Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

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 News reported 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.” 

It Is Critical to Drain the School Board Swamp This November

It Is Critical to Drain the School Board Swamp This November

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

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.

But Mesa isn’t the only problem…

>>> CONTINUE READING >>>

Do SEL Programs Need to Be Defined Better to Make Them Less Controversial?

Do SEL Programs Need to Be Defined Better to Make Them Less Controversial?

By Kurt Rohrs |

Recent legislation mandates that public schools offer Mental Health Instruction and Social and Emotional learning (SEL) programs to their curriculum. But the legislation does not specify what those programs should consist of.

However, companion legislation does offer some guidance on SEL instruction by prohibiting instruction typical of Critical Race Theory (CRT) doctrine from being presented in classrooms.

The legislation gives seven specific prohibitions on social instruction: It prohibits teaching that:

1. One race, ethnic group or sex is inherently morally or intellectually superior to another race, ethnic group or sex.

2. An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

3. An individual should be invidiously discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex.

4. An individual’s moral character is determined by the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex.

5. An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed by other members of the same race, ethnic group or sex.

6. An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex.

7. Academic achievement, meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race, ethnic group or sex to oppress members of another race, ethnic group or sex.

Parents are concerned that SEL programs may still be used to usher in controversial political and social ideologies concerning race relations (CRT), child sexuality (CSE) and neo-Marxist political doctrine (“Equity” as Wealth Redistribution), which may be buried in the details of certain programs. Parents would probably be far more comfortable if these ideological considerations were carefully scrubbed from SEL curriculum.

It may be far more effective to base SEL programs on agnostic, apolitical concepts that are generally accepted across cultural boundaries and are not agenda driven by activist special interest groups. Programs that focus on good character and positive behaviors, instead of specific identity group grievances and restitution typical of cultural Marxist doctrine, would most likely find far greater support in the community.

Here are several positive social behaviors that are generally accepted across many cultures that we used to present to students and which generated little controversy. Perhaps we never should have gotten away from these fundamental principles of behavior.

TRUSTWORTHINESS

    • Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal.
    • Have integrity. Do what you say you’ll do.
    • Keep your promises.
    • Be loyal. Stand by your values.

RESPECT

    • Follow the Golden Rule.
    • Be accepting of differences.
    • Be courteous to others.
    • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements.
    • Be considerate of others’ feelings.

RESPONSIBILITY

    • Do what you are supposed to do. Try your best.
    • Persevere. Keep on trying.
    • Be self-disciplined.
    • Think before you act. Consider the consequences.
    • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes.

FAIRNESS

    • Play by the rules.
    • Take turns and share.
    • Be open-minded. Listen to others.
    • Don’t take advantage of others.

CARING

    • Be kind.
    • Be compassionate.
    • Express gratitude.
    • Forgive others.

CITIZENSHIP

    • Do your share to make your home, school, and community better.
    • Cooperate.
    • Stay informed. Vote.
    • Be a good neighbor.
    • Make choices that protect the safety and rights of others.
    • Protect the environment.

“Whole Child” Concept

The newest iteration of SEL appears to be the “Whole Child” initiative, which combines the academic education of children and the management of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The “Whole Child” initiative is driven primarily by the Association of Supervisors and Curriculum Development (ASCD) in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in an apparent effort to expand government agency influence into the home life and parenting of children. It is described by the Whole School, Community, and Child (WSCC) model as having 10 components:

  1. Physical education and physical activity
  2. Nutrition environment and services
  3. Health education
  4. Social and emotional climate
  5. Physical environment
  6. Health services
  7. Counseling, psychological, and social services
  8. Employee wellness
  9. Community involvement
  10. Family engagement

Other collaborators are the Priscilla Chan/Mark Zuckerberg Initiative and Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Both these collaborators’ organizations have been criticized recently for surreptitiously weaving controversial Social Justice doctrine into seemingly innocuous education programs.

Whole Child programs can take on a variety of forms. The Chandler Unified School District’s approach includes several specific, and far less controversial, programs such as:

    • Athletics
    • Art Masterpiece                                   
    • Mandarin Dual Language                       
    • Academy and Traditional Schools
    • Special Needs Programs
    • Band and Orchestra
    • Spanish Dual Language
    • Gifted Programs
    • STEM Programs

There seems to be no generally accepted guidelines on SEL programs and the proper balance of academic instruction (the realm of teachers) and social instruction (the realm of parents). Both communities appear to be encroaching upon each other’s “turf” with parents recoiling about intrusive social instruction in the classroom and teachers dismayed about alternative school choice options being exercised by parents because of their discomfort.

It is long past time to resolve these conflicts with clear and distinct boundaries with respect to the education of, and raising of, children. Our children will be the ones who benefit most.

Kurt Rohrs is a candidate for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. You can find out more about his campaign here.

Are Stressed Out Teachers Being Asked to Do Too Much?

Are Stressed Out Teachers Being Asked to Do Too Much?

By Kurt Rohrs |

As we see a steady stream of experienced teachers leave the profession, we should be questioning why they are leaving. Maybe it is not always about money.

If teachers are expected not only to educate our kids, but now to raise them as well, perhaps we should consider that teachers may not realistically be able do all the things they are being asked to do.

Teachers usually come to love their kids, care about them deeply, and want what is best for them. It is part of what being a teacher means. But is there a limit to how much intervention a teacher should have in a child’s life?

We are now seeing an aggressive effort by Progressive Liberals to reshape American society to match their own personal preferences. This has become most evident in school classrooms where there appears to be a deliberate intent to influence children to accept their particular worldview. So, are teachers now expected to step in front of parents to drive these controversial ideologies?

This is leaving parents concerned and dismayed by the social conditioning that is being exposed in the classrooms with regard to sexuality, race relations, and political ideologies. They are also becoming more agitated and outspoken as they perceive their own children being weaponized against them. 

So are Progressive Liberals, in the form of “Woke” activists, engaging in a deliberate effort to pit teachers against parents in a rather ruthless bid to gain political power and control?

Are these activists now simply using teachers as tools to accomplish their political goals? This would be deeply disrespectful to the profession. If this realization sets in for teachers, it is quite doubtful that they will appreciate being used in this way. And hopefully, they will start to turn away from this scheme.

But teachers aren’t the only ones affected. Children can also feel caught in the middle between parents and teachers, which could leave them traumatized by this contrived conflict. It’s like children who watch their mother and father argue at the dinner table and, wanting to please both, don’t know which way to turn. This cannot be a healthy and positive situation for children. It is of little wonder that we seem to have more children displaying mental and emotional health issues than before. They are being unnecessarily over stressed.

We have also seen national teachers’ unions trying to bully, intimidate, and discredit parents who dare to question their efforts to control dialogue in the classrooms. They label these parents as “Domestic Terrorists” and threaten that dissenting parents be sanctioned by the Justice Department.

Because of these aggressive activities, there is a concern that the bond of trust between parents and teachers is being frayed almost to a breaking point. This is a great disappointment. Now, more parents want to pull their children out of public schools because of the dissatisfaction with this type of undesirable social conditioning. Many feel that their children are being taken away from them, so they are responding by removing these children from that perceived threat.

There is a responsibility for teaching professionals to develop and maintain healthy and positive relationships with parents, to explain to parents what they are teaching and why, to define the limits of their intervention in the raising of children, and to reassure parents that they are not trying to replace them. They must convince parents that public schools are the best place to send their kids—and that there are well understood boundaries of what will and will not be presented to their kids in the classrooms.

Kurt Rohrs is a candidate for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. You can find out more about his campaign here.