The Epoch Times Senior Editor Roger Simon Discusses His Latest Piece and Urges Citizens to Run for Local School Boards

The Epoch Times Senior Editor Roger Simon Discusses His Latest Piece and Urges Citizens to Run for Local School Boards

 

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 all-star panelist and senior editor-at-large at The Epoch Times, Roger Simon, in-studio to speak about his latest piece addressing the need for citizens to take back America by running for their school board.

Leahy: We are joined in the studio by our very good friend, my former boss at PJTV.  Also Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and now a senior editor-at-large for The Epoch Times, Roger Simon. Roger, good morning.

Simon: This is a good morning because the coffee is good here. (Giggles)

Leahy: I made it, especially for you.

Simon: Because I complained.

Leahy: You must start the day off with good coffee. And as our listeners are there getting up, most of them are brewing their coffee right now. And they’re starting to pour it. And so, like us, we are enjoying coffee as we have our morning discussions.

Simon: I was just going to say one thing about coffee. Woody Allen said life is 90 percent about showing up. Actually, it’s not even said about a coffee.

Leahy: Coffee helps you show up and get the day started.

Simon: You have a terrific commentary at The Epoch Times. Theepochtimes.com. I’d like you to talk about it. I think this is the central point of what’s happening in America today. You write, to save America, run for school board.

Simon: Yes. I don’t think there’s anything more important John Q or Jane Q citizen can do other than run for school board at this point in the history of the United States. Ironically, as I say in the piece, it’s more important than running for Senate or Congress or any highfaluting job you can think of it. It’s the grassroots of the grassroots.

What’s interesting about it is that one of the commenters on my piece already – and it only went up at 11 o’clock last night, but it’s really getting a lot of traction – it reminded us that Lenin said to give him four years of educating any young person and he would have them for life.

Leahy: And I think those four years kind of go up to fourth grade. By fourth grade, they’re 90 percent formed, I think.

Simon: I think you’re right.

Leahy: Of course, we have actually some educators out there who may comment on that note. Just as an aside tonight, Roger, I’ll invite you to join me at this event. It is an open house for Thales Academy in Franklin at 6 pm.

If you come, you might want to write about it at The Epoch Times. This is a fabulous private school. It’s a chain now of eight.

Simon: People have been telling me about that for a couple of years, and I am anxious to see it.

Leahy: They use direct instruction as the most effective way to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Since it’s most effective, the teachers’ unions hate it. But it’s very effective.

And they have a classical education based on the values of Western civilization. They learn about American values and it’s a great place. The tuition cost is just a little over $5,000 a year.

Simon: That’s pretty good.

Leahy: That’s really good. Tonight on Carothers Parkway in Franklin.

Simon: This is all about running for the school board. And I learned a few things from my colleague and from my wife but also from my colleague Trevor Lauden at The Epoch Times who’s been studying this.

If you’re going to run for school board, which is a very important thing to do considering what’s happened with schools, where they’re teaching Critical Race Theory and all the rest of the absolute Marxist lies to your children, you should do two things: Do not run by yourself and try to run with four or five other people.

Leahy: A slate. It’s easier to organize campaigns that way. If you’re running by yourself, the opposition, basically a bunch of lefty groups, particularly here in Williamson County for years, have been doing this.

That’s why of the 12 members of the Williamson County School Board, about 10 are lefties and two are just struggling to deal with all that pressure from the left.

Simon: As we have heard, and there’s been a lot of research on this, that people get slanted very easily in campaigns when they’re by themselves because in the last three days they publicize, you know, when did you stop beating your wife or one of those kinds of things.

Leahy: And you got a parking ticket you didn’t pay 20 years ago. You are a scofflaw.

Simon: One of those things. You have no time to reply and you have no allies in making it good. So do it as a group. And I’ll tell the second thing.

Leahy: Alright, we’ll hold off till after the break.

(Commercial break)

Leahy: A great piece to Save America, Run for School Board. Now you were giving advice to people running for school board. I think Trevor Loudon is a guy who suggested this. Number one, run as a slate with others. Great advice.

