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 Moms for Liberty’s Robin Steenman to the newsmaker line to talk about their upcoming parent informational meeting Monday evening that will address the dangers of social emotional learning in K-5 schools.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by our very good` friend Robin Steenman with Moms for Liberty, Williamson County. Robin, you’ve got an event coming up to teach parents about Woke curriculum. Tell us about that.
Steenman: The event is SEL 101, Standing for Social Emotional Learning. And it’s really the facilitator of every ideology in our school. So parents need to know about it, and it’s really ambiguous and hard to define by design.
So we’re just trying to take the mystery out of it and equip parents with the information that they need in order to advocate for their students.
Leahy: Now, Robin. Social emotional learning. (Steenman chuckles) Now what could possibly be wrong with I mean, kids need to be social; they need to understand their emotions. What could possibly be wrong with social-emotional learning? Is that what it is or is it something else?
Steenman: Everything’s just wrapped in a candy-coated cell these days. Is it gender-affirming care?
Leahy: Gender-affirming care means something’s going to be mutilated.
Steenman: Exactly. And so social emotional learning is really a nice sounding term for the Trojan horse in our schools. In fact, it’s been described as the railroad tracks upon which every ideology, including Critical Race Theory and gender ideology and critical queer theory, and critical feminist theory and all of the theories are brought into our school.
So that’s why we’ve got the 2022-2023 school year for parents in which we’re really trying to take the overwhelming breadth of issues that parents face and break it down just one by one, one month at a time.
And we picked SEL first for the first real event that we’re putting on this year because it’s just so important. It really does facilitate all the others.
Leahy: When and where will SEL 101 be held and how do parents sign up for it?
Steenman: They can visit our website to get information and tickets. The tickets are $10. We are just trying to help cover our costs on this one. We are a nonprofit and the location is Generations Church in downtown Franklin at 408 Church Street and pretty easy to find and pretty central to Williamson County.
Leahy: And what is your group’s website, Robin?
Steenman: It’s momsfordlibertywc.org for Williamson County.
Leahy: Momsforlibertywc.org. And now what day and time is this being held?
Steenman: It is this coming Monday, October 17th at 6:00 p.m.
Leahy: How long is it?
Steenman: Two hours.
Leahy: Okay, so you can fit this into your schedule, right?
Steenman: Oh, yeah.
Leahy: Momsforlibertywc.org. Now, after you go to this event, Monday, October 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. At Generations Church in Franklin, what will they be informed about? Social emotional learning. You have to say that. Social emotional learning. But after they do that, what will they be equipped to do?
Steenman: First of all, they’ll be able to identify it and define it because one parent describes SEL as trying to nail Jello to a wall, it’s difficult by design. And there’s a psychological agenda for your kids. The teachers are acting in a psychological capacity, focusing on emotions. It’s even hard to describe over the radio.
But let me put it this way in really concrete terms. In 2021, our chapter got a lot of scrutiny and spotlight for breaking the story on our dark age inappropriate elementary curriculum called Wit and Wisdom, and we filed a state complaint about it under the antitrust law. Our parents initiated a deep dive into that curriculum.
They spent over 1200 hours surveying and reading every single book and doing a book report on it. And we did that looking for Critical Race Theory, because in 2021, that’s all we need to look for. And what we found was the end to end social emotional learning, facilitating pockets of Critical Race Theory and gender ideology and anti-Americanism and critical feminine theory.
And we didn’t expect that. So that was really our first real practical look at social emotional learning. And in this elementary curriculum, what is it? Well, it’s teachers focusing on emotions more than reading and writing. And this is an English and language arts curriculum.
So the teachers are constantly asking, well, how do you feel? How does the story make you feel? This is how the story makes me feel. And these stories are not uplifting. They’re so dark and negative and graphic.
We’re talking about graphic death and dark imagery and torture and rape and scalping and skinning and murder of women and children. And it just goes on and on and on. And you’re bombarding K through fifth graders daily with this stuff, and it’s designed to turn these kids into emotional beings.
