Our schools are not here to provide a stage for hatred.
We try to stay close to home and focus on issues that directly affect our local Williamson County Schools. One issue that is particularly troubling to us is the pattern of outside, well-funded forces coming into our community, ignoring actual local parent and teacher experience and input (over and over again), and using schools and school systems as a place for their ideological or political or financial pursuits.
These attacks have so far included coordinating attacks against schools, implying teachers do not know what they are doing and/or can’t be trusted with making decisions, and stating parents are checked out or need to “wake up.” We are awake, thanks! Our lives, our kids’ lives, and heaven knows, our teachers’ jobs are full enough without providing a home for extraneous political maneuvering for others’ purposes.
And now we have a statewide campaign to convince us that that there is Islamic indoctrination in schools. It could be funny if it were in the abstract—maybe for The Simpsons? Seriously, seventh grade social studies? Again, we estimate that at least 30,000 WCS students have learned world religion (including the same information) since 2000. This could be a joke if it didn’t involve real people, including our children.
But it does, and nobody’s laughing.
We are seeing the promotion of fear and hate of real people, real families (as well as elected officials) in Williamson County and other Tennessee counties. Those pushing this agenda are using the YouTube theological analysis of zealots who have no academic credentials in history or religion, no peer-reviewed studies, don’t read Arabic, and appear to have no respect from any legitimate scholars. They’re on YouTube and 99.7 WTN, though.
Our job is to stay on top of things that affect WCS schools and keep you informed. So how is Williamson County connected?
White County and Williamson County: The letter that “Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination” (aka CAII, Brentwood resident Steve Gill’s group) sent to the White County School Board includes resolution language that is identical to Beth Burgos’ resolution. What is the extent of the ties between our local elected officials and “Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination” or with the ACLJ who has been fundraising on this issue of so-called “indoctrination”?
RESOLVED, that the Williamson County School Board will select textbooks that promote the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage, our republican form of government, and the principles of federalism. We will oppose the selection of textbooks that contain historical inaccuracies or omissions of world religions which could lead to religious bias. RESOLVED, Williamson County Schools will not discipline or discourage Teachers, Principals and School Personnel “for reporting inaccuracies or errors or potentially inflammatory material in textbooks or other educational materials to supervisors, elected officials, or parents or guardians; prohibits requiring a teacher or other educator to agree not to report inaccuracies or errors or potentially inflammatory material in textbooks or other educational materials, as a condition of employment” as in accordance with Tennessee Law, Public Chapter 165 enacted on July 1, 2015. RESOLVED, Williamson County Schools will include on their website; a copy of social studies state standards, a summary of the basic content of the instruction, a statement of a parent’s right to review the materials, and information describing a parent’s opportunity to participate in the review of social studies textbooks and supplemental materials. Parents may also request to remove their child from the instruction without retribution or penalty and the process for doing so will also be found on the Williamson County Schools website and/or made available upon parental request. RESOLVED, Statewide Assessments, or end of course exams, often drive curriculum decisions. Therefore, Statewide Assessment and end of the course exams should be reviewed by teachers, parents and taxpayers, or school boards prior to administration of exam to confirm students are not being tested on their knowledge of any religion.
Somebody’s paying, and somebody’s running the show: In White County, locals report that one recent speaker (profiled on Loonwatch) was paid $5000 to speak in Sparta and that the local “leaders” couldn’t actually make decisions about the campaign. There are paid ads on the radio and paid ads in the local paper. Who is paying for this? Why?
Rhetoric and actions:
“Why do you think Islam is coming to the Bible belt? Because if they can win here, they know the rest of the way will be easy. But the right people doing the right thing will prevail.” – Steve Gill
“Children are being forced to learn how to convert to Islam” and “schools are censoring Christianity and proselytizing Islam.” – ACLJ
“The threat of Islam is not in far off countries. It’s in our classrooms in White County.” – CAII paid radio ads in White County
“All it takes is one seventh-grader to go home and recite the five pillars of Islam, then go to a school with a bomb in their backpack and blow up 10 kids.” – Anthony Wright, chairman of White County Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination
CAII’s ad published in the Sparta Expositor on 10/29 promoting CAII’s 11/3 meeting.
Reports from a White County group of vandalism against those who oppose CAII.
Cathy Hinners (Daily Roll Call) published a blog post entitled “Deny All You Want, Indoctrination Is In Public Schools” on November 8. (Hinners was also the source of the article Beth Burgos sent people to for more information about her concerns.)
“It isn’t by coincidence Muslim children are attending public schools, they are another way in which the word of Islam is spread.” – Cathy Hinners, Daily Roll Call, 11/8/15
WCS board member Susan Curlee “liked” the article that includes the quote above.
Some of this is local; some is a few counties away. All of it affects our community: our elected officials, our teachers, our families, and our boys and girls in the school system. We can’t believe what we see happening, to be honest. We are shocked that it’s gone so far.