Actually, yes, he did! House Speaker Cameron Sexton has appointed the controversial leader of an anti-Muslim advocacy group to the State Textbook Commission.
Cari Wade Gervin has more:
House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has recently appointed Laurie Cardoza-Moore to the Tennessee State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission. The appointment, which had been vacant since 2019, runs through June 30, 2022. It is unpaid but does cover travel expenses.
Cardoza-Moore is the head of the Franklin-based nonprofit, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), a Zionist organization that ostensibly fights anti-Semitism. While that might seem like a noble cause, PJTN’s tactics are really in support of a Christian return to Israel. They also happen to take a very anti-Muslim way to get there.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has deemed PJTN a hate group for its work, which include initiatives like “Stop Access Islam.” (This designation led Amazon to delist the group from its Smile program last year.)
State Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville weighed-in via Gervin:
“I don’t think we want to invite conspiracy theorists into leadership positions that require objectivity and discernment. Nor do we want to give hate speech a platform and bullhorn,” says Johnson, who serves on the House Education Committee and is a former public school teacher. “When I think about the thousands of Tennesseans who support public education and want to collaborate to make it better, it boggles the mind we would select someone who has gone on a crusade in the national media to malign public education.”
As Gervin notes, Cardoza-Moore’s appointment has not yet been approved. However, it’s unclear if enough House members will have the courage to challenge their fairly new Speaker. Sexton is generally well-respected and often thought to be a supporter of public schools. He opposed Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher scheme, for example.
Cardoza-Moore’s appointment to the Textbook Commission comes shortly after Gov. Bill Lee named former Rep. Bill Dunn to an advisory role in the Department of Education.
It seems the state’s leadership has spent the time after the recent election stockpiling key advisors who are openly hostile to the state’s public schools.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport