Why We Must Reject “Wit and Wisdom” Curriculum

After finding out my local district was piloting the Wit and Wisdom curriculum in the fall, I did what any good parent would do- researched to see what exactly my children would be learning.

Not surprisingly, my research turned up results pointing the curriculum to using “social-emotional learning”, which is the same as critical race theory.

Mom’s for Liberty was a great resource, and they have put tons of effort into breaking down what exactly is in the Wit and Wisdom curriculum.

The group even filed a complaint in Tennessee, stating the curriculum violated the state’s anti-critical race theory law.

A quick search on the internet will highlight many outspoken moms raging against its use for elementary children.

Below are some videos detailing the books taught to children as young as five years old.

Realizing that my children could be exposed to the “N” word, mating positions, derogatory slurs about Mexicans, and fear-based storylines, I knew I had to do something.

I decided to speak at my district’s board meeting this week, hoping to shed some light on this questionable curriculum and ask that our students not be guinea pigs with Wit and Wisdom.

Below is my statement:

In the board meeting on Tuesday, September 12, 2021, Dr. Kathy Gavin explained new curriculum and affirmed that critical race theory is NOT a part of the district’s curriculum. She stated critical race theory is not explicitly taught nor is it a state mandate.

Parents were made aware last week that in the fall, the district will be piloting a new ELA Curriculum that teaches children critical race theory. It is called Wit and Wisdom. If the board approves the use of the Wit and Wisdom curriculum, they are contradicting their promise to taxpayers and parents about the use of critical race theory in our schools.

Wit and Wisdom utilizes “social emotional learning”, which we all know is just another term for critical race theory. The curriculum uses books that highlight skin color and gender identity. One example of the books Wit & Wisdom uses is “Separate is Never Equal”, by Duncan Tonatium. Wit and Wisdom uses this book for second graders, but is actually at a 5th grade level based on Lexile levels. It is a courageous story about a Mexican family’s fight to have their daughter attend a “white” school in 1947. In the book, a sign can be seen by a community pool that says “No dogs or Mexicans allowed”. The teacher’s curriculum recommends the teacher focuses on the illustrations of the Mexican children sitting outside eating with flies swarming around them, implying they are “dirty” and equal to dogs. Why would we want to introduce young children to derogatory terms about Mexicans?  The pictures are unnecessary and inappropriate with which to tell this story of Civil Rights achievement. Sylvia Mendez indeed led an amazing fight to desegregate schools in California, and her story should be taught, but at an appropriate age. Of course, desegregation should be discussed, but to 7-year-olds like this? Why choose a book that is not at age level either? In second grade the focus should be on children learning to read independently- Especially when our district’s recent test scores have results depicting less than 30% of students scoring at grade level.

Another book the curriculum uses for 1st grade is called “Seahorse the Shyest Fish” by Christine Butterworth. Learning about seahorses should be fun and interesting, but when you dive into this book it shows graphic mating positions of the seahorses which are pretty equivalent to humans and highly inappropriate for 6-year-olds to see. The book also pushes the fact that only the male can get pregnant and birth seahorse babies. Here is an example from the book: “They twist their tales, the two of them dance until sunset when she puts her eggs in his pouch.” From the teacher’s manual, on page 243, the vocabulary for 1st graders focuses on the mating words in the book such as “twist, twirl, dance, and sway.” This is much too young of an age to be learning about the birds and the bees, and although those words are wonderful, they are not when they are attached to mating for this age group.

In Kindergarten, the curriculum pushes a book called “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears”, by Verna Aardema. Learning about mosquitoes isn’t inappropriate, but pushing a story about death, depression, and fear onto 5-year-olds is. This book includes a depressing storyline with dark imagery of angry animals that have snarls and sharp teeth. Here is an example from the book: “Mother Owl was not at home. For though she usually hunted only in the night, this morning she was still out searching for one more tidbit to satisfy her hungry babies. When she returned to the nest, she found one of them dead. Other children told her the monkey had killed it. All that day and all that night, she sat in her tree so sad.” The book shows pictures of an angry monkey grabbing the baby owl and taking it to be killed. Then, the book pushes the depression of the mother owl over the murder of her baby. If the story wasn’t strange enough for kindergarteners to focus on for many days, the teacher’s manual instructs students to “act out the illustration” of the monkey killing the owlet.

Why is the district piloting this curriculum?

There are so many beautiful books and lessons for children to learn. We cannot let our children be guinea pigs for the pilot curriculum Wit and Wisdom. I urge you to adhere to your promise that critical race theory is not taught in our district and reject the Wit and Wisdom Curriculum.

Thankfully, I just happened to be at a meeting where I was fortunate that the pilot program was casually discussed. Otherwise, I would have never known.

ALL curriculums should be made available for parents to review before being implemented.

Furthermore, it seems that schools are finding sneaky ways to teach children “critical race theory”, as Wit and Wisdom intends to do through English Language Arts.

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