Rep. Robin Smith: Uniting, Not Dividing

Monday, May 10, 2021 - by Rep. Robin Smith

Parents send their children to Tennessee's schools for academic preparation. The expectation is that teachers, as licensed as professionals in our state, will fulfill that need. The number of complaints have increased about the activism in the classroom as proficiencies in English, reading, math, science and history remain below 50 percent at 3rd and 8th grade levels and, unfortunately, upon graduation.

Last week, the TN General Assembly passed legislation that reinforces standards of Tennessee's Department of Education and the Board of Education with protections that ensure our students will be taught academics absent the growing effort to rewrite history and employ a narrative that our nation is systemically racist.

Deemed as "controversial" by the press and those working to inject this type of curriculum in our schools, the law will simply forbid Tennessee's public schools from teaching students that

An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex;

An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;

An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex;

A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;

This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;

Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people;

Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex;

The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups;

All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or

Governments should deny to any person within the government's jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.

Tennessee's state budget invests $730 million in new spending for education, including the full funding of the Basic Education Plan at $62 million. Additionally, our teachers will receive $120 million for pay raises on top of a $43 million approved post-COVID for teacher pay raises.
The General Assembly works to fund our public schools and will work to ensure our students are taught academics to prepare for their futures, not activism.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reflects his legacy of opportunity, education and personal freedom...regardless of race.

The rewriting and reframing of history that some are trying to teach or introduce throughout our schools and culture are the antithesis is Dr. King's work of equality and the advancement of civil rights.

From my perspective, Tennesseans are best served when we are committed to learning from our history. By doing so, we are creating our best days ahead, not living in the past.

Rep. Robin Smith


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