Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R) found Critical Race Theory-esque lessons in his children’s own school district.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Johnson is scrutinizing the Williamson County Schools’ Wit & Wisdom reading program for materials having to do with race. In May, Tennessee banned teaching Critical Race Theory in schools.
Great Minds’ Wit & Wisdom, which initially failed state analysis, contains items that are “very problematic and certainly not age-appropriate, if appropriate at all,” Johnson said.
“I think there certainly are elements of the Wit & Wisdom curriculum that could be construed as being aligned with Critical Race Theory,” he told Tennessee Lookout.
“But whether Wit & Wisdom is or is not aligned or synonymous with Critical Race Theory, I think it is certainly problematic. Elements of it are,” Johnson said.
Moms for Liberty, a parent activist group, got involved in reviewing the materials, according to the Williamson Herald:
Moms for Liberty has been one vocal group in community dialogue around Wit & Wisdom. It held a well-attended event last week discussing the members’ concerns about the curriculum, at which school board members Jay Galbreath, Candy Emerson and Dan Cash, among other elected officials, were present. Over 30 members of the group spoke at Monday night’s board meeting about the curriculum.
Some have also expressed concern that the curriculum introduces critical race theory. Moms for Liberty criticized books, particularly in the second grade “Civil Rights Heroes” module, that paint “white people in a negative light,” “talk about Native Americans hating white men,” are “racially divisive,” and “[demonize] whites.”
“Why have this book if you need all these warnings?” Robin Steenman, Williamson County president of Moms for Liberty told the paper. “There’s a lot of beautiful literature out there. Pick something in that pile.”
The Tennessee Star had more from the Moms for Liberty review:
“Without seeing the teaching materials involved in this module, one cannot begin to grasp the high level of manipulation being inflicted upon the young minds of impressionable second graders who do not yet have the level of maturity or capacity to think critically, nor enough knowledge of U.S. history and experience to provide adequate context to the narrowly-focused [Wit and Wisdom] lessons,” wrote the deep dive team. “The narrow and slanted obsession on historical mistakes reveals a heavily biased agenda, one that makes children hate their country, each other, or themselves. The relentless nature of how these divisive stories are taught, the lack of historical context and difference in perspective, and the manipulative way the lessons were designed to be taught all work together to amplify and sow feelings of resentment, shame of one’s skin color, and/or fear.”
Metro Nashville Public Schools adopted the Wit & Wisdom curriculum and defended its usage.
“We do not consider it a problem, but rather an important tool to increase rigor and building our students’ knowledge and reading comprehension skills while scaffolding in social-emotional learning supports,” district spokesman Sean Braisted told Tennessee Lookout, adding the materials raise “complex subjects related to their real-world life experiences.”