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.”
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.
A Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) psychology teacher instructed high schoolers on controversial, challenged, and, in some cases, debunked claims concerning sexual orientation. According to records obtained by AZ Free News, SUSD didn’t give the teacher permission for what she taught.
Much of what SUSD Advanced Placement (AP) psychology teacher Mackenzie Onofry taught on the subject to the Desert Mountain High School students came from Alfred Kinsey: the late Indiana University sexologist credited as the “Father of the Sexual Revolution” whose research included adults sexually violating infants and children to prove the inherent sexual nature of mankind, even in minors. Kinsey is revered in many LGBTQ+ circles, and IU established an institute in his honor.
The following includes what Onofry taught the students, according to slideshows obtained by AZ Free News: only 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women are exclusively heterosexual, sexuality is a continuum, homosexuality spans human history and is a natural part of the animal world, sexual orientation isn’t a choice and is immutable, conversion therapy doesn’t work, women have more erotic plasticity (sexual interests) than men, that homosexuality is a gene location on the X chromosome, fetal testosterone exposure causes attraction to women, and male homosexuality increases by one-third with each son born.
Dr. Miriam Grossman, the psychiatrist interviewed at length in The Daily Wire documentary “What Is a Woman,” interviewed with AZ Free News about this incident. Grossman affirmed the fact that Kinsey’s research was fraudulent and even criminal. She said Onofry’s teachings were “shameful,” especially considering that the SUSD teacher didn’t tell the full story of Kinsey.
“There’s no question here that this teacher is coming into the classroom with her own agenda of influencing the students and imposing her value system and ideas on these students. I think parents should be outraged that this is happening right under their noses,” said Grossman.
Grossman explained further that Kinsey attempted to normalize deviant sexual behaviors through his “Kinsey Scale,” which declared that human sexuality exists on a continuum but was based on research interviews that included sex crime felons and prostitutes.
“Kinsey was a social reformer. He wanted to rid society of Judeo-Christian values. He wanted an any-age, anything-goes type of sexual behaviors between people. We know that he lived that kind of lifestyle and he wanted to promote that kind of lifestyle in society,” explained Grossman. “He came up with his scale through research that was done in prisons with felons that had people who had committed sexual crimes and research with prostitutes. He took their responses to his questions about sexual behavior and he applied that to middle America. He implied that the deviant behaviors of the group that he was studying, and in which he fit by the way, applied to everybody.”
Grossman suggested that parents read the works of Dr. Judith Reisman, a researcher who dedicated her life to challenging Kinsey’s work and legacy, systematically exposing fraud in Kinsey’s work. Reisman reiterated that Onofry had a duty to teach the whole truth about Kinsey, if she were to mention him at all.
“If Kinsey should be mentioned at all in a psychology class to high schoolers, and I highly question whether that should be mentioned at all, it should only be mentioned how fraudulent his research was,” said Grossman. “What parents and schools need to be asking here is, what is motivating this teacher? Psychology is a huge field with many different areas and important things that teenagers would benefit from knowing. Clearly she’s picking and choosing these areas. I’m wondering how this is more important than other areas.”
Onofry also taught AP psychology at the Flagstaff BASIS, a prestigious charter school chain. While a graduate student, Northern Arizona University (NAU) named Onofry their Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year.
Onofry’s sister, Samantha Onofry, is legal counsel to Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT).
Onofry’s curriculum was only available to the public through an open records request. Access to curriculum online through SUSD requires a parental or student login.
The issue of transparent school curriculums was nearly solved this year.
The state legislature came close to requiring all K-12 schools to make their curriculum accessible to the public online — until one Republican voted with Democrats to kill the legislation. Following the initial report of the SUSD sexuality curriculum from the Arizona Daily Independent, State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) lamented the one Republican’s vote against transparency.
Though Barto didn’t mention the representative by name, she was referring to her colleague Joel John (R-Buckeye). John has sided with Democrats on other critical bills advanced by his fellow Republicans, such as HB2656.
“The radical push continues. AZ parents won’t know if CRT and sexual grooming is even happening in their schools [without] transparency aka SB1211 which failed this year because one Republican voted with every single Dem,” tweeted Barto.
Barto’s bill, SB1211, would’ve required schools to offer curriculum online in a searchable manner, organized by subject, grade, and teacher. Any education materials concerning nondiscrimination, diversity, equity, inclusion, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, bias, action-oriented civics, service learning, or social and emotional competencies were to be published online within 72 hours of their implementation. All other materials were required to be published within the week of their implementation. All materials would remain accessible on the school’s website for at least two years.
In explanation of his “no” vote in April, John argued that the bill was too burdensome for teachers. He said that, as a former teacher, the curriculum posting would burden an already “low-paying, thankless job.”
