A member of the Tennessee Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission, Laurie Cardoza Moore, is this week issuing an open letter to Tennessee State’s Governor, Bill Lee, protesting the appointment of the newly announced Commissioner of Education.
Noted Cardoza Moore in her message:
“An article appeared on May 1, 2023, in Nashville’s newspaper The Tennessean detailing the hiring of a new Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Education, Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, who will replace Penny Schwinn on July 1st. My interest was immediately piqued because I serve on the Tennessee Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission, as well as my involvement in several Tennessee textbook review and adoption cycles over the last decade. I watch such leadership changes carefully since they often signal dramatic ideological and political developments in education.
This proves to be the case with the appointment of Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds by Gov. Bill Lee. What I learned after a few minutes of reading her resume alarmed me. Tennessee’s education system was about to come under the influence of both Gov. George Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush. This would mean Common Core; the antisemitic Critical Race Theory (CRT); Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC); Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI); Social-emotional Learning (SEL) and other such curricula would dominate the education ideology, regardless of the fact that Tennessee has laws and/or resolutions against these leftist curricula.
Since 2016, Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds has been Vice President of Policy for the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), an education agency launched by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2008 to pursue education policies which he believed improve student learning and lessen inequities. Until reading this article, I had never heard of this powerful education agency in Gov. DeSantis’ government. Its presence explains how Common Core and even CRT are still a part of Florida’s education system even though they have been banned by state resolution and/or law—dangerous for Florida education and certainly for Tennessee education. ExcelinEd promotes STEM education, which can be a valuable enhancement tool but can also be a tool of indoctrination. According to the American University School of Education, one of the misconceptions surrounding STEM education made very clear:
Myth: STEM Curriculums Are Only for Certain Students. STEM initiatives still face challenges from outmoded ideas held by some policymakers, parents, and teachers concerning gender and race as they relate to aptitude for subjects such as mathematics.
This is pure CRT with a weak attempt to disguise it!
The new Tennessee Commissioner is a Texan with an impressive employment history – impressive but also problematic. Reynolds specializes in assessment, accountability and school choice. She has previously served in federal positions as Deputy Legislative Director for then-Governor George W. Bush, Special Assistant in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs for U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Regional Representative for U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Chief Deputy Commissioner at the Texas Education Agency (TEA). She has a background of being entrenched in bureaucracy. Tennessee will now have the link to the Bush Governors and Common Core and to the TEA and CRT. Another bureaucrat in education is the last thing Tennessee parents and citizens want for our children. Just look at the education battle in Tennessee between parents and citizens over the last decade.
What struck me the most is the information I found online pertaining to Reynolds’ advanced studies at the Pahara Institute.
Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds is pursuing advanced studies in Education Leadership from the Pahara Institute. When one reads the defined Mission of the Pahara Institute, found on its website, it is clearly one of CRT, BLM, DEI, SEL and Ethnic Studies with its emphasis on POC.
Pahara Institute’s Commitment to Equity to quote: While we are committed to eradicating all types of inequity, we center issues of race and racism as first order priorities. Our focus on race and racism is both moral and strategic. Morally, given our country’s history with race and racism, we believe we are bound to prioritizing solutions to this particular form of injustice. Strategically, we believe that building the collective muscle to overcome racism will leave us best positioned to eradicate all forms of inequity in society. It has been posited that centering race is insufficient as a means to fighting inequity and that centering and prioritizing wealth, or economic equity would, in fact, be the greatest lever for positive change. Given the disproportionate economic outcomes in America based on race, we adhere to a different theory and order of operations. We believe that eradicating racism is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do in service of economic equity.
To suggest that Americans are racist in 2023 because of our history is outrageous! We, the majority of our society, have overcome that ideology. We elected a Black president; we have a Black Supreme Court Justice; we have Black, Asian, Hispanic and Jewish leaders and on and on and on… Are there pockets of hate, racism and antisemitism? Absolutely! Is it systemic? Absolutely not! This type of ideology does not promote what Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed, I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, it only serves to fuel that hatred, pitting one person of a different skin color against another.
This is the nightmare facing Tennessee. An antisemitic, racist education system which teaches that America embodies systemic racism and social and financial inequity and calls for Socialism-Communism and the fair distribution of wealth. And what is missing in this discussion? Ensuring that our children can read, write, add and subtract. The basics any child needs to be successful in life. But instead, Ms. Reynolds has no credentials for ensuring that.”
Cardoza Moore’s message to Governor Lee concluded with a call to action:
“I am calling on parents and citizens across the state to contact their state senators and representatives to demand that Gov. Lee appoint an Education Commissioner from Tennessee that reflects the values of the people in Tennessee, someone like Dr. Beth Meyers who is highly credentialed. Tennessee moms and dads want a traditional/classical approach to education and Dr. Meyers can deliver that. We want the basics to be taught. We do not send our children to Tennessee classrooms to be indoctrinated with seeds of hate, immoral character, gender confusion and disinformation.
In closing, I have one final question for Governor Lee. Why would you sign a bill into law banning the antisemitic CRT curriculum, only to hire an expert in it? That makes no logical sense, except and unless, Bill Gates’ $34 million dollars paid not only for Penny Schwinn’s salary, but Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, as well. Inquiring parents and citizens want an explanation. Governor Lee, after the Penny Schwinn appointment, are you incapable of appointing a qualified Education Commissioner—one that represents the majority interests and values of the State of Tennessee? All concerned must voice the demand that our elected representatives stand up and represent We the People and our interests, the interest of our children and the interests of this Republic.”
Laurie Cardoza Moore has served in her appointment to the Tennessee Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission since 2021.