TC Weber Provides Latest Details on Third Grade Retention Law

TC Weber Provides Latest Details on Third Grade Retention Law


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 Tennessee Star education reporter TC Weber in studio to further explain the details of Tennessee’s third-grade retention law.

Leahy: We’re having too much fun.

Weber: We are having a good time this bright and early morning.

Leahy: TC Weber, the man who knows everything about K12 public school education in studio.

Weber: Just ask me.

Leahy: (Laughs) Just ask him! In metro Nashville, the big story has been this third-grade retention bill. And describe, if you would, TC, what the bill that was passed into law last year does.

Weber: It was brought across as part of the special session. And people need to remember that Mark White carried this bill in regular session in 2019. It was part of a bill that he couldn’t get across the finish line, and he tried very hard. And then they had to come back to a special session where nobody wanted to offend Bill Lee at that time.

Leahy: What year?

Weber: 2020 I believe it was. And as part of that was a law called the third-grade retention law, which was already on the bills. It’s been on the bill since 2013, but the decision was left to the locals.

Leahy: Now Mark White.

Weber: The amicable. Mark White.

Leahy: The amicable Mark White.

Weber: Yes.

Leahy: The amicable Mark, the Southern gentleman who’s from Memphis. He is from Memphis and has been a teacher for a long time.

Weber: Yes.

Leahy: Been a guest on this program many time. Not in studio yet, I don’t think. But he’s been on the newsmaker line and we have some mutual friends, and he’s now the chairman of the Education Administration Committee. And I think he also works at Lipscomb in some capacity.

Weber: Yes. And he also sits, which a lot of people don’t know is he sits on the board for that national testing group that everybody says, tells us how bad things are going or how good things are going. He sits on that board, too.

Leahy: So tell us what this law which went into effect this cycle.

Weber: It will go into effect this cycle. And basically, if a child does not test as proficient in literacy, they’ll be retained and will repeat third grade.

Leahy: Retained means you’ve got to repeat the third grade or go to summer school.

Weber: Here’s the caveat that the Republicans, especially in the Senate, are kind of taking offense at, because the law has been misportrayed in their eyes. They have created a number of off-ramps. You can go to summer school, you can get a tutor, or your parents can appeal. There are a lot of ways that a student or their family could have their student avoid being retained.

There’s also a test. You could retake the test, which of course, by Penny Schwinn’s led TDOE, nobody knows what that test looks like or who’s going to create it, or when you would take it.

Leahy: Penny Schwinn is our Commissioner of Education. She’s been seen occasionally in the state over the past couple of years.

Weber: Let’s just say that if you live in another state, your odds are more likely of seeing Penny Schwinn than if you live in Tennessee.

Leahy: I heard her for the first time when she was interviewed at the governor’s address governor’s state of the state address by another radio host from another radio program. Very good reporter. I listened to her and I said, oh my goodness, this is boilerplate baloney rapidly delivered.

Weber: That’s a nicer word than I would use. She’s one of those people and she’s updated her resume as she gets ready to head to the Southwest to talk about all the great things happening in Tennessee. We like to talk about data points except when we’re touting the things that we’ve done and then we celebrate things that we have no data points for. (Leahy laughs)

For example, the literacy work, the high-quality materials, and the teacher pipeline. These are all things that we just put in place today or this year. And she’s touting those as success. Except when test results come out and show that they haven’t been as effective. And then she says, well, we just implemented those. We got to give them time to work.

Leahy: Yes, I mean very frustrating trying to.

Weber: But back to that third-grade retention. A lot of people are expecting changes because all of a sudden people realize that little Johnny or little Susie may not go on to fourth grade. They’re getting all upset and all worked up. In the House, they’re listening, and they’re going to give a bunch of, I think there are 13 different amendments filed from everything.

They’re giving it back to locals, which ain’t going to happen, to using alternate means, to adding means to decide who gets passed and who doesn’t. Which perhaps could happen. They’re going to listen and they’re going to craft some kind of bill. But I think the changes are not going to be what people expect.

