Nashville schools pledge to fight racism amid critical ban on racial theory

Despite Tennessee’s new ban on teaching subjects related to critical race theory, the Nashville School Board is committed to helping eradicate institutional racism and the culture of white supremacy.

Eight members of the Metro Nashville Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday in favor of “multicultural education” for the more than 80,000 students in the district.

“The Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education will advocate for the research and implementation of social and educational strategies that promote the eradication of institutional racism and white privileges perpetuated by the culture of white supremacy,” reads the resolution. “[And will] Additionally, support teachers who teach Tennessee Academic Standards in a factual manner that represents the truth of that country’s history. “

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The resolution comes amid the ongoing national debate over whether controversial topics like race, racism and prejudice should be taught in public schools.

In the closing days of this spring’s legislative session, Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill banning the teaching of certain concepts related to race and meritocracy.

A student in Kellie Marks' fourth grade class works on her

For the most part, critical race theory isn’t even taught in K-12 schools. The concept, which started as an academic movement, has been around for decades and is mostly taught in law schools or universities.

Earlier this month, the Tennessee Department of Education released a proposal for guidance on how current students, families, or staff might file grievances if they believe prohibited material is being taught in school.

Districts found guilty of knowingly breaking the law could lose millions of dollars in public funding.

“Propaganda like the CRT”:Tennessee School Leader: State Pledged to Keep “Propaganda Like Critical Race Theory” from the Classroom

Two Middle Tennessee chapters of Moms for Liberty, a conservative Florida-based parenting group, continued to raise concerns about Metro Nashville’s public school literacy program, Wit & Wisdom.

The program, which is used by more than 30 school districts in Tennessee and has been approved through a waiver process by the state’s Department of Education, includes books and topics that some parents find inappropriate. .

One of those books is “Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story” by Ruby Bridges – which parents argued during the public comment period of school board meetings shows that “all white people are considered bad” .

In July, Cindy Goddard, former Metro Schools educator and president of the Moms for Liberty – Davidson County chapter, questioned scenes from the book “Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington,” which depicts “firefighters bombard small children with shoes that tear off their clothes and injure their bodies” – real events that happened during the civil rights movement.

“What is a second grader going to take away from this book besides that?” Goddard said. “Yes, this is an ugly part of the story … and it should be taught, but with care and at the appropriate age.”

Great Minds, a Washington DC-based nonprofit editor of the Wit & Wisdom program, said it was aware of Tennessee’s new law and maintains that the material is fully compliant.

“It hurts me even more”: Teens discuss the impact of the Critical Racial Theory Law on their education

How to teach difficult subjects:The history of the United States is complex. Scholars say this is the right way to teach slavery, racism.

Teachers called on school board members to protect them from overzealous parents who might criticize them for teaching the state of Tennessee approved standards.

Tennessee’s social norms include topics such as slavery, Tennessee’s role in the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., the era of reconstruction, and the rise of the Ku Klux. Klan.

“In short, teachers, we support you,” said board chair Christiane Buggs ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

Math teacher Michael Adkins greets his new fourth graders on the first day of school at Napier Elementary School in South Nashville on August 10, 2021. Adkins is a former “teacher of the year” for the school.

Council member Gini Pupo-Walker congratulated her colleague, Emily Masters, for bringing forward the resolution.

Pupo-Walker had previously pledged to “take the blows” for teachers.

“We need to protect our teachers,” Pupo-Walker said at a school board meeting in July. “Our teachers are going to be those who are attacked, those who are questioned, those who are judged. … I will take the blows, I will take whatever I have to, to carry the load for [teachers] do what they have to do. “

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Meghan Mangrum is covering education for the USA TODAY – Tennessee Network. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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