Jill Simonian of Prager University Talks About Their New PREP Program for Parents and Teachers and Fighting Against Critical Race Theory

Jill Simonian of Prager University Talks About Their New PREP Program for Parents and Teachers and Fighting Against Critical Race Theory

 

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 the Director of Outreach for PragerU Jill Simonian to the newsmakers line to talk about their new PREP curriculum for parents and teachers and critical race theory in public and private schools.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by a native of Fresno, California, and the director of outreach for Prager University. Jill Simonian. Good morning, Jill.

Simonian: Good morning, Michael. I love that you found my Fresno, California roots. I love it!

Leahy: My kid brother lives in a suburb of Fresno right now. He’s a pharmaceutical sales manager for the West Coast for somebody, and he loves it out there.

Simonian: Nice. Anytime someone mentions Fresno, I smile. I live in the Los Angeles area now, so it’s a little bit different. But I’m out here in California.

Leahy: You’re the director of outreach for Prager University, a great gig, and a great organization. Tell us what PragerU’s PREP program is about.

Simonian: PragerU, most of your audience I’m sure is familiar with PragerU and Dennis Prager and the idea of free videos and free minds. We like to promote diversity of discussion. And PragerU has just launched well, I don’t know if I could say just launched anymore because it’s been a few months, but we’ve launched a new program specifically for parents and educators called PREP. PragerU Resources for Educators and Parents.  And it’s a group that is encouraging parents and like-minded teachers to find kindred spirits in uniting to celebrate our American values, hard work, equality under God, responsibility for the individual. All of those American values that we share and we want to celebrate for our children.

Because what’s happening in our schools right now, public and private across the country is a very divisive implementation of critical race theory, gender identities, political narratives, and things that are really inappropriate for school curriculums that are being pushed, and PREP seeks to offset that by offering families, educational and entertaining videos and resources that we can share with our kids. To reinforce our American values and to unite us, that we really are one here in America through our differences. And that’s what PREP is seeking to do.

Leahy: Jill Simonian is the director of outreach for Prager University. We’ve been hearing lots of stories from parents and teachers around the country that critical race theory is permeating K-12 public education. Are you hearing those same stories at PragerU?

Simonian: Yes. Yes. Yes. It’s really disturbing. And I’m smiling, talking with you because I’m thrilled to be able to talk about this and to raise awareness and really open parents’ eyes as well as communicate with teachers who see the danger in doing this to our kids. But it really is disturbing, and it’s not funny at all. And it’s happening in some of the most expensive, elite private schools. I mean, the past few days, we’ve seen articles about the Brearley Schools and Dalton Schools in New York, but also it is permeating into public schools.

And last week, there was another piece yet out here in California from the Santa Clara County Office of Education describing the types of curriculum that they are trying to push into public school classrooms making children, and this is a quote used by the author of the article, Christopher Rufo, making children as young as kindergarten, merchants of revolution, trying to teach them that the group is more important than the individual.

It’s really trying to incite Marxist ideals. It’s really scary. And in our PREP group anyone who donates $25 a year to Prager U, automatically can become a PragerU PREP member. And what that includes is a private Facebook discussion forum. We’re on Facebook right now but we’re moving to an app in the summer. But a private discussion forum that consists of parents and teachers sharing stories from across the country because we always hear about California and New York.

But there are things happening in Middle America and some of the most rural parts where parents are writing into this discussion forum saying, I never really thought that this was going to be in my kid’s classroom. But here was the sign that was posted when I walked in. Here was the survey question that my third-grader was given. Here was the class discussion that my middle school was obligated to take part in, even though it goes against American ideals. And parents are sharing stories with teachers. And our PREP group in just a few months has amassed to 10,000 members.

Leahy: Jill Simonian with Prager University, the author of that article about the parent leaving the Bearley School because they’ve been pushing this critical race theory down the throats and he is in the studio with us Roger Simon, editor at large with The Epoch Times. Roger has a question for you.

Simon: Well, what you’re saying is terrific, and I’m a big admirer, and I’m an old friend of Dennis’s actually when I lived in LA. I fled LA. My condolences to you. You still have to live there. (Simonian chuckles) I think we ordered a find critical race theory for our audience. What it really is is the upending of Dr. Martin Luther King who famously and quite courageously told us we should judge people by their character. Critical race theory says we should judge people by their race.

Simonian: You’re absolutely right. And I’m glad you brought that up because here I am, day in and day out and I’m constantly talking about this, and I assume that people know what critical race theory is. But the reality is is that a lot of people do not know the dangers of it. And you said it exactly and perfectly. Critical race theory in schools teaches children all subjects through a lens of race.