I think they’re going to make it more expansive. In talking to Representative Scott Cepicki, he says that they went to third grade maybe too late. So we need to take a look at what we’re doing support-wise and everything else at K through three.

I think when it gets over to the Senate, and House again, I look for the right word. I don’t know if offended is the right word, but they feel those on the Education Committee and a lot of Republican state senators that the bill has been misrepresented and that there’s a lot of hyperbole around it. And they feel like they’ve crafted a thoughtful bill that needs a chance to be implemented and gone through before you start making issues.

Leahy: You and I have talked about this. I think you have said that there are some issues with the test itself.

Weber: Yes, the test itself is, and to his credit Education Committee Chair Jon Lundberg took the test.

Leahy: Yeah, I saw that.

Weber: And he has more sense of what it’s about.

Leahy: I think he concluded it was a fair test.

Weber: He thought it was a fair test. And a lot of people have gotten, I don’t know, up in arms and critical because they said, yeah, he took the test. Surely he’s going to score better than a third-grader.

Leahy: I’m reminded of the Jeff Foxworthy game, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Weber: But we keep looking at the test as if the test is a simple yes or no answer. Like we went, you got seven out of 10. You scored a 70. That’s not how these standardized tests work. You take the test and then there are questions on there that are field test questions so they don’t count.

There are questions that are weighted a little bit more. There are questions to ask. So it goes to this equivocation. And then it’s nationally normed. So who are you going to compare the national norm with a state senator?

Leahy: My question on all this, TC, is there may be quibbles on the test. Is it measuring literacy? Is it measuring the ability to read? But the bottom line is K12 public schools across the country, in Nashville, in Tennessee, are failing to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. That’s the problem to me.

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

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 “TC Weber” by Thomas “TC” Weber for MNPS District 2 School Board.


All-Star Panelist JC Bowman Comments on Tennessee Principals’ Trip to Louisville, Penny Schwinn, and School Security

All-Star Panelist JC Bowman Comments on Tennessee Principals’ Trip to Louisville, Penny Schwinn, and School Security

Live from Music Row, Friday 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 and the CEO of Professional Educators of Tennessee JC Bowman in studio to discuss the $500,000 Tennessee principal trip to Louisville, Kentucky, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, and school safety.

Leahy: We welcome to our microphones right now, our very good friend for many years, the CEO of Professional Educators of Tennessee. This is the alternative to the left-wing teachers’ unions, Mr. JC. Bowman. Good morning, JC.

Bowman: Good morning, Michael! How are you doing today?

Leahy: A little bit cold out there.

Bowman: Well, in Fairbanks, they consider this day at the beach.

Leahy: A day at the beach. We have an important announcement to make. You and I have been friends for many, many years. You’ve been on the program before. On Monday, it will mark six years of The Tennessee Star operating here in the state of Tennessee. It’s a long time.

Bowman: Oh, it’s great, too.

Leahy: And you are one of our first advertisers at the Professional Educators of Tennessee. And we thank you for helping launch us. We’ve been friends for a long time. You’ve been on the program for a long time. Ladies and gentlemen, officially today, Mr. JC. Bowman is an all-star panelist on The Tennessee Star Report.

Bowman: (Cheers) I’m excited! I get access to the coffee pot now.

Leahy: You get access to the coffee pot, and you get our undying gratitude. Our newest all-star panelist is an expert on education. There’s a story that we and our education writer, TC Weber wrote, a great writer and an expert on education in Tennessee, particularly in Metro Nashville.

He had a very interesting story about a boondoggle that Metro Nashville school folks were on. About half a million bucks to send folks up for training in Louisville. Tell us a little bit about that.

Bowman: Yes, a couple of things. First off, let’s talk about TC, for a second. TC is a tremendous writer. You’re right; he has got guts. And he’s been visited by Homeland Security and everybody else for some of the articles he writes. He’s got great courage to write. Interesting guy.

