Teach Your Children Well


11-20-Article-1Following the horrific attacks on 9/11, I began to ask, like most Americans, what happened to our country.  As I researched and talked to experts, the issues of radical Islam and the attacks on America and Israel became extremely personal to me.  In response, I founded Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Christians about their biblical responsibility to stand with and for the people and land of Israel. I established PJTN as a powerful Christian voice for Israel in the media using my years of experience in broadcasting and film. Christians were for the most part silent during the first Holocaust — I believe we cannot be silent again.

Little did I realize I would be fighting anti-Semitism in my very own backyard. For the last twenty-five years, we have resided in Williamson County, TN, a county with a long tradition of being one of the top ten most conservative counties in the U.S; a county in the very center of the Bible belt; a county where Christians should not stand by in silence. I discovered that behind our backs, a liberal school board agenda had taken hold and was indoctrinating our children. Several controversial incidents and troubling educational materials have been cause for great alarm.

Anti-Semitism in a Pearson Published Textbook

In November of 2012, a concerned Williamson County parent contacted PJTN about a controversial human geography textbook (The Cultural Landscape) being used in her son’s high school.  The immediate problem involved a section under the title, “Terrorism by Individuals and Organizations,” that asks students to consider the following question on why terrorism has increased: 

“If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions?”

During the same class, an anti-Israel handout and a guest speaker influenced her son to question his faith and the accuracy of the Bible concerning Israel and her rights to her ancient homeland. This led to the concerned parent contacting me. It was also discovered that another student had remarked that “had he not taken the class, he wouldn’t have known about the dangerous Zionist agenda.”

Meetings with the school’s faculty led nowhere, so I filed an official complaint with the school district requesting the textbook’s removal due to the highly objectionable statement. With the help of several parents, nearly a dozen other objectionable passages, descriptions and word choices were also found in the book.  Not only was the textbook anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, but it was replete with anti-Christian, anti-Western and pro-Marxist propaganda as well.

Despite gathering over 1,300 signatures protesting the book, other parents’ outcries, and repeated school board meetings, Williamson County Schools Director, Mike Looney, encouraged the board to vote to continue using the book. Looney defended the use of this textbook because it had been used for several years with no one ever filing a formal complaint. He further stated, “I personally don’t get that anti-Semitic perspective from reading the question in context. I respect other people’s viewpoints and understand they might read it differently.”  He also felt that one passage in a 500-page book could not justify discontinuing its use.

The Nashville Jewish Federation supported PJTN’s leadership on this matter and agreed that the textbook needed to be removed and issued this statement:

“To create moral equivalency between specific acts of terror and legitimate territorial disputes  that are political in nature serves to legitimize wanton and premeditated violence against innocent civilian victims. To further allow distorted, unbalanced and prejudicial content to stand as a form of academic inquiry is a perversion of our educational system and a disservice to all the children who learn in that system.” 

- Mark Freedman

Jewish Federation Executive Director

In October 2013, I took the issue to the Tennessee State Legislature where my advocacy against anti-Semitism is well recognized among the state’s legislators.  In a state that has passed several strong pro-Israel resolutions, legislators shared my concern about the material being presented to students. I testified before the Tennessee Senate Education Committee to address their concerns about this textbook material.  This testimony was instrumental in the Tennessee legislature introducing bills this year related to textbook issues.

The Double Standard in the Williamson County School District

Mr. Looney and other county officials refuse to acknowledge the detrimental effect of textbook and curriculum materials containing subtle and not-so-subtle expressions of anti-Semitism and Jew hatred. Under his leadership, the doctrine of anti-Semitism has permeated into the students and faculty of the school district.

For example, in September 2013, two male students at a Williamson County Middle School stood at the front of my car giving me a “Heil Hitler” salute in response to a “Defend and Protect America and Israel” bumper sticker on my vehicle.   After contacting the school’s principal to make her aware of the incident, it was discovered that the students were from nearby Ravenwood High School.  Despite identification of the students from viewing the school’s security camera tape, no action has been taken to address this incident. To date, my request regarding disciplinary action continues to go unanswered by Ravenwood’s principal.

This is the same high school that in 2009 permitted a Palestinian Arab booth at the school’s Cultural Heritage Fair to distribute venomous anti-Semitic propaganda. The “Arab-Palestinian” booth was displaying anti-Israel hate propaganda that included “doctored” pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting babies and the security fence labeled as an “apartheid wall.”

This year, during the school’s Cultural Heritage Week, Muslim students claimed offense because of a pamphlet that was being distributed by a local Jewish organization at the event.  The pamphlet contained accurate information about the anti-Semitic hatred that is taught to children in U.S. funded Palestinian schools. The double standard and hypocrisy at Ravenwood High School and the school district at-large should outrage students and parents.  

The pamphlet in question was published by “StandWithUs (SWU), an organization that is dedicated to publishing accurate educational information about the Arab – Israeli conflict for use in a high school/university environment.  On a page that describes the problem in the Arab culture under, “Teaching Peace,” it describes the incitement to hatred and violence against Israel and Jews that is pervasive in Arab/Palestinian media, schools, and mosques.  “In fact, it is this incitement that disturbed then Senator Hillary Clinton in 2007, and that continues to disturb peace makers because the incitement leads to violence and has always been an obstacle to peace,” stated Roz Rothstein, President of SWU.

The truth is that this particular pamphlet is entirely educational and appropriate for this event.  It is PJTN’s opinion that in Williamson County and at a school like Ravenwood, where anti-Semitic incidents have occurred and anti-Semitic textbook materials have been found, this educational pamphlet, should be required reading. To provide accurate information about the conflict in the Middle East should be welcomed in the “educational” environment of a high school. Accurate and unbiased resources about the Middle East allow our children to use their critical thinking skills concerning this ongoing conflict. 