Simon: And everything about them is dependent on race. It is a truly fascistic and reactionary idea that comes out of failed Marxism, where the Marxist originally thought everything was about money essentially. They failed with that and the working class didn’t buy it so they came up with critical race theory in Europe. It came from the Frankfurt School to America.

Leahy: Jill, let me ask you this question, what happens to teachers who raise objections to the teaching of critical race theory either in public K-12 schools or private K-12 schools?

Simonian: The pattern that we’re seeing in our PREP group and then, of course, also with articles that are sprouting up daily is that teachers who express any kind of concern or descent or just simply say hey, I don’t know about this. This seems strange to be teaching a second grader to recognize someone’s difference by the color of their skin. This is wrong. This is neo-segregation.

Any teacher who may bring this up is chastised and possibly punished. Also, I heard some cases of teachers being told by their principals or administrators this is why you’re part of the problem, and this is why we have so much work to do because you don’t understand how important this work is. And that is the most frightening thing of all.

And another note about critical race theory is one would assume that critical race theory is only prominent in history lessons or social settings. No! Critical race theory is prevalent in math now, in science, and things that were dependent on right or wrong answers. Topics that focus on facts, math, and science, are also being taught through a lens of racism, which is so absurd.

In California, there is one school district that said with math, you have to get the right answer. And they said that the pressure for students to obtain a correct answer for a math problem is rooted in fear which is rooted in racism. And if that doesn’t sound the alarm, I don’t know what else does.

Simon: I think Xi Jinping is very pleased to hear that. (Laughter) We’re raising a generation of ignorant people. That’s it.

Leahy: Tell us again now, for parents that are upset with critical race theory, I guess the options are to take their kids out of the school as the Bearley private school father did. Can a child in a K12 public school where they’re teaching this critical race theory actually get a fair education and not be ruined?

Simonian: I don’t know how to answer that question truthfully, because it really is a tough question. I don’t know if they can get a fair education. But what we as parents and teachers can do is to inoculate them to the best of our ability and to continue to speak up in the class with and continue to speak up, write letters, express concern, request one on one meetings with the teachers, administrators, principals, school districts, and school boards. We have to remember in public schools, the schools work for us. Those schools are funded by taxpayers.

Leahy: In theory. Jill Simonian Director of Outreach for Prager University. Thanks so much for joining us. Will you come back?

Simonian: I will come back! Join us at pragerU.com/PREP. We’ve got all new kids’ videos. Check us out. You are going to enjoy them with your families.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rep. Mark White Discusses Critical Race Theory Federal Grants in Tennessee for Public Schools and Why Division in Soceity Does Not Make Things Equal

Rep. Mark White Discusses Critical Race Theory Federal Grants in Tennessee for Public Schools and Why Division in Soceity Does Not Make Things Equal

 

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 Tennessee State Rep. Mark White to the newsmakers line to discuss the implementation of critical race theory in K-12 schools encouraged by grants given to the Tennessee Department of Education by the Biden administration.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newspaper line by our good friend state Representative Mark White from Memphis. Good morning, Representative White.

White: Good morning, Michael. How are you today?

Leahy: Are you up here in Nashville closing out the session?

White: Yes, we’re up here in Nashville. We probably got about two more three and a half, two and a half more weeks ago it looks like.

Leahy: Well, it’s been a busy session before we get to a summary of the session I want to follow up on a conversation I had earlier today with State Senator Jack Johnson. It’s relevant, of course, because you are the chairman of the House Education Administration Committee and a former teacher. There’s a story that we have at The Tennessee Star and I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but let me just read it to you. The proposed Education Department rule would prioritize funding critical race theory grant applications. The Biden administration is wasting no time promoting highly controversial critical race theory, anti-racism concepts into K-12 curriculums nationwide.

They’ve got a proposed rule that would prioritize funding grants to support this kind of curriculum. The proposed rule sites anti-racism Professor Ibram Kendi and The New York Times’s 1619 Project as positive examples of civic education. As the chairman of the Education Administration Committee, when you hear the Biden administration is proposing such grants, what is your reaction?

White: Well, as an opponent of critical race theory I’m a big student of history. One of my majors in college was history. And critical race theory I think this flies in the face of a lot of history. I think it’s divisive in so many things. I’m not supportive. And so we’re looking at ways in Tennessee where we can make this known amongst all 147 districts. And looking at legislation a lot of times is tough when things come down to the federal government, but it’s a concern to Tennesseeans. And we will oppose this at every measure we can.