This is the only place you’ll find those stories in The Tennessee Star. They’re taking all the principals, and I think the assistant principals, anybody that is a principal, you’re going to Kentucky to study and talk about public strategy for public education out of the public eye in Kentucky.

Nashville is a destination city. We got buildings everywhere. We’ve got seven universities that would give you space. Why Kentucky? I don’t know. What are we stealing from Kentucky?

Leahy: Boondoggle. (Laughs) I mean, come on.

Bowman: Think about what half a million dollars could go for in our schools just for kids and academics. And listen, this is what got them in trouble under Sean Joseph’s regime. And again, Weber called that out. And that’s what I think is amazing about it. Nobody else covered that story, and it’s well known they put it out that they’re doing it, and they have no shame.

If it was some like, magic bullet, you could go up there. One of the things I think we got to really look at, Michael, is the whole travel regime for everywhere we go. It’s like we go to vacations. We’re out to a conference. And if COVID taught us anything, you could do it online.

Why do we have to go on all these trips with state officials on down? Every once in a while, I understand it. I get it. I traveled in Florida for some of the things, but I hated to travel. It wasn’t something I looked forward to. But they planned these trips out. We need to really take a hard look.

Leahy: Speaking of education travel, we have a milk carton here, and it has a picture on it. A missing person. Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. Has anybody seen her?

Bowman: Yes. She’s come back. I got in trouble for that, by the way. They called me out on that one. And they said, make sure we say something good about her. They let me know that she had some health issues, and that’s why she was out.

But of course, I think that she continued to travel places. So I think that’s the thing. I did see she made the rounds at the Capitol up there, and I did run into her at the Capitol, so I’ll give her that much.

Leahy: But her leadership is dreadful, and she’s not enforcing the anti-CRT bill that’s out there. The challenges that were made in Williamson County, she’s doing nothing with it.

Bowman: We don’t enforce any laws. The funny thing, Michael, is that we have to write new laws. We were working on teacher assault last year. It’s one of my pet projects. And as I started digging into the law, it was already on the books in three different places. We just don’t enforce the laws that are already on the books.

Leahy: Did Penny Schwinn say something nice about me, or did her staff ask you to say something nice about me?

Bowman: I was talking to one of her staff members. Yes. Absolutely. Not to say something nice, but mention the department. And I have been very polite and very kind. I do like, Grow Your Own Program. That’s a good program. I’ve said this before. It is not the be all, end all of everything. It’s a nice thing in the gun.

Leahy: We’ve invited Penny Schwinn to come on the program and to defend her record. She’s not shown up.

Bowman: No, and she won’t.

Leahy: Why not? How can we say nice things about her if she doesn’t show up? (Laughs) 

Bowman: Well, that’s the thing.

Leahy: There’s nothing nice to say about her, in my view.

Bowman: Well, Governor Lee doesn’t show up.

Leahy: Who? Who? (Laughs) We’ve invited him. He’s been governor. He was elected in 2018.

Bowman: But he’s preparing for State of the State.

Leahy: That’s coming up.

Bowman: I do know a little bit, I think, because I do work on that a little bit. One of the things I’m really pushing and advocating for is school security. And I’m like; we have to protect kids. We have to protect teachers. And so I’m trying to make sure that they do that, but I know that they’re going to address it somewhere. I think school security is an issue.

Leahy: Yes, it definitely is an issue.

Bowman: They didn’t fund SROs. That’s part of the problem.

Leahy: Tell our audience what an SRO is.

Bowman: You got two groups of people got SROs, School Resource Officers, which fall under the purview and the authority and are following law enforcement. They are officers on school grounds. And you have this thing called SSOs, which, I’m just being honest…

Leahy: What is an SSO?

Bowman: That is a School Safety Officer that is the equivalent of a mall cop. And so they are run by the school, and they answer to the director of schools. And so there’s a real difference between the two. I want my school to be represented by an SRO so if there’s an incident; law enforcement can handle it right there.

Leahy: Have you noticed the recent reports about the performance of schools at the third-grade level? And now there’s this big bill about the retention bill that passed last year and is scheduled to go into effect this year. A lot of teachers are complaining about the bill. As I understand it, you have this TN Ready test that third graders take.

