Saturday, September 23, 2023

Is this critical race theory?


A county chancery court judge in Tennessee ruled that showing students photographs of “Whites Only” and “Coloreds Only” drinking fountains in a textbook doesn’t constitute the teaching of critical race theory (CRT), which Tennessee law prohibits, The Tennesseean reports.

A parent group known as Parents’ Choice Tennessee brought a lawsuit to the bench of Judge Michael Binkley of the Williamson County Chancery Court, claiming a textbook that is part of Williamson County Schools’ curriculum in social studies entitled “Wit and Wisdom,” along with photos of African Americans being sprayed with a fire hose during the Civil Rights Movement, not only violated state law by teaching CRT but also violated their rights as parents to direct the upbringing of their children.

WCS’s attorney said that while she fundamentally believes in parents’ right to direct their children’s upbringing, that right doesn’t include “the right to tell public schools what to teach or what not to teach.”

Judge Binkley also noted that the parent group had not precisely followed the law: They brought the case directly to a court of law and failed to address the matter with the local school system first. Tennessee law holds that a complainant “must file a complaint with the [school district] … in which the allegation(s) arose.”

“Am I missing something?” he asked out loud. “That sounds mandatory … I have to follow what the law says. I can’t just make it up as I go. When the legislature tells us what to do, I’ve got to follow that. It seems so clear to me.”

In his ruling, Judge Binkley said he knew what CRT was and the photographs did not involve CRT. “That does not even come close, in my humble opinion, to critical race theory, which I believe should not be taught. Ever,” he said.


Many people don’t know what CRT is, and some lawmakers who have written laws banning its teaching don’t all know what it’s about either. This is just the latest chapter in the CRT wars across America and the newest chapter in a movement of parents and lawmakers telling public schools what they can and can’t teach students. It is part of a movement to destroy public schools by planting seeds of distrust in educators’ ability to make decisions involving the education of American students.

Judge Binkley wrote in this case, regarding what to teach students, “Instead of telling them what to do, let them use their minds and decide.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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