Rumor Mill - May 25, 2021

  • Rumor Mill

    Published May 25, 2021

    I have heard accusations that School Board members and some WCS staff have received “kick-backs” for purchasing the Wit and Wisdom reading curriculum. Is that true?

    No, that is not true. No WCS employee or School Board member received any financial incentive to select Wit and Wisdom. We are confident through our internal audit process that no financial incentives were received by the district.  

    There seems to be something “fishy” about the waiver you got so you could use this curriculum.

    The Wit and Wisdom curriculum was selected in April 2020 after completion of the review process established in School Board policy.  The process includes the formation of a textbook selection committee of teachers and parents from all WCS schools; the expectation that content area teachers review the State approved materials being considered; and community review sessions.  After receiving input from the groups, the textbook committee makes a recommendation to the School Board for approval. Board policies and the law that guide this process are TCA 49-6-2207 and Board Policy 4.401, Textbook Selection and Adoption and 4.402, Selection of Instructional Materials.  

    Wit and Wisdom was on the original State list for grades 3-5, but not for grades K-2 because it lacked a foundational skills component (phonics).  During the review process, the district learned that Wit and Wisdom K-2 could be used if it included a supplemental phonics component. WCS, along with many other districts, did apply to and receive a waiver from the Tennessee Department of Education to use Wit and Wisdom at the K-2 levels. It is not uncommon for school districts to ask for waivers as shown in this document:

    And is it also true that the theme of Wit and Wisdom is to teach Critical Race Theory?

    We have not found Critical Race Theory in Wit and Wisdom. There are more than 120 books that support the curriculum, and the lessons that accompany those books are taught across six grade levels. Each lesson has a theme and some include history and historical documents, but WCS is not teaching Critical Race Theory.

    As with all new adoptions, during the first year of implementation, the district’s curriculum specialists have been collecting feedback, both positive and concerning, regarding some of the books being used. Modifications to content and materials have been made as needed. The district’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment team will present additional information regarding Wit and Wisdom and any instructional adjustments being made or recommended during the Board’s work session on June 17.

    The purpose of this section is to answer any questions parents, teachers or community members might have regarding the school district and to set the record straight in regards to any rumors that might be circulating. If you have a question or have heard a rumor that you would like for us to address, simply EMAIL US your questions and we will respond to them in upcoming issues of InFocus.