By Corinne Murdock
A coalition of Peoria mothers descended on a Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board meeting last week to demand an end to critical race theory (CRT) influences in the classroom. Near the end of their public remarks, one mother warned the board members that if they didn’t eradicate CRT from PUSD, then parents would remove their kids.
“If not parents, I want you to know this: the first 100 days of the school year, you yank your kids out of this district. And you will bankrupt this district. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about money. And we all know it. So if they don’t do it, parents – first 100 days, take your kids out. It’s not worth what you will get if you let this go full circle. If you don’t believe me, go to California.”
That mother explained that she and her family fled California after CRT in their schools destroyed their communities. She said that she’d seen how, in real time, the “flowery names” of CRT, diversity, equity, and inclusion ruined schools.
“It has not a thing to do with equality. It has to do with payback. It turned our schools into war zones. [It] was insane – the ‘inclusion’ part was really great too – they break you up into little subcategories and they pit everyone against everyone. I lived it. My 21-year-old son is still dealing with the after-effects,” said the mother. “It is a nightmare. I moved to Arizona to get away from this, only to find it to take root here. And it is on your watch. You are to be the guardians of these people’s children. I don’t want their voices heard. I want their voices listened to. You remember, you had this chance to stop what people are running from. They say 240 Californians are coming here every day. And I can tell you why. It doesn’t work.”
Some mothers presented receipts: emails obtained from open records requests. Another mother documented an email exchange involving PUSD Social Studies Curriculum and Instructional Specialist Jen Mundy, which she reported was proof that teachers were being bribed by EverFi with $15 Amazon gift cards for teacher referrals.
As AZ Free News reported, EverFi is an online educational platform that specializes in social justice curriculum. In an email copy obtained by AZ Free News, one EverFi director did offer teachers $15 Amazon gift cards for each successful referral to another teacher. As we reported previously, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is one of EverFi’s top donors.
The mother also cited an email from an elementary school principal, which reportedly called parents “wackos” for challenging the curriculum.
“‘Parents are wackos with a platform to spread propaganda.’ Does the administration not view parents as partners?” asked the mother. “We elect you, school board members. We should be partnering together. We are entrusting our children to you for their education. Are you going to continue to condone administration speaking this way about parents? Why is the administration being told to silence parents? I will not be silenced. Parents will not be silenced.”
The mother also claimed that EverFi 306: Continuing Stories, a curriculum focused on African American history, was being paid for by the NFL and Arizona Cardinals. AZ Free News has been unable to verify that claim. EverFi markets its courses as free to K-12 educators.
That mother also brought up a survey administered to students by EverFi’s Diversity Foundations program called “Recognizing Privilege.” She said that it asked children private questions about their home life.
“This is a third-party vendor that is collecting personal data on our kids. Where is this data going and how will they use it?” asked the mother.
The mother then cited remarks made during the Arizona School Boards Association’s (ASBA) annual Equity Event, which she noted some PUSD board members attended.
“One of the guest speakers, Calvin Terrell stated that: ‘White privilege families abuse IEPs [individualized educational plans] for their kids to get into Ivy League Schools.’ I have three kids on IEPs who need these plans and services to succeed in school,” said the mother. “Because my kids are white, do they fall into this statement, President Sandoval?”
While she was on the subject, the mother took a moment to criticize the ASBA’s Equity Event. She challenged PUSD Board President David Sandoval for the content and nature of that event.
“The ASBA Equity Event tries to create a divide in America by trying to shame kids into apologizing [for] something they never were. We should be teaching our kids about seeing and valuing humanity, not colors,” said the mother. “David Sandoval, your actions speak louder than any statement you give.”
Another mother, Jodi Brackett, presented a passage printed in her son’s yearbook declaring that no lives mattered until black lives mattered. As she raised the book for the board to see, attendees gasped and booed.
“This […] should never be in any kid’s yearbook: ‘All lives won’t matter until black lives matter,’” read Brackett. “That is unacceptable. And I think everyone knows that all lives matter. And this should never be advertised in a yearbook.”
Brackett also noted that CRT shouldn’t be in schools because of its Marxist elements.
Another mother pleaded with the board members to stand strong and be leaders against CRT.
“Do not lose your authenticity in an attempt to be liked by the sick-minded who are trying to convert your schools into indoctrination factories,” said the mother. “You are also parents yourselves. It is impossible to believe that you will embrace for your own kids such [a] curriculum injected with hatred and adult content materials.”
The mother noted that she couldn’t discuss some of the curriculum because it was prohibited by board rules – though her son was learning about it in class.
“The Code of Conduct when addressing the board lists ‘no political views, no sexual content.’ So I, an adult, am not allowed in this forum, to bring for show-and-tell, pornographic material or talk about sexual orientations – but you are voting to give permission to the superintendent, to in turn give permission to [the] master of curriculum to do just that,” noted the mother.
She also pointed out that the board was being hypocritical by having police present at the meeting, though they allow EverFi educational content that promotes defunding the police through its teachings on Black Lives Matter (BLM). The mother’s point earned applause.
BLM’s call for police to be defunded, #DefundthePolice, gained traction last year after the death of George Floyd.
Another mother, Gina Blair, explained that CRT would only hurt children and divide the country further.
“What happened to looking at someone’s heart and character and judging them on that very important factor only? Isn’t that the one true way to be truly non-biased [sic] and not racist?” said Blair. “Please understand we elected you as board members
Blair explained that she was very well-versed in inclusion, considering her two school-aged children have severe disabilities, and that CRT wasn’t inclusion. She said that teaching inclusion had nothing to do with modifying history.
Watch the mothers’ full remarks here:
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to email@example.com.