Proposed Changes to Tennessee’s 7th Grade Social Studies Standards

Tennessee Social Studies Standards Review Please see our September 2015 Facts About Tennessee’s Social Studies Standards article for more information about the current standards. Because of the brouhaha over Islamic indoctrination, the state began reviewing the social studies standards in January 2016 vs. the original 2018. (Note that the brouhaha was not organic but a coordinated campaign run by media consultant Steve Gill to incite fear and disinformation.) The public was invited to review the standards and provide feedback. According to Chalkbeat Tennessee, the initial online public review garnered comments from “more than 1,400 reviewers, mainly teachers.” A teacher committee used the comments to come up with proposed new standards for K-12 social studies classes. The proposed standards are now open for public review through October 28. The State Board of Education will collect all of the comments submitted to the website during the second review window, and the standards will again be revised to incorporate the feedback. A Standards Recommendation Committee appointed by Governor Haslam and speakers of the House and Senate will make the ultimate recommendation for new social studies standards to the State Board of Education in early 2017. Textbooks will be adopted in 2018 for the 2019-20 school year. Proposed Changes to 7th Grade World History Standards An article was published in the Kingsport Times-News on 9/25 entitled “Islam removed from draft Tenn. 7th grade social studies standards.” This headline is misleading. The title of the section of study has changed from “Islamic World” to “Southwest Asia and North Africa: 400s-1500s CE.” The area of study has not been completely eliminated. See 7th Grade World History Proposed State Standards Changes for a detailed comparison of the current standards and their revisions.   See our previous articles...

Your Guide to the Anti-Muslim Holiday Inn Hatin’ Hootenanny

The Steve Gill/912 Project/Laurie Cardoza-Moore/99.7 WTN event tonight regarding Islam in the schools purports to be about WCS, though given the track record of the participants we see no reason to believe this event is anything but another stop on the anti-Muslim campaign tour. Here’s a handy guide for those who want to understand a little more about the hosts and presenters.   Reviews from previous stops on the tour “County by County orchestration by Steve Gill & Co. They’ve been distributing DVD’s, spreading fear tactics, etc. stuff since the summer. I had the outside guys stop by and spew this stuff to me in July/August. They convince someone locally to take up their cause & they come in with “revolution in a box” to be our saviors from Islamic Indoctrination & liberalism. Call people from other counties. It’s all the same. Please don’t act like this has randomly popped up. …I’m a Baptist Pastor, Father & a registered Republican & I’m telling you the truth about this. This site [Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination] is owned and operated by Steve Gill and there is money, power, and votes at stake here. I’m speaking out because of their use of deception, fear tactics, attacks against local officials, hatred and inciting of disunity.” – Pastor Brad Walker (First Baptist Church of Sparta) Hosts  Steve Gill — Gill Media. Gill has been running this tour in the plateau counties and started Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination (CAII). Who is paying Mr. Gill? “Why do you think Islam is coming to the Bible belt? Because if they can win here, they know the rest of the way will...

“Our Kids are Getting Indoctrinated” Road Show

The “Our Kids are Getting Indoctrinated in Social Studies” road show is coming Home for the Holidays! Franklin Alderman and campaign consultant Bev Burger and 912 TN President J. Lee Douglas have been busy promoting the event, held conveniently (?) on the Wednesday night of exam week in a Cool Springs hotel lobby. They call it a Town Hall meeting, but let’s call this what it is: a campaign event. This statewide campaign, aka “Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination,” is being run by political operative and Brentwood resident Steve Gill. (We are asking again: who is paying him?) Anybody feel like we’ve been on this ride before? We’ve had months of this political campaign roosting in our school board. Multiple resolutions, speeches, a petition. We parents should be very, very afraid that our kids are being indoctrinated by their teachers, the standards, or the textbooks or by (most menacingly, apparently) PowerPoint presentations. We are being told to “wake up!” This is all about Islam and it isn’t new. This is about fear. And fearmongering. “Children are being forced to learn how to convert to Islam” and “schools are censoring Christianity and proselytizing Islam.” – ACLJ “Why do you think Islam is coming to the Bible belt? Because if they can win here, they know the rest of the way will be easy.” – Steve Gill “The threat of Islam is not in far off countries. It’s in our classrooms in White County.” – CAII paid radio ads in White County “All it takes is one seventh-grader to go home and recite the five pillars of Islam, then go to a school with a bomb in...

