A report was just released with the results of the 6-month curriculum review process that was initiated following a complaint filed by multiple members of the local chapter of Moms for Liberty (MFL) in adherence with WCS policy 4.403.
For background as to how we got here, first read our previous posts:
Wit & Wisdom: What's all the fuss? (Part I)
Wit & Wisdom: What's all the Fuss? (Part II)
and, our personal favorite:
seahorses, feelings, and heckling
As you likely know, this curriculum-censorship movement has taken root all over the country as a nationally organized effort to drum up parental outrage and push the notion that public schools are out to "indoctrinate" and even "sexualize" small American humans, or turn them into little social justice warriors by hearing about Ruby Bridges going to school.
The curriculum being used in WCS elementary schools is once again ground zero for the propaganda hysteria, and a group of taxpayer-funded professionals just had to spend a great deal of time reviewing these complaints and providing a very detailed analysis of their findings. It was unquestionably an excellent use of county resources given there's nothing else possibly more pressing facing educators in 2021-22.
Some key tidbits found in the committee's report:
"The committee received forty complaints. These complaints came from 37 people. One complainant sent reconsideration documentation to four schools (Heritage, Longview, Allendale, and Chapman’s Retreat) as indicated with an asterisk below. Fourteen are community members without children in WCS. Nine have children in WCS but they are not enrolled in elementary school. Fourteen have one or more children enrolled in elementary school."
So 14 actual WCS elementary school parents complained about these books....and, fun fact, most of the complaint forms were literal copies of each other. Word for word. Many didn't even have parental signatures on them, but instead a simple "X" where whomever distributed the example marked where they should sign before turning in their homework.
Another fun fact:
"Teacher Edition Overview
The document presented by multiple complainants was directly related to the Teacher Editions used in the state of Florida not the state of Tennessee. The committee used state of Tennessee Teacher Editions for reviewing concerns. Based on the review conducted it was evident to the committee that the state of Florida and the state of Tennessee manuals are not the same. The committee did the review to the best of their ability while working to ensure the concerns presented were reviewed adequately. This was completed despite not always having an exact match through the page or lesson referenced in the document submitted by complainants."
Wait. Isn't Moms for Liberty a Florida-based organization? Could this....could this be that the field teams aren't actually doing their own research and are just copying/pasting curriculum complaints from their mother ship without bothering to make sure they were actually objecting to their own state's manual?
We give them a C- for not proofreading before turning in.
On a serious note, the committee found that of the books submitted for review, just one, Walk Two Moons, is recommended for removal from 4th grade curriculum due to its "emotionally weighted topics" and its current spot in the 4th quarter of the school year. This isn't a huge surprise, because part of Wit & Wisdom's curriculum design centers around increasing reading difficulty at younger ages (e.g. moving books down into lower grades) based on new research around the science of how children learn to read and critically examine texts. These sort of tweaks are normal within the first few years of using a new program.
It's important to call out that some of the issues in the MFL complaints about Walk Two Moons were "we are not sending kids to learn about social justice" as well as "there is an unnecessary slap at historical monuments."
Additionally, and more problematically to be honest, the committee has recommended 7 books have modifications made in how they're taught, including one to the infamous 1st grade book, Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea.
The complaints about this book were as follows, presumably written by adults who are somehow functioning in modern-day society:
Yes, these individuals believe that a 1st grade book on seahorses is part of some big agenda to teach gender fluidity because clearly nature didn't get the memo that their mating process was designed for a Leftist, Liberal agenda.
Some poor committee member drew the short straw and had to construct the following sentences:
"The committee concludes there is not a graphic explanation of seahorse sex. The committee considers the book a very strong informational text—it is scientifically accurate and shares many facts throughout the text. While the committee agrees that reproduction is discussed, we do not share the concerns stated by complainants. The student audience does not have the understanding or experience to find the text provocative as described by complainants. The committee concludes it is first grade appropriate and meets the life cycle standards in science therefore having a cross-curricular benefit to students. Lastly, the committee does not find the video at all provocative. The committee does not share the concern in the final bullet above as they do not see the video connecting in any manner to human gender fluidity as referenced by complainants."
HOWEVER, the committee is recommending a required adjustment: "As the book is read aloud, pages 12 and 13 should not be displayed to students." They disagreed with the complaint, found no issues, but are requiring teachers to not show pages of it?
Someone make it make sense.
And there's your slippery slope, my friends. This may seem harmless on the surface, but what just happened is that a group of very intelligent adults just bowed down to peer pressure by mandating that 1st graders not see seahorses twirling their tails together.
We have so very many questions.
How many 1st grade teachers were consulted in this decision? Did a single one actually say...you know, maybe kids really can't handle seeing twirling seahorses. Maybe this book that was published 13 years ago and written for ages 4-8 is just now becoming problematic! Maybe kids have gotten more fragile in all that time, and surely hiding a few pages from them is no big deal in the grand scheme of things.
The review committee is also recommending that 3 pages of 2nd grade book Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation not be read in the classroom after the complaints said such things as "Characterizes white children and adults as mean."
Welp....WCS, you just opened the doors to an onslaught of these challenges, so have fun keeping up with the noise because you just got played.
These decisions can be appealed and are not final, and if you're a WCS elementary school teacher who thinks this has gone a little too far, YOU can appeal it. Per the Tennesseean, "Those filing the initial complaint or any affected school employees have until Feb. 15 to appeal the committee's finding. If no appeal is filed by the deadline, the committee's decision is final."
You understand the assignment.
Don't worry. We'll get to the Ruby Bridges and MLK, Jr. children's books soon. Luckily the committee left those untouched in the face of truly enlightened complaints like "characterizes white people as mean, hateful, and oppressive" and "the book “characterizes whites as mean when 100% of white people weren’t like that.” Do you sense a theme here?
warning: sensitive content ahead, shield your eyes....
More to come. We're on #bookbanning watch here and know thousands of you parents are doing the same, so we'll keep you updated on who's saying what and what you can do about it.