“I think this bill frankly goes too far and puts too many extra burdens [on teachers], as some of our colleagues have already pointed out,” stated John.
In his argument, John echoed a talking point among Democrats: that SB1211 was an “unfunded mandate” by the state.
Barto issued her condemnation in response to the testimony of Rhode Island parent Nicole Solas, who was sued by the nation’s largest teachers union for filing public records requests.
In the committee hearings preceding SB1211’s failure in April, Democrats stated that parents dissatisfied with their school’s transparency should just transfer. They made the argument as part of an indirect insult to the state’s school choice system.
Teachers on the popular podcast, “Teachers Off Duty,” argued that it was “against best practice” to require them to publish their curriculum in advance of the school year. One of the teachers, Bri Richardson, said that she couldn’t adhere to such a requirement because she didn’t know what she’d be teaching. The other three podcaster-teachers concurred with her.
“Is that a joke? Bro, I don’t know what I’m teaching,” said Richardson.
SB1211 earned the approval of Governor Doug Ducey’s office, who celebrated the bill’s progression out of the Senate in March.
Upon the bill’s demise, the House Democratic caucus portrayed SB1211 as “anti-teacher” and an indictment of educators as the enemy.
Parents pulled their kindergarteners from Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) classrooms after district leadership refused to put an end to one staff member’s discussions of gender ideology. The alleged perpetrator was Mia Perry, a before and after school care assistant who told students that she was nonbinary, an LGBTQ+ term indicating that the individual believes they’re genderless.
It appears that Perry shared more details of gender ideology: SUSD parents reported their kindergarteners came home with concern that they wouldn’t always remain the gender they were, and that they could choose their gender.
One SUSD parent and Arizona Senate candidate, Jan Dubauskas, explained to “The Conservative Circus” that Perry informed the kindergarteners of her nonbinary identity unprompted. At the time of the interview, Dubauskas said she hadn’t received word from SUSD about her complaint filed a week prior.
“This person is alone with small children and unsupervised, and SUSD has known about this for at least eight days,” observed Dubauskas.
Several days after filing the complaint, Dubauskas and several other parents running for office issued an open letter to SUSD.
In response to the parents’ complaints, SUSD Superintendent Scott Menzel defended Perry. During the SUSD Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, Menzel accused parents of Civil Rights violations. Menzel took issue with the fact that Dubauskas issued a press release alongside other political candidates discussing details of the complaint against Perry, claiming that the parents were using the issue for political gain. Menzel said that the parents’ decision to issue an open letter before SUSD concluded its investigation supported his assessment of the situation.
“To target an individual publicly for their personal identity — in this case the individual against whom this complaint was filed does not identify as either male or female — is overt discrimination and inconsistent with state and federal law as well as school district policy,” said Menzel.
Menzel reminded SUSD parents and community members that the district had a commitment to its core values of empathy and inclusion.
“This district will not take adverse employment action against any individual as a result of their identity, no matter how offensive that may be to some,” said Menzel. “Hate and targeted attacks toward individuals on our staff are inconsistent and incompatible with [our] core values. It is my hope that our Scottsdale community will respond with kindness, love, and compassion toward all, as we look to finish this school year on a positive note.”
On Tuesday, SUSD issued a response to the parents’ complaint. SUSD Early Learning and Community Education Director Christine Bonow asserted that Perry hadn’t acted inappropriately when she informed kindergarteners of her gender identity. Additionally, Bonow rebutted the claims that the children didn’t ask Perry about her gender.
“I have found the staff person to be credible and consistent in relating the details of the comments that were made. The staff member did not initiate any conversation regarding gender identity, nor did they engage in any instruction that would be considered sex education. When asked a direct question by a child, the staff member answered briefly, in an age-appropriate manner and honestly,” wrote Bonow. “Simply being aware of a staff member’s gender identity is not inappropriate. Staff members are protected from discrimination based upon gender identity by board policy AC, Scottsdale city ordinance, and state and federal laws.”
Bonow then asserted that action against Perry would be discriminatory.
Once upon a time, teachers were measured by their ability to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. And schools did everything they could to ensure that the teachers they hired were trained properly in these critical subjects.
But now, too many school districts have refocused their priorities, opting to indoctrinate our kids with diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve certainly seen it with the cleverly disguised Marxism inherent to Critical Race Theory. But this isn’t the only avenue the left is using to come after students.
Pushing gender and sexual identity have also become popular. One Arizona school district has even gone so far as to encourage children to replace their “deadname”—the birth name that individuals reject upon transitioning genders—with their preferred name on their school ID. And now, a school in that same district, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), has required middle school teachers to attend grooming training…