And unless you show you’re proficient in reading and writing primarily, you will be either held back for a year or have to go to summer school. I’ve seen reports that as many as two-thirds of students here in Tennessee are not proficient at their third-grade level. How is this going to play out?

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

– – –

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 “J. C. Bowman” by J. C. Bowman. Photo “Penny Schwinn” by Tennessee Board of Regents. Background Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.


State Representative Bud Hulsey Discusses His New K-12 Education Bill

State Representative Bud Hulsey Discusses His New K-12 Education Bill

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 State Representative Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) to the newsmaker line to detail his new bill that would require parents to opt their children into surveys and curriculum.

Leahy: This morning on the newsmaker line, State Representative Bud Hulsey from Kingsport is here to join us to talk about his new K-12 education bill. Good morning, Representative Hulsey.

Hulsey: Good morning, Michael. Glad to be with you.

Leahy: Is this the first time you’ve been on our program, Representative Hulsey?

Hulsey: Yes, sir, I’ve been on your paper before, but this is the first time I’ve been on your program.

Leahy: We are delighted. You’re here in town for the Tennessee General Assembly in session.

Hulsey: Yes, sir.

Leahy: You’re a long way from Kingsport. That’s quite a drive, isn’t it?

Hulsey: (Chuckles) It takes me four hours and 15 minutes to get down here.

Leahy: You know exactly how long it takes, don’t you?

Swain: You must be speeding. I’ve done that ride, and took me five hours.

Leahy: He knows the shortcuts, Carol.

Hulsey: Yes, that’s it.

Leahy: That’s it. That’s the ticket. Let’s talk about this bill. Let me outline the bill which both Carol and I have looked at this and it sounds like a really good idea. Let me describe it and then let’s get your description. It’s for local education agencies, basically, it’s a county school district.

In Tennessee, there are 147 local education agencies, 95 counties, and about 50 other local education agencies, some state cities, et cetera. But your bill, HB 0727, would require a student or parent or legal guardian to provide written, informed, and voluntarily signed consent to the student’s local education agency.

Typically the county school system, before the student, may receive instruction through the local education agency’s family life curriculum, participate in the survey, analysis, or evaluation, or receive health services provided through a coordinated school health program.

This sounds like a good idea. Tell us about your motivation in putting this together and how you see this winding its way through the Tennessee House of Representatives this session.

Hulsey: Thank you, Michael. As most state representatives down here, you have some ideas of your own and some things that you’re passionate about your own bills on, then a lot of bills you run because groups of people come to you and say, this is a problem and here’s our solution to it. Will you help us fix it?

And that’s how this bill actually came about from a group called Free Tennessee. And what it does is right now, if you have a student at school, most schools in this state, and there’s a curriculum that a lot of times is really controversial depending on whose worldview is teaching it.

But generally, they surround health issues and those kinds of things. And right now, if you don’t want your kid going to those classes, you have to opt out of it and make sure you fill out the forms to opt your kid out of it.

What this bill does is it turns it around and says that if you want your kid to participate in those programs, you have to opt into it. Otherwise, your kid doesn’t take it. And the reason that that’s kind of important is a lot of these issues, I’ve got in front of me some of the forms from Metro Nashville Public Schools, and there are several of them.

Just like one is called the School Climate Survey, where they survey your kid, and they talk to your kid, and they deal with and teach some of these things to improve school climate, culture, and those kinds of things.

Another one is called the Metro Public Health Department Youth Risk Behavior Survey. And another one is health screening, which includes COVID-19 testing. And another one is called Universal Behavior.

And then there’s a wrap-around service where somebody contacts your kid throughout the year. It could be phoned or in-person talking to them. And then there’s family life and sexual health education.

Leahy: We’re getting into territory there with what’s going on right now where you can see these school districts are trying to influence your children on really important topics without your knowledge or consent. Carol Swain looks like she wants to ask you a question.