Simon: That one came from my wife. But the second one comes from Trevor. And it’s true. And that is not just criticize, which we have to do and highlight Critical Race Theory and the rest of the nonsense that’s being inculcated in children.

But also come up with and have a program that you want to replace it with. A specific one. Thales Academy is one good example. The place that leads the country in all this is Hillsdale College. And if you go online, you can see their K-12 programs.

You don’t need to run with super details of this. Four or five bullet points are plenty for everybody to digest. But you’ve got to have something when you run for all or the people to say, oh, what are you going to do? Well, this is what we’re going to do.

Leahy: Implement this curriculum. Classic education curriculum, a pro-American history. Honest pro-American history.

Simon: And not this nonsense like two plus two don’t equal four because they’re racist or the other extreme stuff that’s being thrown out there right now.

Leahy: I don’t know if anybody’s ever told you this, Roger, but you are a very good writer. I’m just going to read two paragraphs from your piece. You’d be saving America from turning into the bleakest socialist Communist state imaginable, because that is what our current educational system, K-12 is designed to do.

And sadly, has been successful in doing literally for decades. And it’s only getting worse. You would in the process also be a true revolutionary in the tradition of the founders of our country in bringing back truth, justice, and the American way to our children and our children’s children.

Simon: That is rather good.

Leahy: No, it is great. It’s a lyrical salute to America.

Simon: Well, thank you. It took me a while to get there having had a left-wing path.

Leahy: (Laughs) But everybody has a left-wing path. You know, the famous quote from Churchill. “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you don’t have a heart. And if you’re not a conservative when you’re 40, you don’t have a brain.”

Simon: Right.

Leahy: Except the problem is a lot of people kind of get stuck in that liberal stance because as we’re talking about the schools.

The John Dewey approach to schooling is a propaganda approach, and we have a generation of children who have come through schools where they aren’t taught to think independently, but rather to kind of anticipate the answer the teacher is looking for.

Simon: That answer is so dull and socialistic. And it’s quite sad what’s happened, because of the self-replicating system. The people who become teachers have been taught that, too, for years and years and years. So what we need is you, John Q citizen, to get out there and run for school board.

Leahy: And yet, Roger, you know, just thinking about this independently right now, I will say for those in our listening audience who are saying, yeah, I’ll run for school board. Then they think about it a little bit. It is a daunting task, given the current structure.

Let’s think about Metro Nashville Public Schools. Right now there are nine members of the school board. Eight of them are lunatic, left-wing ideologues. And one friend, Fran Bush, actually has a brain and is an intelligent person and has common sense. But it’s very difficult. She’s been our guest here in-studio many a time.

And when you look at the kind of groupthink conformity, left-wing ideology promoted by the school board director and their focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. And then, headline at The Tennessee Star this morning: Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Calls for Board to Issue New Mask Mandate.

Simon: Here’s the irony in the whole thing. The United States spends more money on public education per capita than almost any country in the world. I believe Switzerland was once more. It varies, but we’re pretty close to the top and we’re getting terrible results. Think about that.

What a war on black people that is. Teaching equity and inclusion and all the rest of these buzzwords that are nothing but political power or fraud is an insult to the very people they’re trying to help.

They are the people who get screwed. Any Democrat out there should be ashamed of themselves. I used to be a Democrat, and I’m saying that. I mean, grow a brain.

Leahy: The problem is so they don’t think, they don’t analyze data, they just drop into almost a zealous religious approach.

Simon: Totally religious.

Leahy: It’s the religion of the left of totalitarianism, and it’s extraordinarily dangerous. We talked about this. The Judeo-Christian principles of Western civilization, that really is the building block of our American constitutional republic.

Simon: Of course it is. But sometimes they’re hard to follow. It’s easier to follow the leaders of the left who are going against that on every level. But you can save the country and yourselves by waking up to this. And I’m talking to liberals like I was. Some of them might be listening to this show.

