $15 minimum wage increases if not likely to be part of the final package. They’re more likely to vote Yes. Now that’s not guaranteed but that $15 federal minimum wage hike was going to be the death knell for this whole bill. Now thankfully we saw the parliamentarian the person who decides, what can and cannot be in a sweeping spending bill like this.

She said hey, no this can’t be in there. Unfortunately, Senator Bernie Sanders was very sad. I  insert the meme of him sitting with his legs folded and a sad face because this was really his pet that $15 minimum wage. So because it’s not likely to pass with that in there I think you’ll see Sinema and Manchin come on board. Now, that’s not to say that that something someone else may not hop out. I mean, it’s like a basket of kittens you put one in another one can come out if they don’t get some guarantees or something in that bill that they really want for their folks.

Leahy: I’d be curious as to your reaction to President Trump’s speech at CPAC over the weekend. Did you like it? Do you think he was on top of his game? And who reported on that? I didn’t see much of it in the mainstream media.

Onwuka: No, I think Fox News maybe and Newsmax and some of those more right leading Outlets or are actually independent leading outlets. They covered it. I watched a speech I thought I would have loved to have seen more of this President Trump on the campaign trail because he really number one touted a lot of the great accomplishments that his administration passed on everything from Immigration policies shoring up our borders to the robust economies we had going into the coronavirus pandemic.

And thank goodness the economy was as strong as it was because I think that has softened the blow for workers and I know we’ve got millions of people who are still unemployed. But I think it could have been worse. So he did a great job of laying out what he did when he was in office and then contrasting with what Joe Biden is doing.

His far swing to the left and the fact that a lot of these policies that he kept on the campaign trail and that the media did not ask him about we’re now seeing. And so I think it’s in its opening the eyes of many people. I wish you’d stayed away from the electoral stuff and kind of the campaign was stolen language.

But he absolutely did redefine that the Republican Party is a party based on ideas and policies of low taxes, leadership, America first policies that prioritize American workers and American businesses, and of secure safe borders and safe neighborhoods and communities. Those are really strong conservative topics and issues and I think he’s saying this is who we are.

Leahy: Patrice and woke us senior policy Analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum. One word comes to mind when I look at what Joe Biden is doing with the Biden administration is doing what all the Democrats in Congress are doing. That word is hypocrisy. (Laughter) and you know, there’s a case in point. Did you see the story about what the leader of the California teachers union has been doing?

Onwuka: Oh, yes. Oh yes. (Chuckles)

Leahy: Tell our audience about this because it just I mean I saw this and my eyes glazed over.

Onwuka: Oh this guy, he’s priceless. He’s a young man with a little girl and I think she was in Pre-K or a Kindergartner. He was walking her to Pre-K in the morning. Both of them wearing their masks crossing the street. And that should be fine right? Except he is the president of the teachers’ unions in one of the biggest I think cities or maybe the across the state of California and he is taking his daughter to a private institution where she’s able to learn and play.

Leahy: In person!

Onwuka: In person. But all of the kids in California in a lot of districts in public schools do not have that blessing or that benefit. And I think it highlights the hypocrisy of a lot of these leftist leaders and particularly teachers’ union folks who rail against school choice. Who rail against the idea that poor kids should be able to take the federal funds that go to public school and take those two private options, to parochial schools, to charter schools, or even homeschooling and giving them that choice these folks they have a choice they can afford to pay for private school.

They can afford to pay for private tutors, but they do not want to give that to you know, the poor black and brown kids. And hey, by the way, listeners, I’m a Black kid. I grew up in a poor neighborhood with an immigrant family and I made it. And thank goodness. I wish my story could be replicated because of school choice but the teachers’ unions will not allow it.

Leahy: Patrice Onwuka, senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum. Thanks so much for joining us again. And please come back and come visit us in Nashville.

Onwuka: Alright. Thank you, Mike.

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 “Patrice Onwuka” by Independent Women’s Forum. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inez Feltscher Stepman Weighs in on Why School Choice Is Now More Important Than Ever

Inez Feltscher Stepman Weighs in on Why School Choice Is Now More Important Than Ever

 

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 Inez Feltscher Stepman who is the senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum to the newsmakers line.

During the second hour, Stepman outlined what she saw as the Biden administration’s agenda for public schools revealing the opportunity states would have in response giving parents choice and leverage. She later explained how over two dozen viable school choice programs and expansions of those programs have been proposed by legislatures in 17 states nationwide.

Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line now by Inez Stepman. A senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum and a senior contributor to The Federalist. She has a B.A. in philosophy from the University of California at San Diego. A J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and she lives in New York City now with her husband. Inez, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Stepman: It’s great to be here. Thanks.

Leahy: So you have had a little bit of a geographic tour of the United States. San Diego, UVA Law School, and New York City. These are three places that are really quite different, aren’t they?

Stepman: Absolutely. And in between that I lived in Phoenix for a short time. Definitely a couple of other places as well. So I’ve done a lot of looking around America, which has been really great actually. I’ve driven back and forth as well a few times which has been awesome. It’s a great country.

Leahy: It gives you a good perspective that I think that a lot of people, you know in Washington D.C. who’ve lived there all their lives don’t quite have. I wanted to have you on the program today it is because you wrote a really great op-ed at The Hill about a week ago. Coronavirus Spotlights Why School Choice is More Important Than Ever. Tell us about your argument.