Swain: I would just like to commend you on the legislation. I think it’s brilliant, and it is necessary because there is a very open agenda to indoctrinate our children. They don’t hide their aims and intents, and some parents are so busy, they are totally unaware of what has taken place.

Hulsey: That’s the problem. When your kid comes home with a packet of information, a lot of times, it doesn’t even make it to the house. And the burden is on you to go through all that and decide whether you want your kid to take this class or not.

Some of these deal, in fact, it lists right here self-esteem, healthy relationships, gender identity, and sexual orientation. And as you said, a lot of times, somebody’s worldview teaching that to your children is not your worldview.

But the burden is on you to opt your kid out. And what this bill says is, no, we want to shift the burden over to opting in. If you want your kid to take those classes, you have to opt-in. Otherwise, your kid doesn’t take them.

Swain: What’s happened that’s different with education is that we have activists that have gone into teaching, and many of the interactions between the children and the teachers, it’s scripted by the National Education Association or some curriculum that is designed just to indoctrinate.

Hulsey: That’s exactly correct. This way it’s actually more transparent. If you want your kid to take those things taught by who’s teaching it, then you’ve got to opt into it.

Leahy: Let’s ask you this question. Do you have a sponsor in the State Senate who will be introducing this bill?

Hulsey: Yes. If you hold on.

Leahy: We believe you. That’s important that you got a sponsor. Sometimes they put these out. They don’t have to be introduced into the state Senate, I think, until February 15th.

The good news is it will be in the state senate as well. What do you think the path is going to be for this bill in the Tennessee General Assembly? Let’s start with the House of Representatives this session.

Hulsey: The first committee it’s going to come up in front of is going to be the education subcommittee, and I’m assuming that. That seems to be the general path, and if it makes it out of that, of course, it’ll go to the education-full. Now, there might be another committee. It might be double referred, I’m not sure, but I’m pretty positive that will be the first committee it hits.

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

– – –

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.
















Williamson County Parent Discusses Parents Choice of Tennessee’s Wit and Wisdom Curriculum Lawsuit

Williamson County Parent Discusses Parents Choice of Tennessee’s Wit and Wisdom Curriculum Lawsuit

Live from Music Row, Friday 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 Williamson County parent, Trisha Lucente with Parents Choice of Tennessee in studio to explain the basis of its 200-page lawsuit citing continued illegal teaching of Wit and Wisdom in K-12 public schools.

Leahy: In studio Trisha Lucente with Parents Choice of Tennessee. Tricia, you’ve got a lawsuit on the Wit and Wisdom curriculum in Williamson County. Tell us about that.

Lucente: Thanks so much for having me. So I started Parents Choice Tennessee, and we are suing Williamson County School Board. Penny Schwinn, our commissioner of education, and two administrators here in Williamson County over the curriculum Wit and Wisdom. As you said, they are teaching all the prohibited concepts that are against the law in Tennessee.

Leahy: This is the law that was passed in May last year, 14 prohibited concepts. They’re still teaching them?

Lucente: Absolutely. They sure are. I have a 200-page lawsuit that is telling us that they’re teaching it.

Leahy: Okay, so when and where did you file the lawsuit? What’s its status?

Lucente: We filed it in July, and Larry Crain in Brentwood is our lawyer, and it is they filed a motion to dismiss on Thursday of next week, November 10. We have a hearing for them to hear the motion to dismiss and for us to move on past that.

Leahy: It’s in Williamson County Chancery Court?

Lucente: It is.

Leahy: What’s the argument that they want to dismiss this case?

Lucente: Oh, they’re going after our standing. So they’re trying to say that we don’t have standing to sue.

Leahy: So standing meaning you haven’t been aggrieved or hurt by it.

Lucente: Correct.

Leahy: But this is parents.

Lucente: Yes.

Leahy: Do the parents who are in the lawsuit have children who are attending Williamson County schools?

Lucente: Yes, there are three families, including my family. And then there is Parents Choice as its entity, as the organization. And we’re representing all of our members. So all the parents that are members of Parents Choice.