Double Standards and Double-Speech

This situation leads me to ask the question: what are we teaching the immigrants that come to Tennessee, especially from the Middle East?  Israel is our only true friend and ally in the Middle East.  We, as a Judeo-Christian nation, share the same values of freedom and faith as our Jewish brethren in Israel.  It is that freedom that allows people of all faiths and nationalities to live without fear of persecution not only in our country, but in our county as well. It is critical that we provide accurate and unbiased textbooks to the immigrants that make Williamson County their home. I fear if we do not, we may find similar horrific justification for terrorist attacks here.

Finally, as a result of this whole issue, a deeper-rooted problem has surfaced.  What does it say about our local leaders when school officials will censor pamphlets with accurate information that Muslims find offensive but refuse to remove inaccurate anti-Semitic/anti-Israel and anti-Western textbooks at the request of Christian and Jewish parents?  

This obvious double standard must not stand unchallenged and must be dealt with at the voting booth.  This growing threat further illustrates how critically important local elections are, especially when those elected leaders will be influencing the future direction of our nation.  With elections quickly approaching, I hope more Williamson County citizens will join me in some crucially needed “spring cleaning” on this school board, which refuses to uphold the values of the citizens of this great county.

Ironically, as a result of the national and international media attention generated by PJTN, Pearson Publishers agreed with the parents and removed the anti-Semitic quote from future editions of the Human Geography textbook. This is certainly a small and important victory, but the battle continues.

To save our country, we must retake it one small county, one small election at a time. As we have slept, the progressive agenda has penetrated every strata of our government and our educational system. It is a long road ahead but we can no longer afford not to walk it.

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  • StanleyT

    Thank you for your courage, wisdom and perseverance. We need strong friends like you and we appreciate everything you are doing to protect Israel and her people.

    • lyndaaquarius

      so many of us sincerely thank you.

  • 1Indioviejo1

    You are an inspiration to the silent majority in this country, a role model for young people every where, and and unquestionable leader in your community. I believe you should run for President of you school board.

  • Guest

    If you think that the schools are teaching your children anything of value you are woefully misinformed, delusional, or part of the group making sure your kids are being indoctrinated rather than educated.
    Been there, seen that, know that.
    Either know where your School Board members stand on the issues of education vs indoctrination or turn your children against all that is good, right, and just. And when you’re finished removing the those hate-mongers from your Boards, have the new Boards re-write all re-employment contracts to contain specific steps regarding the teachers themselves. One warning about politicizing or political activity/comments in their classrooms or to their pubils- a warning given and an official reprimand is permanently affixed to their professional records. A second requires a disciplinary hearing and a removal, for cause, from their classrooms. Permanently.
    There is simply NO place for political dommentaries or indoctrinal behavior in ANY classrooms in ANY public schools.
    To prevent them from saying ” I’m just teaching from the text!”, have a group of parents review ALL texts for political comments, commentaries. If it is in a text not specifically designed for the proper student group using it, the text should be summarily denied useage in the district, with a letter stating why to the publisher. The same should be done for ACCURATE and FACTUAL content in EVERY text. The problems arise because their is not an equal balance of information, but that much of what is fed your kids simply isn’t factual or true.
    DOUBT ME! Get a bunch of texts from your district and CHECK THEM OUT! I’ll bet a year’s salary that you WILL find mis- and misleading information in virtually ALL of them.
    I’m waiting to have you TRY and collect.

    • Erudite Mavin

      The text books are not just misleading but outright left wing propaganda and have been for many decades as well as the teachers from Kindergarten – 12 grade who teach the kids.
      The general public and that goes for a large per cent of conservatives look the other way because they find it easier than putting their kids in Parochial or Private Schools or even Charter Schools.

      • lyndaaquarius

        getting on your local school board is key. Grass roots decision making.

        • Erudite Mavin

          Hardly.
          Liberal teachers, left wing, text books, Neo Marxist Teachers Union in total control
          and that for starters.
          Before being in the legal field for many years I was also an administrator of a
          Parochial School, pre – 8th grade. I understand more than most about education
          and how Public Ed. is several decades of left wing propaganda and that will not
          stop.
          Those who keep their kids in Public Schools enable this agenda.
          Here in San Diego we have dozens of school districts.
          Just one of these districts here is the largest secondary school district in California.

  • Erudite Mavin

    Just a couple of comments here. Typical.
    Many parents don’t want to give up the big screen TVs, extra car, etc.
    to put their kids in a Parochial School or Private School, so don’t read the commentary and continue on the ignorant is bliss way of life.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you. I was told that for twenty plus years, all of the textbooks have been written by Marxists. From the top down, we have people not only putting up with Leftism, but they are giving it the thumbs up- and that includes teaching anti-Semitism in the schools. Everyone needs to become active in the politics of our schools. It is about teaching the truth to the future citizens of this country. Google “connect all schools and Qatar,” and you will see where some of it is coming from.

  • Lanna

    The Progressives are trying to dumb down our children, especially with Common Core that promotes evolution, and climate change. Many nations would like to blot out the fact that the Jews went through a holocaust, and there may be another one on the horizon. No government should be messing with the accurate history of the world to suit their agenda!

  • Craig Gorsuch

    Conservatives (Christian, Jewish and non-religious) and pro-West Capitalists need our own “long, slow march through institutions”. However, 100 years ago, we didn’t know the Leftists were doing so. Leftists will be looking for us