From the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to local school board positions, several conservatives are currently leading or have already won key races on the education front in the 2022 General Election.
As of press time, Republican candidate for SPI Tom Horne had increased his lead in his challenge of incumbent Kathy Hoffman. Horne previously served as SPI from 2003 to 2011, prior to successfully running for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. If the results hold up, Horne says his focus as SPI will be on improving student performance and eradicating Critical Race Theory-based curriculum from Arizona’s public schools.
In the Peoria Unified School District race, Heather Rooks won a hard-fought and challenging race. Her efforts to expose the Social Emotional Learning-based policies and practices in the district eventually led her to request an injunction against an activist parent. As reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Rooks, a mother of four school-aged children, obtained the injunction based on threats from Democrat activist, Josh Gray.
Two other conservative candidates, Amy Carney and Carine Werner, secured seats on the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board. Their victories serve as a powerful repudiation of out-going Governing Board Member Jann-Michael Greenburg. Greenburg was sued by parents who accused him of trying to silence them after they exposed his secret Google Drive dossier on them. As AZ Free Newsreported in April, that dossier included a trove of political opposition research on parents, who opposed the district’s adoption of Social Emotional Learning and Critical Race Theory.
In the race for Flowing Wells School District Governing Board—an area known for being blue—conservative Brianna Hernandez Hamilton is currently holding on to one of two open spots. A mother of three very young children, Hernandez Hamilton ran with the slogan: “Parents + Teachers = Quality Education.”
Kurt Rohrs, a long-time education activist and frequent contributor to AZ Free News, won a spot on the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. Rohrs, like Horne, focused on improving student performance and eliminating the divisive Critical Race Theory from the district’s curriculum. Many see Rohrs’ presence on the board as an opportunity to restore calm to the district which had become the center of controversy thanks to out-going board member Lindsay Love.
In the race for Dysart Unified School District Governing Board, conservative Dawn Densmore was retained by voters. As current president of the board, Densmore successfully led the fight to end the district’s relationship with the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA). Jennifer Drake also won a seat on the board.
Sandra Christensen is set to win a seat on the Paradise Valley Unified School District Governing Board. Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid are in the lead for spots in Fountain Hills. Paul Carver should take a win in Deer Valley. Jackie Ulmer appears to have been successful in Cave Creek as well as Rachel Walden in Mesa and Chad Thompson in Gilbert. In the Higley Unified School District, conservative Anna Van Hoek also won a seat on the board.
In a tweet from earlier this week, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos summed up what many parents have been feeling over the past few years – left out. In response to the National Education Association’s claim that teachers “know better than anyone” what students need in the classroom, DeVos responded, “You misspelled parents.”
Several statutes that were passed by the Arizona legislature to reinforce parental rights in schools recently went into effect. The Chandler Unified School District Board (CUSD) was asked to vote on updates to their policies to conform to these state law changes.
Here are some of the new state laws that needed to be incorporated in district policies:
HB 2498 – Prohibits vaccination requirements for staff in order to work
HB 2453 – Prohibits masking requirements for staff in order to work
HB 2371 – Prohibits vaccination requirements for students in order to attend school
HB 2616 – Prohibits masking requirements for students in order to attend school
HB 2439 – Provides for parent’s access to a list of school library materials and a list of materials borrowed by their children. However, this law exempts libraries that are run jointly by school and municipal entities.
HB 2495 – Prohibits the referral of sexually explicit materials to students
HB 2161 –Provides for parent access to records that relate to their child and gives parents the right to file suit if the fundamental rights to raise their children are usurped
SB 1165 – Requires participation in school sports to be based on biological sex of the student and gives parents the right to file suit for injunctive relief
HB 2632 – Raises the passing grade requirement on the required civics exam from 60% to 70%, making it similar to the citizenship exam given to naturalized citizens.
HB 2325 – Provides for school time for remembrance of the September 11 terrorist attacks on or around that anniversary.
What happened during the board member comments section of the meeting was a stunning display of contempt for parents’ rights and for these legislative actions.
Board member Lindsay Love, who is unmarried and has no children, voted against complying with these state laws as a “conscientious objector.” This is an apparent contradiction to her oath of office to “… support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and Laws of the State of Arizona.” She then went on to imply that some recent student suicides are the fault of parents and that the district must somehow step in and save students from their parents’ cruel behavior. Ms. Love is not running for re-election.
Board member Lara Bruner, who is running for re-election, stated that “It is truly disheartening that some of the representatives in our legislature have decided to increase their control from the top,” seemingly oblivious to the fact that these legislative actions were made to address the concerns of parents.
Board member Joel Wirth expressed that he was “very disappointed in the legislature in its efforts to micromanage school districts and force their political beliefs on the district,” apparently dismissing parental concerns as irrelevant.
Board President Barbara Mozdzen refrained from comment.
Whose Children Are they?
Does the CUSD Board really support parents’ rights as protected by state law?
Not one board member stepped forward to defend the stated policy that “parents ultimately direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children.” This is the long-standing policy of the State of Arizona as codified into law in A.R.S. 1-601 and A.R.S. 1-602.
