You get what you vote for
A school board in a district relatively close to yours truly flipped its ideological majority from conservative to progressive last month, and its new president showed you by taking the oath of office on a stack of “contested” books.
The newly progressive Central Bucks County board member/now-president (who actually was reelected), chose titles such as “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” “Lily and Dunkin,” and “Flamer” for her oath.
Education Week naturally uses the “conservatives seize!!” narrative to describe the last title. Instead of (accurately) noting the book is sexually explicit, it says “Fox News and other conservative news outlets were quick to note […] it contains descriptions of sex and depictions of nudity.”
Never mind such a book could be made available to minors; Smith said a non-binary student noted the book “saved their life” and made them “feel less alone.” (Odd, then, that “Flamer” was the only book in the oath stack that Smith hasn’t read.)
Worse, Smith poo-pooed concerns over “Genderqueer,” arguably much more explicit than “Flamer,” saying parents “open it up to the page where there is a dildo blow job, but they don’t talk about the rest of the book or what the book is even about.” (Fact check: It’s not a dildo, but even it was — why should this be available to kids?? She obviously hasn’t opened up this book, either.)
Smith also included in her oath stack Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s “Night” because a Central Bucks librarian got into hot water for hanging up a quote from the author.
The quote reads “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Interestingly, Central Bucks at some point in the last two months removed a statement about Israel from its website. According to Google, the statement began with “By now, we’ve all seen or heard about the absolutely horrifying events unfolding in Israel and the Gaza strip. What is happening there is unspeakable; the … ” No cache appears to available for the entire message.
So “we must always take sides” — on which side is Smith in this current conflict?
Four days after Hamas’ deadly assault against Israel on October 7, Rethinking Schools put up an editorial claiming “The bloodshed of today and the past 75 years traces back directly to U.S. complicity in the oppression and horror caused by Israel’s military occupation. The U.S. government consistently enables Israeli violence and bears blame for this moment.”
Over the last month, Smith and her new liberal board majority quickly took steps to overturn previous policies such as a ban on textbooks and materials containing “sexualized content” (they could be “difficult to interpret and apply”), and a prohibition on employees using “speech, conduct, or symbols to support or oppose a particular point of view or belief about partisan, political, or social policy issues or matters.”
The latter came about partly because previous policy forbade the hanging of LGBTQ pride flags. Smith had mocked the policy as “disrespectful and demeaning” to teachers, adding (rather naively) “I trust our teachers to handle all topics in a balanced manner.”
The new majority also overturned a district ban on transgender girls competing on (biological) girls sports teams. Apparently the president and her peers feel as Megan Rapinoe — that your daughter’s sports teams “just aren’t that important.”
Smith claimed she used to be a Republican but her “party allegiance began to fray” over issues like masking in schools, district COVID policy and critical race theory. She said district residents had “approached her with cable news stories” about CRT, worried that schools were “telling white kids it’s not OK to be white.”
‘That’s not true,’” she told them. “I’m telling you that doesn’t happen here, and you’re not believing me.”
We will see how Smith and Co. made out in a couple of years. That’s how democracy works, after all.
Nevertheless, in the meantime you can bet folks like School Board Partners founder and CEO Carrie Douglass won’t be offering up new thoughts on how to improve and “depoliticize” school boards — not when progressives are in charge. And since they’re back in charge, it’s also a safe bet that the federal Department of Justice will again be, er, “vigilant” about vocal conservative parents at school board meetings.
IMAGE: Chris Stigall/X