A local “Moms for Liberty” chapter is stirring up anti-Critical Race Theory sentiment in Franklin, Tennessee, which group is composed of concerned mothers who want the Williamson County Schools to remove Critical Race Theory from its curriculum.
Reuters profiled Robin Steenman, a white Air Force veteran and mother of three children, who is leading the group against the county school system. Although Steenman’s remaining school-aged child is in private school, Steenman wants to make sure the county’s children have a fair and balanced historical curriculum.
One of Steenman’s claims was that the reading and teaching material were biased, such as teaching anti-white dogma that white people are oppressors and that racial minorities are victims.
Critical Race Theory is the flawed theory which claims all longtime or established American institutions, whether they be political, legal, or education, are inherently racist and are biased against black Americans. It promotes the unproven argument that America has not progressed from the allegedly embedded racism in these institutions, despite history proving the theory and its supporters wrong.
The activist group sent a complaint letter to Tennessee’s Department of Education, demanding that the state agency force the county schools to remove Critical Race Theory elements from its curriculum. Tennessee is one of eight states which banned Critical Race Theory from public school curriculum, the majority of which have Republican majorities in the state legislatures and governor’s mansions. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, called Critical Race Theory “un-American.”
Under law, Tennessee can strip teaching licenses from teachers and slash state funding from schools which teach Critical Race Theory.
Williamson County Schools denied Steenman’s claims and 11 of the district’s 12 board members declined to comment on the emerging controversy. The lone board member, Eliot Mitchell, called Steenman’s claims “misguided.” It is reviewing the curriculum at the request of a community member, which will be completed by November 2021.
Franklin is the site of a significant U.S. Civil War battle in 1864, where over 2,000 Union and 6,000 Confederate soldiers died in major fighting. The Union victory allowed the Union soldiers to retreat to Nashville, while the Confederate army lost twenty percent of its fighting force. During the following battle at Nashville, the Confederates lost the battle and the manpower to stop future Union operations into the South.
Also, according to Reuters, the city has several local plantations where slave labor was used and its public square displays a Confederate monument. The square was the site of a former slave market and a lynching of a black man by the Ku Klux Klan.
For these reasons, proponents of Critical Race Theory (and opponents of Moms for Liberty) blasted “long-standing pattern of racial insensitivity toward minority students in this 82% white county.”
Still, Steenman said that the current county curriculum was not age-appropriate and failed to properly explain the country’s progress on civil rights and race relations. She noted, “There’s so much positive that has happened in the 60 years since, but it’s all as if it never happened.”
With half of the county’s school board member positions up for election this fall, Steenman and other activists plan on being politically active to elect like-minded officials.