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

By Shifay Cheung Williamson Strong Guest Blogger There is an old saying that goes something like this: you can neither form opinions about people nor cultivate empathy until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Some say it was Confucius and some say it was the Native American Indians who first made this wise observation. No matter the source, it is a sentiment that spans generations and cultures. At first, I didn’t want to share my thoughts for fear of making myself vulnerable and anticipating verbal abuse from strangers, but, as local, national and world events have unfolded, the top of which being the heinous acts of terrorism in Paris on November 13, I felt compelled to say something. In opening up about my personal experiences, my hope is for you to take a walk in my shoes and begin to see how the world looks through my lenses. Others may have different outlooks, but the things I have seen and felt are real to me and cannot be dismissed. You also have to understand why speaking out is taking a risk for me. My parents ingrained in me that I should work hard, keep my head down and make no waves, so people would be less inclined to pick on me, which plays into the stereotype of Asians being the model minority. My parents escaped the political and economic turmoil of 1950s Guangdong, China, to Hong Kong and then made a decision to immigrate to the United Kingdom in the early 1960s. They came with nothing and worked hard, often in appalling conditions, to make a new life,...

The ACLJ Claims Victory! Wait…

Check Your Calendar The ACLJ just sent out a press release announcing they have withdrawn their records requests on 146 school districts in the state. Reminder: On September 16, the ACLJ requested every communication “concerning any world religion” including emails between parents and teachers, detailed lesson plans, and all tests, quizzes and assignments from every teacher who touches upon “world religions.” They also asked for the name of every single teacher who teaches the classes. Now the ACLJ says they are withdrawing their request because the state “subsequently” announced they will review social studies standards earlier than anticipated. “On September 16, 2015, I submitted a Tennessee Open Records Act request on behalf of the American Center for Law & Justice (“ACLJ”) to the ____ School District. Subsequently, the State Board of Education Chairman announced that due to the controversy surrounding World Religion and the discussion of Islam in the public schools, Tennessee will be reviewing the social studies standards two years early, in January 2016.” – Carly F. Gammill, Senior Litigation Counsel, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW & JUSTICE Except: The state made their announcement to move up social studies review on September 15, BEFORE the ACLJ filed their records request. Facts matter.  ...

Is This a Rerun?

Let’s recap September: Curlee wants to opt out of social studies tests because of Islam. October: Burgos wants to review state tests because of Islam. November: Mezera wants no state social studies tests at all – but this has nothing to do with Islam. November 18: Curlee publishes a petition asking the TN Commissioner of Education to eliminate state social studies tests “for 6th & 7th Graders for the 2015-16 school year” because they “may infringe on religious beliefs.” She states, “If you look at the petition, no specific religion is mentioned. This is about protecting religious liberties of children and families, a right guaranteed in the constitution.” Here’s what Curlee said about Burgos’ resolution at the October 15 work session: “…right now we have state standards and we also have a state test and a lot of the things that are put on that state test are not necessarily positioned in a historical context. When children are asked to identify a prayer position — proper prayer position — or write a paragraph about the Koran and the Sunnah and the daily impact on the lives of Muslims that is in present tense that is not historical. Um… some of the exercises that we have seen in the other counties with the five pillars have also been replicated here in Williamson County. Now if we sent home some type of assignment or asked kids to do some flip paper chart thing on the Ten Commandments or write a paragraph about the Ten Commandments and how they impact the daily life of Christians, we would definitely hear about it. And...