Dr. Beth Burgos’ Policy Amendment Is a Common Sense Way to Protect WCS

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What we thought was something that our school board could finally agree on—a common sense way to ensure our kids don’t receive instruction from people with ties to terrorist groups— sparked fireworks Monday night at the Williamson County Schools’ policy committee meeting.

WCS Board Member Beth Burgos

Beth Burgos

WCS Board Member Dr. Beth Burgos proposed a policy amendment that would prohibit any organization from providing supplemental instructional material that has known ties to terrorist groups, defined as “any Foreign Terrorist Organization as designed by the United States Department Of State.”

The amendment is narrowly focused, stating, “An ‘organization with known ties to terrorist groups’ is one comprised of or including members who have, in a court of competent jurisdiction, been convicted of or found to be conspirators in providing material support to terrorist organizations.”

Why would anyone be against that?

Yet, shockingly, when it came to doing their job as school board members to represent parents, students and teachers in ensuring that schools in Williamson County don’t use supplemental instructional material from groups with known connections to terrorists, the board was split.  Now, as we understand it, the amendment will go to executive committee. Regardless of what is decided there, we have a feeling the issue isn’t going away.

The committee members who voiced opposition to creating such a policy to safeguard our teachers and students are Jay Galbreath, Anne McGraw and Ken Peterson. Board members Gary Anderson and Bobby Hullett also expressed opposition to Dr. Burgos’ amendment.

As bad as this opposition is for our community, Mr. Hullett reached a new low by claiming that Dr. Burgos said she hates Muslims, a charge Dr. Burgos flatly denies.

She no doubt takes great offense to such irresponsible words—as should all the other board members.

As a committed Christian who puts her beliefs into practice, Dr. Burgos follows the command of Jesus to love all people regardless of their race, ethnicity or beliefs. To claim otherwise, as Mr. Hullett did, raises serious questions about his professed faith, judgment, credibility and stability.

Mr. Hullett is an immature, classless act. He needs to immediately present credible evidence to back up his charge against Dr. Burgos or publicly apologize to her.

It’s one thing to disagree on policy, but it’s an entirely different thing to make an unsubstantiated accusation that a fellow board member hates Muslims. This is not the first time Mr. Hullett has launched personal attacks against individuals on the board, and we can’t help but wonder why he is so nasty and disrespectful.

We are saddened by his outbursts and concerned about his lack of self-control, not to mention the very poor example his behavior sets for our children.

Dr. Burgos statement about why she proposed the amendment makes clear her intent and her unwavering support for truth in education. We think it deserves to be reproduced in its entirety for all to see:

Statement by Williamson County School Board Member Dr. Beth Burgos

Re Proposed Policy 4.402 Amendment

February 1, 2016

“The purpose of this amendment is to protect our students and teachers from terrorist influences in our schools. I am committed to truth in education—which is essential for critical thinking skills—and believe it is vitally important that all teaching in our schools be fair, accurate, and as free from religious or political bias as possible.

“It is well documented that at least one group with known ties to terrorism, as defined in the amendment, has attempted to infiltrate classrooms in Tennessee. It would be foolish not to be proactive against a known threat like this. As school board members, we have a fiduciary duty to be vigilant in guarding against backdoor attempts to undermine historical accuracy and influence our children with biased material that distorts reality.

“While there is a mechanism in place for reviewing and vetting textbooks, there is no such oversight for supplemental materials. This amendment provides definitive criteria for our teachers to help them identify inappropriate sources for supplemental instructional material.

“Unfortunately, this threat has manifested itself in other parts of our country, and at least one lawsuit has been filed against a high school in Maryland for alleged indoctrination using similar materials as exist in Tennessee. To fail to address this threat would leave our school district vulnerable to a similar lawsuit, which could prove costly to taxpayers.”

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God help us if something as reasonable as this creates division and charges of hate.

In his Iowa speech Monday night, Ted Cruz thanked “courageous conservatives” for making his victory possible. It’s time for courageous conservatives in Williamson County to get engaged in this fight for the very soul of our community.

Beth Burgos has taken the lead in trying to protect our schools, and she and the others whose comments were in favor of a policy to safeguard our teachers and students—Candy Emerson and P.J. Mezera (both on the policy committee) and board members Dan Cash and Susan Curlee—deserve our full support and gratitude.