Williamson County: Proposal to halt religion in curriculum in middle school meets opposition

Williamson County School Board meeting, October 26th at 6pm.You can show your support for WCS Board member, Dr. Beth Burgos.  The WCS Board meeting will be at the WC Administrative Complex, 1320 W. Main St., Franklin, TN 37064.

You will recall that we just had that wonderful, informative meeting in White County, a similar meeting took place in Bradley County. It is going on in other counties too.  Parents are getting informed and making their voices heard.  If you live in Williamson County you will want to take note and get involved.

You can read the Resolution HERE. If you live in Williamson County, you will want to contact the Board Members found HERE.

By Angie Mayes for the Williamson Herald Williamson Herald

Beth Burgos

Beth Burgos

A strong debate over the teaching of religious history at the Williamson County Board of Education work session Thursday night resulted in members loudly expressing their opinions.

Dr. Beth Burgos, 10th District, proposed a resolution about the teaching of religion, particularly Islam, pertaining to sixth and seventh grade students, to board members.

Burgos expressed her agreement with teaching history but stated she doesn’t believe that the religion section of curriculum, which explains the influence of certain religion on civilization, should be taught in middle school.

“Williamson County parents and taxpayers have expressed concerns that some social studies textbooks and supplemental materials in use in Tennessee classrooms contain a pro-Islamic/anti-Judeo Christian bias,” she wrote in the resolution. “Therefore, we the Williamson County School Board encourage the state to develop social studies standards that reflect Tennessee’s commitment to public education. We know that the standards serve as the basic for statewide assessments, curriculum frameworks and instructional materials, but methods of instructional delivery must remain the responsibility of local educators.”

She requested the following actions: that the state revise and clarify the social study standards; textbooks or supplemental instructional materials in Tennessee classrooms reflect a balanced and equitable perspective; supplemental instructional materials should be unbiased; the textbooks and material should be made available to parents and taxpayers.

She also requested that, “no students shall ever be required as a qualification for graduation or statewide assessment to be tested on their knowledge of any religion.”

Tim Gaddis, assistant superintendent of teaching, learning and assessment, said the textbooks treat all religion fairly and no religion is pushed on any student.

In previous years, sixth grade students learned about the effects of religion on civilization and the seventh graders learned about geography. Now the world history section, including five of the world’s religions and how it affected civilization, is taught in sixth and seventh grade.

Sixth graders learn from early civilization to the fall of the Roman Empire, while seventh graders learn about the Byzantine Empire through the early exploration of the Americas.

The state plans to offer an academic standards review in January and parents and other concerned citizens are invited to comment on the social studies standards.

“The religion references make up a small part of the social studies,” Gaddis said. “There are no in-depth courses on religion.”

Burgos said she was concerned about the indoctrination of students in those grades.

“I see some inequality in the text,” Burgos said, noting there was nothing about the Holocaust in the text.

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