The Nashville Tennessean reported yesterday that the Tennessee Department of Education recently dismissed its first official complaint about a reported violation of the state’s new law banning supposed “critical race theory” from schools. The law prohibits Tennessee public and charter schools from teaching history that makes students feel “discomfort” about their race or sex.
The department dismissed the complaint, which was filed this summer, on a technicality: It referred to teaching that happened before the law took effect.
The details of the complaint, however, are very instructive.
Simply put, the “Moms for Liberty” chapter in Williamson County, near Nashville, alleged that their county’s public schools illegally taught children about the Civil Rights Movement last year.
If you don’t believe me, look at the actual complaint letter, which is provided by the Tennessean.
The complaint says Williamson County Schools used a second-grade language arts curriculum that included the following four books:
- Frances E. Ruffin’s Martin Luther King Jr. and the March on Washington (Scholastic)
- Ruby Bridges, Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story (Scholastic)
- Robert Coles, The Story of Ruby Bridges (Scholastic)
- Duncan Tonatiuh, Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Harry N. Abrams)
All four of these books are about true events that happened between the 1940s and 1960s.
The complaint says the school district illegally used these books to make second graders “hate their country, each other, and themselves.” It says these books had this effect because they depict African American and Mexican American southerners in the mid-20th century being mistreated, and because the teacher’s manual directs teachers to say negative things about their mistreatment.
The complaint, moreover, accuses the school district of using the word injustice too frequently in its teacher’s manual, with illegal anti-white classroom exercises like asking students, “What injustices did people face before the civil rights act of 1964?” and “How can people respond to injustice?”
The complaint sums up its position this way: “There does not have to be a textbook labeled ‘Critical Race Theory’ for its harmful tenets to be present in a curriculum; the evidence is present in the outcome.”
The illegal outcome, apparently, is for Tennessee children in second grade to learn about the history of American racism or civil rights protests at all.