Leahy: So this whole standing thing is just a dodge of the main issue, isn’t it?

Lucente: Of course. Always. It is their first move.

Leahy: What do you think the chances are that the judge will dismiss the case on standing?

Lucente: I think that we have a really great case against standing. And I do think that there is another law also that our attorneys are leaning on that says that any citizen can sue a government entity whether or not they have damage.

And that’s part of something that we are leaning into our standing. But we’re parents trying to say, you can’t teach this to our children, and there should be a whole lot of parent turnout, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Leahy: The issue of standing has always bothered me because it seems like if the left wants to dismiss a case, they’ll say, you don’t have standing.

But I don’t understand why parents wouldn’t have standing. If this is a bad curriculum, violating state law, as you are arguing, I can’t understand why that would be the case.

Lucente: And they also are arguing, I think, that it’s a political issue and we’re trying to make a political point.

Leahy: There’s a law that prohibits the teaching of 14 concepts. And you’re saying they’re teaching most of them?

Lucente: Oh, they are. They’re teaching them, then they’re teaching it. So wit and wisdom is a curriculum that is based on the framework of social-emotional learning.

Leahy: Which is basically critical race theory by another name.

Lucente: It is. What I like to say is social-emotional learning is a train track. Then CRT and critical theory are the train. And then gender ideology is the train, and then feminism is the train. And on and on. You can usher anything into a child’s mind once you’ve infiltrated their emotions.

Leahy: Well, that’s what they’re trying to do. Now, is anybody else Joining your lawsuit here? I mean, what about the legislators who passed the law? What do they have to say about that?

Lucente: I’ve spoken to many of them, and they support a lawsuit. Of course, they don’t support it publicly because I don’t think that they can or won’t or whatnot. But I’ve spoken to many of them, and the conversation goes like this, let me tell you what’s wrong with your law and all the things that you need to change and why we’re suing.

And then I proceed to tell them all the amendments that I think they need to make in order to hopefully make the law more enforceable because right now It’s very difficult to enforce that law.

Leahy: Isn’t the first arbiter of the commissioner of education Penny Schwinn?

Lucente: That’s correct. And she chose this curriculum. She issued waivers this curriculum fails to meet state standards and did not pass for K12, so it doesn’t teach any of the fundamentals reading to our kindergarteners and second graders. And she issued waivers to 33 counties in Tennessee.

Leahy: Including Williamson.

Lucente: Including Williamson and Davidson. And so she issued these waivers. And why would somebody who went out of her way to make sure 33 counties could use this curriculum say that this curriculum is breaking the law?

Leahy: So you would change the law. How would you change the law?

Lucente: I would absolutely take her out of that. It should at least go to a body of a vote or something before any complaint is reviewed.

Leahy: Would you volunteer to be on that committee?

Lucente: Of course, I would. (Leahy chuckles)

Leahy: I’d be available to be on that committee. (Laughs)

Lucente: You would be great on that committee. It’s not fair. And I would say this. I would also give the schools a chance and a grace period when that law went into effect where they could pull the materials, and I would have the state be willing to help reimburse them for the money to replace materials that are breaking the law. And I think that would have given them a little bit more fidelity on the front end.

Leahy: Do they argue that the Wit and Wisdom curriculum does not violate the state law that prohibits the teaching of 14, in essence, concepts of critical race theory?

Lucente: Several school board members do. Several don’t say anything at all. But there are some that come right out and say, we are not teaching CRT. There’s nothing wrong with this curriculum. Parents and teachers love it. And that’s it.

Leahy: Have you talked to Carol Swain about this?

Lucente: I have. Carol Swain actually used some of our lawsuits.

Leahy: In her training curriculum.

Lucente: Yes. In her training curriculum. And Larry Crain, our attorney, is somebody that helped work with her on pieces of that training, too.

Leahy: But it sounds like the Williamson County Schools and Commissioner Schwinn want to violate the law. This is what it sounds like to me. They want to violate the law, and they are pretending that the Wit and Wisdom curriculum is not violating the law.