Leahy: Our friend Karl, to whom I lost a bet because he bet that Joe Biden would be inaugurated. And I bet that it would be Trump. And I lost that bet. Took him out and had a steak dinner with him, bought it at Rafferty’s. Karl’s a great guy.

He got his start as a waiter at Rafferty’s and now has his own business, basically hauling junk and trash away from folks and very successful. But still, he’s got a certain worldview that’s different from ours. But he listens and we’re delighted he does.

Simon: Hello Karl. (Leahy laughs) We’ve never met.

Leahy: He is a nice guy.

Simon: But getting people to change their politics is very hard because most people have a whole network of reasons that they can’t change and that they won’t face or look at including work, including family, including friends. And it goes on and on.

And I’ve seen that all over the place. And I think most of us have. And right now we’re in a very bad place in our country because a lot of us are hating each other for reasons that have nothing to do with reality and have everything to do with being manipulated.

Leahy: But that’s an intentional effort at dividing the country, don’t you think?

Simon: Absolutely.

Leahy: This is what the Democratic leadership and I’ll go on, George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Chinese Communist Party, to me, all seem to be aligned in promoting American division.

Simon: Oh, absolutely. And they’re doing a good job, unfortunately. So it’s up to us. And that’s why back to the school board. That’s one of the places that any reasonably educated person can get in there and try to stop it.

When you were talking about how skewed the Metro school board is here, eight to one, and so forth, don’t let that stop you. Go, as I mentioned earlier, get three or four or five friends to run with you.

Leahy: As a slate.

Simon: As a slate. Don’t do it by yourself. Then you’re just running into a wall and it’s silly. But everybody’s got a few friends who are like-minded and do it together. First of all, you’ll help each other.

Secondly, you get more money that way from supporters. And that’s what you can do. And if we do that all over the country, the country is going to change.

Leahy: That’s a very good point. I think it’s an organizational challenge to a degree. Because it does have some similarities, I think, to the Tea Party movement…

Simon: It does.

Leahy: Way back when in 2008, 2009. You and I were involved.

Simon: You more than I.

Leahy: But it was putting people together and focusing them on a common goal. So we’ll see how it all plays out. Very insightful, Roger

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 “Board Meeting” by KOMUnews (CC BY 2.0).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennessee State Senator Jack Johnson on the Structure and Importance of Your Local School Board

Tennessee State Senator Jack Johnson on the Structure and Importance of Your Local School Board

 

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to discuss the structure of state education policy, local school boards, and the importance of their elections.

Leahy: On our newsmaker line we welcome back State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Jack, thanks for your patience. If you would indulge me. Jack, I just have to read this breaking story.

I’m not asking you to comment on this breaking story. We’ll get back to education in just a minute. I just have to read this because it’s funny. (Laughs) Are you ready for this Jack?

Johnson: I’m ready.

Leahy: This statement by Donald J. Trump just came out, like a minute ago. I’ll just read it. You don’t have to comment on it, but I find it very amusing. Just like in the 2020 presidential elections, it was announced overnight in New York City that vast, irregularities and mistakes were made in that Eric Adams, despite an almost insurmountable lead, may not win the race.

The fact is, based on what has happened, nobody will ever know who really won. The presidential race was a scam and a hoax, with numbers and results being found that are massive, shocking, and determinative.

Watch the mess you’re about to see in New York City. It will go on forever. They should close the books and do it all over again the old-fashioned way when we had results that were accurate and meaningful. Jack, thanks for letting me get that statement out. I’m not going to ask you for a comment. (Laughter) Isn’t that amusing?

Johnson: I would like to make one statement. And that’s why in Tennessee we don’t have universal mail-in voting. But we have a very strict system. You can vote absentee, but you must request the ballot with the signature.

That signature is verified, and you must do it and have a reason for voting absentee. And I believe that the root of many of the problems in last November’s elections, and I do think it’s very ironic, I believe, is a word you used earlier in the program that New York (Laughter) and what is going on is because of their massive mail-out voting.

