The website Williamson Strong, say the people behind it, delivers only news about the Williamson County School System. Others say it’s a front for unions, who use the site to smear and slander local conservatives.
Williamson Strong, some say, has bullied several critics into silence, as it rails against vouchers and refers to people who disapprove of the way the school teaches about Islam as bigoted and small-minded.
Two people who disapprove of the site won’t talk without consulting a lawyer, and three others familiar with Williamson Strong said it destroys reputations, and they wouldn’t talk on the record. Williamson Strong, another said about speaking out, might hire a detective to dig up dirt on them.
The website and its Facebook page carry the slogan “Strong Schools, Strong Communities,” as does other left-wing teachers’ unions across the country, said Williamson County businessman Don Beehler.
Media Trackers says labor unions are responsible for the Strong Schools movement.
Another woman reportedly involved with the group, Susan Drury, is a campaign consultant for the Service Employees International Union.
The Williamson Strong Facebook page says the group has no comment for this story.
Drury, meanwhile, did not return a voicemail left at her home this week.
“The Strong Schools, Strong Communities movement is right out of the Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals playbook, and I believe it is one of the worst things that has ever happened to our community,” Beehler said.
“Initially, Williamson Strong caught us off guard by their confrontational style and personal attacks.”
The group, he said, “tries to demonize, intimidate and silence those who disagree with them” and “blame, shame and mock people who have other points of view.”
Williamson Strong, Beehler said, wasn’t being truthful when, for instance, it reported he was part of an effort to oust School Superintendent Mike Looney.
In an email to Tennessee Watchdog, Williamson County School Board member PJ Mezera said Williamson Strong defamed him on its website, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
Reportedly, several people in the county are nervous about how students learn about Islam.
Last year, National Review quoted a Williamson County middle school student who said his curriculum taught Islam as a peaceful religion. The same article said textbooks in nearby Maury County teach that, too, and that Christians are flawed people.
When concerned members of the community held a town hall meeting in December to discuss the issue, Williamson Strong labeled the event an “anti-Muslim Holiday Inn Hatin’ Hootenanny.”
Williamson Strong says people who object to the teachings are in “a campaign of fear, wrapped in bigotry, inside of ignorance.”
Beehler said there’s more to the story.
“I personally don’t know anyone who is opposed to teaching Islam or any other world religions in our public schools; however, people want what is taught to be historically accurate and balanced.”
Mezera said he can’t find any information about the group’s funding or leadership structure.
“Somebody is paying for their social media apparatus and publications. It is very confusing how they receive funding or make decisions as an organization or who is directing their organization.”
Williamson County School System spokeswoman Carol Birdsong had no comment on the group, other than to say, “We value all parents whom we are privileged to serve.”
Mezera phrased his words more bluntly.
“Anyone who moves here should come with the expectation of conforming to our Williamson County and Southern ways of doing things, not the other way around,” Mezera said.
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