Image Credit: Empowered Jefferson
By David Seal [Special to The Tennessee Conservative] –
Citizens often assume nothing can be done about taxes, zoning, or left-leaning ideology in our public schools. Empowered Jefferson tackles issues of public policy head-on and aims to advise others on how to be more active in shaping it.
“Knowing what’s wrong with our systems in government and how to address and instruct government officials are key things people need to understand. Empowered Jefferson seeks to inform the people then we empower our community to act and make changes that will matter.” – Empowered Jefferson Leadership
The group joins a long list of public interest citizen groups that have formed around the nation to influence policy and inform the public about critical issues. Recruiting and vetting candidates to run for office, promoting constitutional principles, and advancing moral values are all part of their mission. The full text of their mission statement is linked here.
Such groups claim that mainstream media only provides slanted coverage on critical issues including fiscal responsibility, taxes, education, property rights, and business development.
“If you want something to change around here, you cannot wait on the media to enlighten the taxpaying public. You must tackle issues on your own and fight the swamp of bureaucrats, governing boards, and elected officials with information, activism, and public awareness. Nothing happens on its own; and too few decision makers do their homework. Sometimes citizens have to do it for them and make recommendations.” – Michelle Light, Empowered Jefferson
“It [education] is not just about the three R’s [academics] anymore, we are largely social services as well” – Dr. Shane Johnston (meeting video link here, time stamp 45:40-46:00)
Survey questions about gender, religious beliefs, personal health, illicit drug use, prescription medication, relationships, and divorce are raising concerns about the appropriateness of asking ten-year-old children to divulge deeply personal family information. Two parents in the organization have asked the Jefferson County School Board to terminate student surveys entirely, a practice they characterize as “data mining”. One member of Empowered Jefferson is especially concerned about the content of surveys. She too has contacted the school board via email and addressed them in-person at meetings.
“I moved my family away from Pennsylvania to Tennessee to get away from WOKE policies and the liberal agenda in our schools. I didn’t want my kids to be indoctrinated by left-leaning practices at school or exposed to data mining. It was a shock to see that social emotional learning and left-leaning ideologies are alive and well in Jefferson County Schools.” – Dawn Mayer, Parent
Empowered Jefferson, as part of their mission, is providing opt-out forms that parents can use to shield their children from student surveys. Federal law, under the Protection of Pupil Rights Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232h, provides the right of parents to opt their children out of surveys. Students may also opt-out of surveys on their own under the same code. Opt-out forms for parents can be obtained at the link provided here.
If parents fail to provide opt-out instructions to school officials, or students are not advised they can opt-out on their own, surveys may be administered to students under the doctrine of “passive consent”.
*Note: This article originally appeared in The Jefferson County Post. Republished here due to submission by the author.
David Seal is a retired Jefferson County educator, recognized artist, local businessman, 917 Society Volunteer, and current Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. He has also served Jefferson County as a County Commissioner and is a lobbyist for the people on issues such as eminent domain, property rights, education, and broadband accessibility on the state level.