It’s problematic. We’re not going to do that in Tennessee I can assure you.

Leahy: All I have to say to that Jack is, Amen brother. And thank goodness for the Tennessee General Assembly and for Secretary of State Tre Hargett, because we don’t have those kinds of problems here in Tennessee.

So a good point. Thanks for that comment. It’s just so funny.  I just had to bring it up. (Chuckles) Now, Jack, we’re talking a little bit about education and it seems to me that we have at 145 separate school districts in the state, and they all have boards of education and people run for it.

And here’s what I’ve noticed. I liked to get your comment on this, and these are probably groups that you deal with, but I have a perspective that maybe they’re not doing such a hot job. So what happens is people will run for the board.

They’ll have an agenda that’s more traditional education. They get elected to the board, and then they go off to training with the group called the Tennessee School Boards Association.

And somehow they get the impression from that training, this is how I see it, that their job is not to run the schools, but to do whatever the school Superintendent does. I think that’s wrong. Am I off on that, or is there something there to it?

Johnson: No, you’re exactly right in terms of the way it should operate. The way that the system is designed. And it is it’s a little bit complex. But I think on paper, it’s a good system, which is that you have the state, you have the General Assembly, people that are elected like myself, to serve in the General Assembly.

We set broad education policy for the state in terms of standards and the way schools should operate, so that we have a degree of consistency across the state. And then we have created political subdivisions, that is what they’re legally referred to as, in the form of a school board school.

We call them local education agencies, LEAs, or local education authorities. Sometimes people say that. So we create these LEAs that are run by an elected school board. And it’s not a perfect analogy, but I think it’s the best we have, which is to think of that school board as a board of directors.

That’s what they are. And just like with a company, a board of directors hires a CEO to run the day-to-day operations. And so you have locally elected school boards that set the local policy that makes those decisions about the curriculum and about things that are important to the community that might be different.

As I said earlier before the break, from community to community. That’s why we don’t want consistency across the state. The elected boards are the ones that are accountable to the electorate.

They’re duly constitutionally elected. They should set the local policy and then that policy should be enacted by the director of schools or the school Superintendent. Whatever you choose to call them.

And so I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I do see, and we’ve certainly had a testimony, and we’ve had folks that have come in and talked about that its kind of the inverse that the director comes in and tells the board what needs to be done from a policy standpoint.

And that’s fine for them to make recommendations. But ultimately, that policy should be set by the elected school board.

Leahy: Yeah, I agree with that. And it seems to me, however, that the way this institution is set up, it is very difficult for a school board member to come in that wants to reverse course from these various elements of critical race series that are now creeping into the school systems and other things that they don’t like.

Very difficult for one member of a 12 member board or two or three to change course and then actually to get the local school district director to follow their direction. Instead, it seems like the school superintendents are unaccountable and tell the school board what to do, which is exactly the opposite.

I think that makes people very discouraged. Last question for you, what do you think we do in the future on this?

Johnson: I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, and I’m encouraged that there is more engagement from parents and communities relative to the school board. We have school board elections next year, and I think that there’s going to be a great high level of engagement. And that’s the answer to the problem that you just outlined.

Leahy: Let’s hope it happens that way.

Listen to the full first hour here:

– – –

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 “Jack Johnson” by Jack Johnson. 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to discuss the age-inappropriate wit and wisdom curriculum that has many people in the community angered. He also urged parents to get involved in local school board elections and oversight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson: As are you. (Laughter)

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

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

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

Johnson: Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Dr. Matthew Spalding, vice president of Hillsdale College and the executive director of the 1776 commission to the newsmakers line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spalding: We presumed they would proceed. Exactly.

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

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

Leahy: Will Congress pass that bill?

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

Leahy: Which Republicans are sponsoring that bill?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leahy: And come down to the Constitution Bee.

Spalding: I would love to.

Listen to the full second hour here:


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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Matthew Spalding” by Hillsdale