Stepman: Well, I think Americans have been forced to recognize a truth that maybe some of us who have been working in education policy or have seen working with teachers unions or opposition to teachers unions for quite some time. But I think it’s now it’s hard to deny that teachers unions and generally the district schools, priorities are simply are not children’s education. Their priorities are protecting the adults in our system.

And I think these school reopening battles across the country have really shown how that’s true. And it’s made it really clear to a lot of families who might have thought previously that they might have had issues with their district school. They might have not liked what’s being taught and social studies or something like that. But they thought that the school was generally well-intentioned and that the priority of a lot of the adults was an education for their children.

And unfortunately, we’re seeing that these negotiations in many cases are not taking place with good faith on the part of unions or good faith on the part of school districts. They are essentially ignoring family’s needs and their children’s needs because they can. Because the system is set up to allow them to continue to ignore families.

Leahy: Let me read this paragraph from your excellent op-ed at The Hill. “President Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona remains somewhat of a cipher. However, Biden’s choice for Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten is primarily known for keeping San Diego schools firmly closed and injecting critical race theory into classrooms including praising a proposal to send all White teachers to quote ‘anti-racist therapy.'” What does the Biden administration have in line for school choice and education in America?

Stepman: Well, I think that the first EO the Biden administration put out within the first couple of days of the administration is a good indicator of where that administration is going to go on education. And that is the EO on Title 9, which people are focusing on sports, right? So this EO demands essentially defines discrimination on the basis of sex in our civil rights law as including gender identity and including the ability of biological males for example to run on the women’s track team. But it’s broader than just sports, right?

It applies to locker rooms and applies to bathrooms or any kind of real single-sex environments at Public Schools. I think that’s a good indication of where the administration is going because I think it’s going to be a lot of culturally “woke” EOs, policies, or Grant programs. Now, fortunately, the vast majority of education decisions are still made on the state level. It’s at the state and local levels.

The vast majority of the money that goes to fund education comes from the state and local. And so the good news is I think the states have an enormous opportunity to push back against this and to push back against repeated school closures and sometimes ridiculous demands from teachers. For example in Fairfax County in Virginia teachers unions are actually demanding that schools stay shut and not resume normal in-person learning until well into 2022.

They’re saying that they don’t want to reopen until all the students not just all the teachers but all the students are vaccinated. We don’t even have a vaccine approved for kids yet. So, you know that we’re talking about years and years of kids’ lives and their education is on hold until well into 2022. I think that problem and to push back against whatever woke EOs the Biden administration has in store for schools, states have an enormous opportunity to give parents choice and leverage by starting to route some of the enormous amounts of money that we spend on K-12 education directly to families instead of sending it to districts.

Leahy: Here’s a question for you. Why don’t state governments just tell the federal government, you know that 10 percent of education funding that we get from you? Why don’t governments just say hey Biden administration, you can take that 10 percent of that education money and all of your regulations and you can keep them in Washington. We don’t want them. We’re going to run our schools the way we want with state and local money only. Do you see that as a possibility?

Stepman: Well, (Chuckles) what’s the Reagan quote? There’s nothing so permanent as a government program. I would add that I’ve never seen a government agency refuse the money. (Laughter) Unfortunately, I don’t see that as a realistic possibility. Although that would be something to see. I’d certainly like to see it. But fundamentally, what states can do is say hey look at these district schools and how they are taking these grants that are heavily regulated by the feds.

The Biden administration is likely to put out more guidance on, for example, discipline which has had some really negative effects when it was done under the Obama administration. They’re likely to put out a bunch more guidance on various cultural topics from the top. But families can opt-out if the states passed the kind of programs that allow them to do so.

That allows more than just those who are wealthy enough to do that. So obviously families are opting out right now. There are 10 percent of the sector is for private schools (i.e. parents are sending and sacrificing their own money,) which is difficult and it’s a sacrifice for a lot of families who do send their kids to private school because they are paying twice right? They’re paying taxes for the public school and then they’re paying on top of that.

They’re paying tuition to a private school. And there are 2 million homeschoolers. So we already have quite robust alternatives to the public school system, but not every family can take advantage of that for a variety of reasons. Whether that’s financial or whether it’s simply a time issue for with homeschooling or in some cases families just are not set up to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities without the additional financial assistance.

As long as they’re paying double, right? So states have a huge opportunity now, I think. And I think they’re taking advantage of it. We’ve seen well over two dozen viable school choice programs and expansions of school choice programs expanded or bills to expand them offered in state legislature so far in 17 different states. So I think the states are looking at this.

And I think what is really going to determine the future of the education system and not just for this year but I think for the next 10 or 20 years is really going to be how active families are in voicing the fact to their state legislatures that these kinds of school choice programs are not an option. Especially after the experience that we’ve had for the last year that these are a necessity.

And they are a necessity. Not just those for those who want to use them to leave the public school system. Although that’s definitely part of it. They’re necessary for families who want to see stay in the public school system because of that next appointment between the PTA and the Superintendent. Or that next appointment you have with your principal to express dissatisfaction with something about your child’s education is going to go a lot differently if the superintendent, the principal, or the teachers union knows that their salaries are dependent upon your decision about whether or not you’re happy with the education your child gets. So that my friends is called leverage. And that’s what I think American families deserve.

Leahy: Inez Stepman, SEnior Policy on School Choice with the Independent Women’s Forum. Thank you for joining us today. Please come back.

Stepman: Thank you so much for having me.

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.