GOP Lawmaker Enraged By Daughter’s Homework: ‘Why Does a 4th-Grader Need to Learn About Race?’

Martin Daniel, a GOP state rep. from Knoxville TN, sent a scathing letter to the school board over his daughter's 4th-grade homework assignment on racism.

GOP State Rep. Martin Daniel from Knoxville, Tennessee is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Over the past few weeks all kinds of sad news headlines have emerged from the city he represents: Knoxville is fighting a massive opioid epidemic, law enforcement expressed alarm over the white supremacist group Aryan Nation emerging as the largest local gang, and Knoxville is also among the cities that have had the largest drops in lifespans among the poor.

But that’s not what unleashed Martin Daniel’s fury. Cari Wade Gervin from Nashville Scene reports the he is angry about his daughter’s homework.

In today’s issue of “Jeez, our state legislators really have nothing to do with their time,” we bring you the case of one Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville. Daniel is upset because he doesn’t approve of the homework his fourth-grade daughter was recently assigned at Sequoyah Elementary.

Here is the homework question that sparked Martin Daniel’s rage. How dare his daughter’s fourth-grade teacher force her to contemplate social injustice and our nation’s toxic history of racism at such a young age?

One day some time ago, a boy named Jack was doing homework. His mother began to examine Jack’s textbook. A puzzled look clouded her face. She noticed that the book was worn and missing a dozen pages.

The next day, she told the school’s principal that Jack deserved better materials. He agreed, but said that only schools in white districts got new texts. Schools in African American areas got old, damaged books.

So Jack’s mother met with a lawyer. They filed a legal case, claiming unequal and unfair treatment toward Jack. A judge decided that Jack’s mother was right. The board of education agreed to revise the system for providing materials to schools in the district.

Cari Wade Gervin made some inquiries about the homework that launched a tirade and explains in her article:

The passage is part of a cause and effect exercise, and students are asked to guess when the incident takes place, based on their class discussions. (According to a KCS fourth-grade teacher I contacted, the answer to that question is, “The story probably takes place in the early days of civil rights movement.” You know, before that whole Brown v. Board of Education case?)

In a scathing letter to the Knox County School Board dated April 19th — on his official letterhead from the state legislature! — Martin Daniel rakes them over the coals for trying to infect his innocent daughter with the plague of white guilt. After all, if we teach our children to see groups of people as victims, how can we ensure their continued victimhood?

What purpose is served by introducing lessons of social injustice to our young children via a course assignment in Reading? Are our children being taught to assume that everyone who has difficulties in life is a victim of oppression? Should those children who simply attend good schools feel guilty? Should those children who otherwise enjoy the benefits of their parents’ hard work and resulting success be made to feel guilty?

No doubt, our history, as that of other countries and people, includes many instances of injustice and oppression. However, it’s puzzling to me to see social justice scenarios included as part of a course unrelated to history or social studies.

I am concerned that this subject matter subtly, but unnecessarily, injects a dose of “social justice” into our impressionable youth. It teaches them, incidental to a Reading assignment, that America is a place of oppression, where certain classes of persons are commonly discriminated against, and that they have been a victim.

When Cari Wade Gervin called Rep. Martin Daniel out on his BS, he snapped:

“Why does a fourth grader need to learn about race?!”

Although Martin Daniel can’t raise his children in a plastic bubble, he’s got the next best thing: A custom-built $715,000 house in a tony neighborhood where his son and daughter get to attend a wealthy and mostly white school.

And, as it turns out, Gervin’s got plenty to say about that, too.

We’d ask what world Daniel has been living in, one in which he actually thinks that America is not a place of oppression, and not a place where discrimination still occurs every single minute of the day, but we already know the answer to that. Daniel lives in one of the wealthiest parts of Knoxville, in a custom-built house he and his wife bought for $655,000 in 2007, most recently appraised by the county at $715,500. He lives in a world where his daughter attends the wealthiest public elementary school in the district, one that had a grand total of nine black students and zero Latino students, out of 452, enrolled in the 2014-2015 school year. A school where 9.5 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged, compared to 40 percent of students in Knox County schools as a whole, and 57.9 percent of students in the state.

Rep. Martin Mc Daniel’s not the only right-whinger who’s whinging about this lesson.

As it turns out, Martin Daniel’s not the only one who’s up in arms over this. On May 5, The Blaze reported on a Florida parent who complained about the exact same lesson, which turns out to be part of the new Common Core curriculum. But of course, this parent’s concerns about the lesson are totally-not-racist. This father just found it “troubling” and “developmentally inappropriate.” Plus:

“It’s just a made-up story, it lacks concrete, fact-based information. We have so much history, why not use it?”

Now, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the Common Core — which many parents, teachers and students find confusing and obtuse — and with this massive taxpayer-funded windfall for Pearson and a handful of other huge educational publishers. But teaching kids about systemic racism and social injustice should not be one of them.

Here’s a photo of the worksheet via The Blaze with the lesson that provoked Rep. Martin Daniel’s righteous rage.

Knoxville, TN State Rep. Martin Daniel's angry about a worksheet like this.

Usually, when we see right-wingers from different parts of the country suddenly start harping on the same issue, there turns out to be some organized effort behind it. Sure enough, the conservative Breitbart writer Dr. Susan Berry complains about the exact same lesson on her blog Stop the Common Core. But this post is the one that offers more clues about the nature and source of the agenda behind Martin Daniel’s rant: Common Core A Part of Leftist Centralized Education Plan, Says Heritage Foundation Report.

Read Knoxville, TN State Rep. Martin Daniel’s scathing letter to the Knox County School Board.

Featured image: Martin Daniel via Facebook.

About Elisabeth Parker 147 Articles
Elisabeth Parker is a writer, editor mom, news and politics junkie, and recovering web designer. “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” -- Otto von Bismarck.