Robin Steeman of Moms for Liberty-Williamson County Chapter Outlines ‘Wit and Wisdom’ Indoctrination

Robin Steeman of Moms for Liberty-Williamson County Chapter Outlines ‘Wit and Wisdom’ Indoctrination

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Andy Ogles in Dismay of Williamson County Textbook Teaching Second Graders About Gender Change

Mayor Andy Ogles in Dismay of Williamson County Textbook Teaching Second Graders About Gender Change

 

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to weigh in on the recently discovered and governor-approved inappropriate curriculum being taught to elementary students across the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: Every Tuesday, that means our good friend the mayor of Maury County, that bastion of freedom here in Tennessee, Andy Ogles is in with us. Good morning, Andy.

Ogles: Good morning. How are you today?

Leahy: Well, if you listened to me as you were coming in, you’ll know, I’m a little bit hot! This is why I prefer radio to television because you can be sort of hot on the radio, and it will cause people to pay attention.

If you’re too hot on television, they say, what’s wrong with that guy? But the other thing, too, you are a very gracious Southerner. And when you have an objection to something that somebody’s doing, you present it in a very nice, calm, and polite way.

I’ve confessed this to our audience before. I’m a Yankee, and I’ve been in Tennessee since 1991. But I still have those very aggressive Yankee tendencies and they come out in the morning sometimes when I’ve just had my first cup of coffee.

Ogles: I was listening on the way in, and I was kind of tickled, quite frankly. I mean, you’re on a roll. But I think people should be aggravated and should be ticked off when you hear that 33 counties in the state of Tennessee, we have 95 counties, have wit and wisdom.

You can call it what you want, but that’s critical race theory. And so you have the legislatures taking action. This stuff should be yanked off the shelves. The curriculum should have been pulled already. And here we are with this spreading across the state. And so it’s troubling, to say the least.

Leahy: But you know who’s spreading it? It’s not the people. It’s not the average people. It’s not the parents. It’s not the taxpayers. It is the elite left-wing, unresponsive bureaucrats that have basically been appointed by Governor Bill Lee. I call them that, you don’t call them this. I call them Governor Weakly.

Ogles: I think if you talk to any teacher and they spend so much time data collecting and getting ready for tests and trying to check boxes that have been pushed down by the federal government and the state government.

And at the end of the day, they just want to teach. And why don’t we get back to teaching? When you have 65 percent of rising fourth graders, that means they’re about to start their fourth-grade year, and they can’t read on level?

And yet we’re in this mind-numbing cycle and circle of pushing these branded curriculums that at the end of the day are undermining our country.

Leahy: Corinne Murdock did a story about this. The Moms for Liberty in Williamson County.

Ogles: Yeah, I was here. It was a great event.

Leahy: It’s just shocking that this curriculum, this wit and wisdom curriculum has been promoted by Penny Schwinn and is in use in 33 counties in the state of Tennessee. I looked at the curriculum for the second grade and it is just really very frightening what they’re teaching in these various modules.

I’m going to the story right now. Wit and wisdom, grade two, module three. And the kinds of things that they’re talking about for a second-grader. Second graders, you can teach them to read See Spot Run.

But they’re focusing on injustices. The kids are supposed to talk about injustice in second grade. How did Ruby Bridges respond to injustice? This is a second-grader. How did the Mendez family respond to injustice?

These are the questions asked of second graders. How did this person respond to injustice? Is that what you want to be teaching second graders?

Ogles: So keep in mind, wit and wisdom is being taught in Williamson County. And so it’s one thing to see something on the web and think, well, maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not. But I went to this event because I wanted to see it for myself.

I wanted to pick up and read the textbooks. We’re talking about elementary-age students. One of the books is about this sea horse. It’s a family, and the sea horse is unsure of his or her gender. In fact, they can change gender.

Leahy: Hold it. They’re doing transgender junk?

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: In elementary school curriculum?

Ogles: And guys as part of their biology curriculum.

Leahy: Oh, my gosh.

Ogles: And now get this. You think I’m kidding, but I’ve seen the book for myself. I held it. And later on, it’s talking about reproduction. It shows these two sea horses in a variety of positions, and I’ll just stop there.

Leahy: Oh, my goodness.

Ogles: For elementary school students.

Leahy: Are they going to bring Jeffrey Toobin in as a special advisor? Unbelievable.

Ogles: But until you see it, you think we are crazy, but it’s there.

Leahy: It’s being taught and Penny Schwinn is endorsing it and Governor Bill Weakly is doing nothing about it.

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