It is unclear why CUSD Board members are so dismissive of parents and their concerns, and of the direction from the Arizona legislature. This appears to be the attitude of several school districts around the valley where a parent’s rights to raise their own children are routinely suppressed in violation of several statutes described in the Arizona Department of Education’s Parental Rights Handbook.
New School Board Leadership Needed
That’s why it is time for new, more responsive, leadership on school boards throughout the state. Please vote on November 8 for new school board members that truly respect parents and their rights to raise their own children.
Kurt Rohrs is a candidate for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. You can find out more about his campaign here.
Public schools are out of control. And it’s going to get worse if we don’t do something about it. Unfortunately, for far too long, school board elections have been some of the most ignored around our state. But whether you have kids in public school, private school, or homeschool—whether your kids are out of school or you don’t have kids at all—this year’s school board election will affect you.
How? Take a look at some of the worst abuses in public school districts in the past year.
A Financial Mess
As a taxpaying citizen, you probably care a lot about where your dollars go. But most school districts don’t share your same concerns. Mesa Public Schools (MPS) is one of them. Back in March, MPS failed to explain where over $32.3 million of their federal emergency funds slated for COVID-related expenditures went—which should’ve resulted in an audit by the State of Arizona.
Tensions escalated during the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) regular meeting on Wednesday over discussions of funding school resource officers (SROs).
Governing Board member Lindsay Love exhibited signs of a meltdown after fellow board member Joel Wirth expressed discomfort over her opposition to SROs. Love wanted the board to present more metrics and plans to the public for SROs before adding more of them on campuses. She cited the recent mass shootings in schools, namely Uvalde, Texas, to bolster her point for additional meetings on the subject.
“I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with cops on campus, right? I’m that person who doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable with cops around kids, right? But no matter how you feel about that, I think that there needs to be some transparency and I think that people need to know what the plan is,” said Love.
Wirth responded that he was uncomfortable with Love’s opposition to SROs. He saw the issue behind the Uvalde tragedy differently, arguing that more armed officers on campus would prevent similar tragedies from befalling CUSD. Wirth said that no SROs at all was not the right choice.
“Considering what’s going on in the world, that seems like the worst decision we can make — ” began Wirth.
At that point, Love interrupted Wirth to argue that there were CUSD members who didn’t want SROs. She claimed that SROs impacted certain categories of students to a greater negative degree than others. Love didn’t elaborate on what motives could drive that claimed impact.
“You may be comfortable with cops on campus but there are parents in this audience and students in this audience who may not, right? Because what we know is that we have cops on campus and they disproportionately impact BIPOC students and SPED students,” said Love. “I will not be silenced about this. We just had parents and students get up and address this. So you not feeling comfortable does not negate people in this audience and in our community who do not feel comfortable.”
Board President Barb Mozdzen instructed Love to give Wirth the floor to speak. Love interrupted Mozdzen instead.
“You know what Barb, I interrupted because I overheard him say over there, ‘Let somebody else speak,’ and I let everybody on this board speak,” said Love.
When Wirth tried to respond, Love shouted him down.
“No, I’m not letting you speak. I’m not letting you speak. I polled this myself, I had questions and I won’t be silenced,” said Love. “You can speak but I will not sit up here for a lecture.”
Mozdzen intervened to inform Love that she was out of order for breaking away from the agenda. Love refused to allow Mozdzen to continue speaking. Love asserted that if she was out of line, then Wirth was out of line for “lecturing” her in his response.
At that point, Mozdzen repeated to Love that Wirth was going to speak and that Love should remain silent.
Wirth concluded by reiterating his belief that SROs were necessary for school safety.
“My point is, I believe it’s important to have officers on the campus based on what’s going on in the world right now. That’s all I have to say,” said Wirth.
In a later post on Twitter, Love insisted that police intimidated minority and LGBTQ+ students.
Love, a controversial member, decided last November that she wouldn’t seek reelection.
The chairwoman of Planned Parenthood’s activist arm in Arizona bragged about her husband assaulting a supporter of former President Donald Trump.
In a midnight tweet over the weekend, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAZ) Board of Directors Chairwoman Chris Love tweeted that her husband “body-checked” a man wearing a “Blacks for Trump” t-shirt while at a “Bans Off Our Bodies” pro-abortion rally in Phoenix on Saturday. PPAZ organized and hosted the rally as part of their national organization’s greater protest movement nationwide.
“My husband @MiQL got lost in the crowd and I had to send folks to find him. Instead of hanging in the tented area with the cool kids, he was organizing folks,” wrote Love. “He also body checked some dude in a “Blacks for Trump” shirt. Swoon!”
Love’s husband replied that he was just doing what was best for their movement.
“Doing what I can to support our collective efforts, Bew,” he wrote.
Others disparaged the man in the comments, mocking his hygiene and physical appearance.
This wasn’t the first time Love advocated for violence. In September, Love called for riots after the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) refused to intervene in Texas’ abortion ban. Elected Democratic officials approved of her messaging — both state legislators running for higher offices.
State Representatives Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson) and Diego Rodriguez (D-Phoenix) retweeted Love’s urge to followers to “break some s**t” in response to Texas’ ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Hernandez is running for Congress and Rodriguez is running for attorney general.