It’s not at all. It flies under the banner of over helping kids deal with their emotions. No, it’s absolutely stirring up a child’s emotions and turning them into emotional beings, because the ideologies that are controlling this or rolling this in are not about objective truth they’re about subjective truth, which is largely emotions. Emotion, emotion, emotion.
And that’s the dangers of social emotional learning. When you start a kid in kindergarten, by the time they graduate high school, you have a being that is slave to their emotions and not logic and reasoning and objective truth.
Leahy: I can tell you this, when I was a kid back in the 1960s and attended elementary school at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church School in St. John’s Academy in Plattsburg, New York, the nuns did not ask me once how I felt about anything. (Laughter)
Steenman: And you turned out all right.
Leahy: Some people would say I turned out all right. But what’s interesting is I think I like the use of your phrase nailing jello to the wall. The social emotional learning is a stalking horse or a Trojan horse for all of these very negative, dark concepts that are designed, I think, to make elementary school kids depressed and anti-American.
That’s what it looks like to me. Does this just happen organically among the educrats? How does this all come about?
Steenman: This was really started under Obama, of course. All of this is really kind of started under Obama, and it started out as not too bad. It was sold as a positive thing, and a lot of people bought it as a positive thing.
But as many of those things have started in that time, it just really morphed into something negative and sinister, especially if they ever use the word transformative. (Inaudible crosstalk)
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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.
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. – guest host Cunningham welcomed Robin Steeman of Moms for Liberty-Williamson County to the newsmaker line to outline the indoctrinating curriculum of Wit and Wisdom and its efforts to push back against the school board and superintendent.
Cunningham: Robin Steeman is with Moms for Liberty in Williamson County. Robin, good morning.
Steeman: Good morning, Ben.
Cunningham: Thank you so much for taking the time to join us this morning. We just wanted to get an update on what’s going on. The last I heard, you guys were attending school board meetings.
Your thrust has been to highlight and expose Critical Race Theory in schools and other issues that are going on. Give us an update on what is going on right now with you guys.
Steeman: Sure thing, Ben. As you know, we started our journey taking on Critical Race Theory in Williamson County. And it really started with the hiring of the diversity equity inclusion consultancy in which – that we anticipate they’ll identify systemic racism in the county.
And then we’re off to the races with CRT-type policy. In that journey, we became aware of students ashamed of their skin color and students feeling like a victim because of their skin color.
So we really turned to look at where CRT already existed in the system. And, of course, our first suspicion was the curriculum. So we’ve done a deep dive into the Wit and Wisdom curriculum, and there are pockets of CRT.
But the problem with Wit and Wisdom is it’s really social-emotional learning from K through fifth grade. It’s extremely dark, extremely graphic. Emotions run high, but they’re all negative emotions and just a lot of age-inappropriate material.
And that’s where our battle is right now is Wit and Wisdom. And as the school year starts, literally next week, parents’ emotions are running high. For some parents, there are some stress levels out there.
Cunningham: And it just sounds so Orwellian. All of these terms just sound really, really strange and Orwellian as if we all need to be forced into equity and inclusion. And as if there’s some great moral rule out there that we’re not attuned to that – parents must be educated about the great moral issues of the day.
This is just ridiculous. Parents should be in charge of what goes on in schools and schools should prioritize teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic first before they get into the social-emotional and all these other issues. How did we drift so far away from the basics of education?
Steeman: I wish I knew that. (Chuckles) I’m new on the scene. I think it’s a slide and we’ve been going down a slope for a while and parents have been busy, and we’ve been living our lives.
And we’ve put a lot of faith and a lot of trust in the school district and in those that run the school district and assume that they’re on the same page with us and at least the same side with us. And then COVID happens, and parents get to sit in on what their kids are being taught and low and behold what’s going on.
Cunningham: It’s been a huge revelation, I think, to parents and grandparents and everybody. And thankfully, I don’t know, it may be a mixed blessing of COVID that we are getting some insights into exactly what is going on and beginning to hold them accountable. What do you see for Moms for Liberty as your role over the school year that is about to start?