Lucente: Absolutely. So in 2020, Penny Schwinn sat in front of our Senate Education Committee, and Senator Bell was asking her several questions about the waivers, specifically when parents were raising questions and calling their representatives.

So he asked her a few things about its failure, and she said that the content of the material is more important than its ability to meet the standards.

Leahy: Interesting. So, you’ll know next week?

Lucente: We will we’ll know on Thursday next week when we pass the motion to dismiss. And we have a very great long list of discovery questions that we’re ready to go for.

Leahy: How do people support Parents Choice Tennessee?

Lucente: You can go to And you can donate there. You can also find links to all of our social channels, and you can follow us and follow the status. We share everything about the curriculum, and you can donate


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

– – –

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 “Williamson County Schools” by Williamson County Schools.

All-Star Panelist Roger Simon: ‘I Don’t Think Money Has Much to Do with Education at All’

All-Star Panelist Roger Simon: ‘I Don’t Think Money Has Much to Do with Education at All’


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 Senior Editor-At-Large at The Epoch Times Roger Simon in studio weighed in on the indoctrination of children through Critical Race Theory implemented in Williamson County public schools and the need to cut federal funding.

Leahy: I am in studio with the newest all-star panelist and good friend Roger Simon. My former boss at PJTV, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, a refugee from Los Angeles, California, and Editor-At-Large for The Epoch Times.

Roger, you’ve been following Williamson County and the Critical Race Theory curriculum that’s been apparently involved and taught in the schools. Mom’s For Liberty, a Williamson County group that, you know well, has documented that.

A big meeting last week. They invited school board members, and they invited Jason Golden, the director of schools. He didn’t attend that meeting.

Simon: Well, you know what I call Jason Goldman? The Fauci of Williamson County.

Leahy: Jason Goldman, the pouchy of Williamson County. Oh, that is so cruel to Fauci. (Laughter) That’s pretty good. Now, why do you call Jason Golden the director of Williamson County schools the Fauci of Williamson County?

Simon: Because he’s interested only in himself and not in the children.

Leahy: He’s interested only in himself and not the children.

Simon: Also, he gets a prohibitive salary, very similar to Anthony Fauci, who is the highest-paid member of our federal government.

Leahy: The highest-paid member of our federal government. The only other thing is that if you listen to Jason Golden, you get the impression that they’re not teaching Critical Race Theory at all. You get the impression they’re not teaching Critical Race Theory, Roger Simon.

Simon: Well, and when you’re teaching four-year-olds the essence of Critical Race Theory, which is that the color of your skin is the most important thing about you, you’re just doing a bad thing. Critical Race Theory is a fancy word for that. Who cares?

Leahy: Yeah, exactly.

Simon: The whole system is racialized to such a degree that all these children don’t even know who they really are or what’s going on. It’s terrible. Basically, there’s a simpler word for the whole thing, and it’s called child abuse.

Leahy: That’s what we got going on. Jason Golden, we had this guy before him named Mike Looney. Looney was aptly named. He’s gone. He introduced the training back in 2019. We did a big story of White privilege that was being taught to teachers there. We exposed that. Look at how fast this has moved.

Simon: The reason we talk about Williamson County, of course, it’s local here. And I’m sure Williamson County can hear what we’re saying now. But it’s a national problem. And Williamson County is an interesting example of what’s happening because it’s a Republican County where theoretically, this kind of thing should not happen at all.

Secondly, it’s a county famous for its educational system which has been growing by leaps and bounds because of the educational system. And people who can afford it are moving there.

Leahy: (Laughs) Exactly.

Simon: And little do they know, they’re moving there to get their kids indoctrinated. It’s an incredibly crazy situation, but it’s national, too.

Leahy: You said something very important there. People are moving to Williamson County to get their kids indoctrinated to hate America in the public schools.

Simon: They don’t realize it.

Leahy: The key point, isn’t it?

Simon: They think they’re moving to Mayberry.

Leahy: They’re not.

