“You Can’t Teach That!”: Prohibited Concepts in Instruction in Public Schools

On May 23, 2021, Tennessee passed a law banning 14 concepts in instruction that appear to significantly limit how educators can teach students on issues of race, class, gender disparities, and privilege in public school classrooms. How will this law be implemented? How will it impact the quality and scope of teaching? What relationship, if any, does it have to Critical Race Theory?

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute at the University of Memphis will host a Facebook Live event — “You Can’t Teach That!: Prohibited Concepts in Instruction in Public Schools” — on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. with scholars and community leaders weighing in on this critical topic. The event can be viewed on the Hooks Institute’s Facebook page.

Panelists for the event are Dr. Courtney Mauldin (assistant professor of teaching & leadership in the School of Education at Syracuse University), Cardell Orrin (Tennessee executive director for Stand for Children), and Daphene McFerren (Hooks Institute executive director). Andre E. Johnson (UofM associate professor in the Department of Communication and Film) will moderate.

This event continues the community conversation started by the Hooks Institute on Facebook Live in June that addressed “Critical Race Theory: What it is and What It Isn’t.”

About Courtney Mauldin 

Dr. Courtney C. Mauldin began her career as a K-4 elementary educator specializing in teaching methodologies that support multilingual learners and later served as a literacy interventionist. While teaching in the classroom, she cultivated professional learning communities for teachers that focused on developing culturally responsive classrooms and building a culture of belonging for all students. After her time in the classroom, she continued to train and develop pre-service teachers and school leaders in culturally responsive pedagogy and achieving socially just outcomes in schools. Mauldin received her Ph.D. in K-12 Educational Administration with a specialization in Urban Education at Michigan State University. She is currently an assistant professor of teaching & leadership in the School of Education at Syracuse University.

About Cardell Orrin

Cardell Orrin is the Tennessee executive director for Stand for Children. Orrin has a passion for serving the community and has led efforts as a founding board member of the Hattiloo Theatre, Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, and the Benjamin Hooks Institute for Social Change Advisory Board. Orrin co-founded New Path — a local political action committee focused on engaging young people in the political process and electing solutions-oriented candidates to office. He continues service as board chair for Freedom Preparatory Academy and serves on the boards of the Hattiloo Theatre, Overton Park Conservancy, and Zion Community Project. He has been honored by the Apr. 4 Foundation with their Trailblazer Award. Orrin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Computer Science with additional African American Studies and Entrepreneurial Management studies.

About Le’Trice Donaldson  

Le’Trice Donaldson is an assistant professor of African American and U.S. history at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a Hooks Academic Research Fellow. She earned her Ph.D. in African American History from the University of Memphis and her BA and MA from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her research centers on the lives of African Americans in the military and how gender and masculinity help (re)shape the narrative of the Black military experience.

About Daphene McFerren 

Daphene R. McFerren, the executive director of the Hooks Institute, has built alliances with local and national institutions, businesses, and community organizations to advance the Hooks Institute’s mission of eradicating racial, social, economic, and other disparities in Memphis and nationally. McFerren has significant expertise in navigating statutory and regulatory environments. She was as a practicing attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, trial attorney, Federal Programs Branch (Washington, DC); Assistant United States Attorney, District of Maryland (Greenbelt, MD); counsel to the then-Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno (Washington, DC); and senior counsel, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (Washington, DC). In Dec. 2016, McFerren was named one of the “100 Women to Watch in the United States” by BizWomen’s (a publication of the Business Journals).

Andre E Johnson

About Andre E. Johnson 

Andre E. Johnson, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Communication and the Scholar in Residence at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute at the University of Memphis. He teaches classes in African American Public Address, Rhetoric, Race, Religion, and Interracial Communication. Johnson is the author of “The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition” (Lexington Books, 2012), the co-author (with Amanda Nell Edgar, Ph.D.) of “The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter” (Lexington Books, 2018) and the author of “No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner” (University Press of Mississippi, 2020).

About the Hooks Institute 

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education, and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues, implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums, and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. For more information, visit our website here.