Steeman: We’ve put in well over 1,200 hours by now of research into Wit and Wisdom by over 20 parents to really get to the bottom of it because each module, each lesson also has a teacher’s manual and that teacher’s manual must be looked at thoroughly.
And I’ll give you an example real quick because we just found something new. There’s a book in the kindergarten grade, module one, and it’s called Bojangles. And I bought the book and read it, and I have no problems with it. I would let my daughter read it.
She’s about to go into first grade. But it talks about Bojangles and how he danced and how that was a positive thing in the world. And there’s this one page where he’s dancing past open and closed doors. And two of the doors are closed.
And then a couple of the doors are open and the people are waving. But there’s this one door that’s closed. It looks like a man is turned the other way. It was kind of an angry expression. And what is his skin color? Well, it’s white.
I mean, is that historically accurate? I’m sure. But I have no problem with that for a child. My child would see that and would probably focus on the waving happy people and would focus on the pictures of Bojangles dancing.
But then you look at the teacher’s manual and it’s striking because it says, okay, kids, let’s focus on the angry white man. Look at his expression.
Cunningham: You are kidding me? Does it literally say that?
Steeman: Well, it doesn’t say the white man, but it’s the angry man. It wants them to focus on that. And, of course, the skin color is very evident. But then it goes on to say that Bojangles, that these doors were closed to him because of his skin color.
And it says it multiple times. I mean, a child would have never picked up on that in just the reading of the book. But the teacher’s manual will not allow them an innocent reading of the book. It will not permit their children’s innocence.
It has to force a kindergartener, a five or six-year-old, to look at this story through a racial lens, to say, oh, Bojangles is racially oppressed. And this man behind the door and the angered expression has something to do with that.
And then further, it goes into the Harlem Renaissance for kindergarteners. I would submit that the kindergartener has no idea what the regular old Renaissance is. So it’s just not age-appropriate. The book itself is fine.
But the teacher’s manual is where it just goes off the rails. And the teacher’s manual even puts a note in there for the teachers like this word is too advanced. The word is closed for module one and the kindergarteners because of the blended sounds. But due to the narrative of the story, because that’s more important, then we’re going to use it anyway.
So put it up on the word wall, but the students don’t need to read it. Those are just out of whack priorities. This is English language arts. You’re teaching a child to read and write for the first time and you’re choosing words that are too advanced because they hit the narrative that’s being presented.
So once you read that teacher’s note, it’s really all you need to know about the priorities of this particular lesson. The teacher’s manuals are really crucial. There are many examples of a book that may be okay or maybe not that bad.
And then you match it up with the teacher’s manual and it’s incredibly stilted in ideology, especially in the third grade. We’re digging up more stuff about Story Messenger, which is a book about Galileo, which normally would be a great thing.
But the teacher’s manual, instead of focusing on his scientific advancements, this new way of thinking, and how he changed the world, it absolutely focuses on how he was persecuted by the Church. The Church and its traditions are bad.
Cunningham: It’s indoctrinating kids into a particular worldview. I don’t think there’s any question about that.
Steeman: No, there’s not. So what we’ve done is we’ve raised our objections with our school board and with our superintendent. We submitted letters requesting a forum back in June that we could present our findings, but our superintendent would really have nothing to do with that.
We had a forum anyway, and three school board members and a handful of our local elected officials attended. But instead, now we’re wrapped up in this 4.403 process, which is a board policy title request for reconsideration of instructional materials.
Which really was geared for a parent filing a complaint about a single book, whereas we’re following it complaining about the whole curriculum. But now we’re in a 4.403 process. It’s a pretty loose timeline.
They’re not giving us a lot of specifics. There are five members on the committee that we don’t necessarily agree with. We weren’t given a seat at the table even though we’re a legitimate parent organization.
And the policy allows for the parent organization to be at the table. So school starts imminently and parents are getting nervous. Some have pulled out altogether. And then for those that are keeping their child in because not every parent can withdraw their child …
Cunningham: We are coming up on a break. Can you stay over the break for us? I apologize for interrupting you there. I’d love to ask you some more questions.
Steeman: I sure can.
Listen to the 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.