Tennessee group argues that teaching MLK is illegal — because of the GOP's ban on 'critical race theory'

Tennessee group argues that teaching MLK is illegal — because of the GOP's ban on 'critical race theory'
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives a speech

The Tennessee Dept. of Education is refusing to investigate a far right group’s claims that a second grade curriculum which includes books about Black Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is “anti-American” and “anti-white” – but on a technicality.

The Williamson County, TN chapter of the group Moms for Liberty had filed an 11-page complaint with the state, claiming that the “classroom books and teacher manuals reveal both explicit and implicit Anti-American, Anti-White, and Anti-Mexican teaching,” as The Tennessean reports.

“The relentless nature of how these divisive stories are taught,” the group’s complaint continues, “the lack of historical context and difference in perspective, and the manipulative pedagogy all work together to amplify and sow feelings of resentment, shame of one’s skin color, and/or fear.”

The complaint is signed by the local group’s chairperson, Robin Steenman, who Reuters has called “an Air Force veteran and white mother of three.” It claimed the Williamson County Schools district is violating the law:

Steenman also appears to suggest slavery and Jim Crow were “positive achievements, like unity and the overall improvement of our country.”

Her comments to some may sound straight out of a Fox News or right wing media reports. They claim the curriculum amounts to a “heavily biased agenda,” one that “makes children hate their country, each other, and/or themselves.”

Rather than be concerned that these events actually happened, Steenman appears to be suggesting teaching they happened is anti-Americanism:

ThinkProgress and Popular Information founder Judd Legum:

The Tennessean reports “the department declined to investigate the allegations because the lessons occurred during the 2020-21 school year.”

The department is only authorized to investigate allegations that have occurred during the 2021‐ 2022 school year and subsequent school years, according to the letter sent to Steenman by Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn on Nov. 23.

Which means the complaint could be filed again.

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