Simon: Obviously not. They’re not. Look, I was in Franklin the other day having dinner, and I live in Green Hills, but I’m up in Franklin all the time. I was up there having dinner and you drive around Franklin, it is Mayberry. It’s like one of the most attractive towns in the United States.

Leahy: Franklin, Tennessee, is a spectacular city. I mean, it’s just a great place. Downtown Main Street, love it!

Simon: It’s right out of some Norman Rockwell meets modern times.

Leahy: A Norman Rockwell meets Modern Times movie. By the way, I’m delighted you mentioned Norman Rockwell. I love his paintings. In fact, I got for a Father’s Day a couple of years ago the Four Freedoms.

Of course one of them, freedom from want, is eh, that was an FDR thing. You may know this. I interviewed his son once and said Norman Rockwell, he thought was probably not that political, but was a sort of a John F. Kennedy type liberal way back when.

Simon: Makes sense.

Leahy: Makes sense doesn’t it?

Simon: Yes, totally. But he was an absolutely great artist.

Leahy: Oh, spectacular.

Simon: When I was younger, I used to think he was corny, but actually, he’s not.

Leahy: This is because you were a sophisticated guy from Manhattan. I was a chump from upstate New York. I was a yahoo from Upstate New York, so I always liked him. (Laughs)

Simon: Listen, give me credit. I got there. But back to Franklin itself. Franklin is a great town, and people really want to live there and it’s coveted because of this educational system. It’s the worst kind of bait and switch.

You’re being sold a junker and something’s got to be done and something needs to be done across the country. But the great thing is something is being done because this Mom’s for Liberty, which is a national group is not just local.

Leahy: Mom’s for Liberty is a national group and it’s a Williamson County chapter.

Simon: Exactly. It is a great movement because it wakes people up. It’s easy to go about your job and your kids going to a good school and you don’t know what is happening. It’s been happening for 50 years.

Leahy: Or even longer. John Dewey. It all started with John Dewey and Columbia University. He basically wanted to turn American kids into robotic lovers of the great state.

Simon: Yes. Trotski-ites.

Leahy: Unfortunately, now that’s kind of the system that K-12 public education is today.

Simon: Yes. Unraveling it is not going to be simple. One of the reasons it’s not going to be simple is there’s no curriculum left that’s any good. My wife has been involved with this.

You can protest these curriculums that they foist on six-year-olds but then you’ve got to have something to give the teachers instead.

But they don’t have anything left anymore. We’re in bad shape, and we got to wake up because we’re making it really easy for Xi Jin Ping.

Leahy: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’d like to get your reaction to my idea. And I’ve talked to members of the Tennessee General Assembly about this and surprisingly they have become increasingly open to it.

Simon: Great.

Leahy: Part of the problem, Roger, in my view, is that 10 percent of K-12 public education is funded by the federal government.

Simon: That’s a big problem.

Leahy: 40 percent local, 40 percent state. Well, what the feds do is say, we’ll give you this money, but you got to do X, Y and Z. And you see what X, Y, and Z is. What they’re now trying to dis through the Biden administration is promote the teaching of Critical Race Theory. That’s what they’re trying to do. Here’s my idea. Are you ready?

Simon: Cut federal funds.

Leahy: The Tennessee General Assembly should send a very polite note to Joe Biden. Dear Mr. President, you can take that 10 percent and put it somewhere else. I’ve got another way to describe it, but put it somewhere else is a polite way to start.

Simon: I agree. You’re going back to Joy Behar. (Laughter)

Leahy: That is very funny Roger. Here is the thing about all of this. We are going to have to really work with the Tennessee General Assembly. I think the majority of them agree with us intellectually.

There’s pressure from the school districts and the teachers’ unions to keep taking that federal money because nobody turns down money. This is money with such bad strings that it’s leading to the propagandizing of our kids and it’s utterly destructive.

Simon: I couldn’t agree more.

Leahy: Are you with me on that?

Simon: 100 percent. And I’ll add to it. The add to it is, I don’t think money has much to do with education at all.

Leahy: You are exactly right.

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.