Leahy: So it’s interesting because we talked about this before the odd spot that state legislatures are being forced into by the 10 percent of K-12 public school funding that comes from the Department of Education nationally at the federal level. They seem to be wanting to force all of these things on state governments. And it seems to me they are usurping the authority of the state legislature in that regard.

White: Well, they are. And, of course, that’s the time we live in right now that we’ve got to deal with a lot of these issues. What we’ve come to in so much in our current society today is that we want to divide, thinking that makes equal and it doesn’t. When you try to redefine history and the hard work that all people of all backgrounds and nationalities have made to make this country great I think that’s divisive. And I heard a story the other day where a second-grader who was exposed to this, and one of our districts came home as the mother am I racist? Doing that to a second grader I just think it’s bad for society, it’s bad for us, school-age children, and especially our younger children.

Leahy: So here’s what’s troubling to me. Representative White, I think that the vast majority of the Tennessee General Assembly does not want this taught in K-12 public schools. Yet, as you just pointed out, I hear anecdotally what you heard that many K-12 and second graders are being exposed to critical race theory right now in public schools. Why is it that public schools are apparently now in Tennessee able to do this? And what kind of legislation is the Tennessee General Assembly contemplating to stop it?

White: Well, that’s why we’re looking at it that way. We already passed legislation that we have Tennessee standards. We need to stay to those Tennessee standards. We have a Textbook Commission that we put in place that works to guard against that. And then we also have a piece of legislation that we’ve gotten a lot of pushback on supplemental materials that we never defined.

You can bring supplemental materials to teach to the standards, but that could be anything. And so we understand why teachers want the flexibility of supplemental materials. But then we have issues like this that we have to deal with. So we’re looking at legislation on how do we control what supplemental materials the teacher brings in. And I know that aggravates a lot of teachers and districts when I say that, but that’s why we are where we are because of a tremendous push from the federal government and other areas where we allow things like this to come into our system.

Leahy: As I read this, this is a rule for grants, and they’re asking for public comment. There will be a lot of public comment opposing it. They will pay no attention to it at the Department of Education and they will start exercising or delivering these grants to K-12 public schools. What is to prohibit any public school in Tennessee from applying for one of these critical race theory grants from the Department of Education and taking the money and implementing it in his curriculum?

White: Well, I think that we as a state have control of a lot of money that our districts get also. And so we can also, by the same token, they won’t take federal money for such things. And we can withhold state money. We can play that game both ways. It’s just sad that we’re at a time in our society where we’ve become so divisive and teaching this basically into our K through third K through six, even K through 12 is in my opinion divisive, and it does not help anything.

Leahy: Well, let me just generally suggest that this would be an area, even in the next few weeks of the session, that perhaps the Tennessee General Assembly should consider the very specific prohibition of school districts in Tennessee from taking these critical rate theory grants and using them in the classroom from the Department of Education. I think that would be something worth considering.

White: Absolutely. And to that point, we closed our education committees in the House out last week. But yesterday, the chairs, vice-chairs, and sub-chairs of the committees and education, there are seven of us, we met to talk about what we need to accomplish this summer and fall while we’re out of session before January of 2022 when we go back in. What are the issues? And this is one of the issues we discussed to put together as we have to legislation dealing with these issues.

Leahy: Well, that’s interesting. So what you’re saying is there may be a possibly not this session, but next session for some more comprehensive legislation to address that. Is that correct?

White: Absolutely. When we’re in session, January through first May this year, we have the issues, and we’ve passed everything we can pass constitutionally while we’re in session. Education committees are closed as of now, but we’re still a lot open for business. We’re in a two-year session, and we will put things in place as needed.

Leahy: What would you say have been the big accomplishments of the Tennessee General Assembly this session so far?

White: Some of the biggest things we did were one reason I was able to get our committees closed as of last week is a special session. What we dealt with the main issues facing education because of the disruption we’ve had for a year and in some ways, continue to have a disruption in education due to the virus is making sure that this summer we put in place summer tutoring programs and summer bridge programs to get our children back to the classroom to catch up and make sure they’re ready to go in August 2021 as we start the school year.

We are very focused on making sure that all our schools are back in person. The virtual has gone on long enough. I’ve talked to too many children, and I even talked to a college student a day. The virtual has its place when you have to use it, but it is not a replacement for a child being back in the classroom with a qualified teacher.

Leahy: I think everybody would agree with that State Representative Mark White.

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