Signs of hope

About 15 years ago, Minnesota was dealing with a bunch of ignorant radicals who were packing school boards, and had even captured the position of educational commissioner in the form of Cheri Yecke. It was ugly. I was attending school board meetings that featured train of young earth creationists standing up to parrot nonsense…but, fortunately, we also had genuine grass roots people standing up to oppose them. We’ve still got wretched right wingers filling school boards, but at least I think we totally crushed the creationist insurgence here, and Yecke is long gone.

Now, though, the US (not so much Minnesota) is dealing with another group of astro-turfing assholes, Moms for Liberty. There are signs that they are getting desperate. Would you believe Moms for Liberty was trying to build a claque to attend a school board meeting? They were recruiting “talented clappers” to pack the audience.

It’s not working.

What’s happening instead is that the general public is getting fired up. They hate those arrogant Karens. They’ve recently won school board elections, but like the creationists, as word gets around, the public rises up and notices and starts firing back.

Most of the attendees saw that appeal as a minor victory, or at least as evidence that they were gaining ground in the battle for control over the school district — one of hundreds of similar battles unfolding all over the country. Yes, the Pennridge school board was dominated by far-right members, one of whom had been present in Washington for Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally-turned-riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Yes, at least five of the nine board members were linked to Moms for Liberty, a right-wing “astroturf” organization that has orchestrated a national campaign to remake public education along arch-conservative and anti-intellectual lines. But Pennridge board meetings for months had been dominated by outraged parents speaking out against the Moms for Liberty incursion and the board majority’s apparent agenda. Conservative forces were sufficiently worried about the optics, it appeared, that they were eager to pull in “talented clappers” from outside the community.

A tightly packed group of Moms for Liberty supporters did indeed show up, huddled together in a few rows of seats. Their mood could best be described as “glowering.” These were not exactly the “joyful warriors” that Moms for Liberty proudly proclaims fights on their behalf. That term would better fit the majority of attendees at Pennridge High that night, who needed no coaxing to whoop and applaud as one speaker after another took the mic, defending the basic freedom to read whatever books one wants, and denouncing the ahistorical and misleading curriculum that conservative board members wanted to force upon the district’s teachers.

This is news that gives me a little optimism. I think the public at large wants to do what is right, even as a minority of hateful, motivated scumbags exploit the system to secure some degree of power. Temporarily.


  1. raven says

    Some of these right wingnuts have been recalled once the public finds out who they are and what they want to do. Here is one example.

    Recall succeeds in ousting 3 Richland school officials who violated WA masking law
    Eric Rosane August 3, 2023·4 min read
    Tri City Herald edited for length

    Voters soundly recalling 3 Richland school officials after they defied WA mask mandate

    Three Richland School Board members have been recalled and will be removed from office in the coming weeks.

    That’s according to new ballot results released Thursday for the Aug. 1 primary election.

    The recall was the result of a February 2022 split 3-2 vote on the board to go against the state’s indoor mask mandate.

    A group of voters who initiated the recall charged Bird, Byrd and Williams of:

    Violating Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) by taking final action on a matter not included on a published meeting agenda.

    Violating state law on masking at the time, exceeding their powers and responsibilities as school board members.

    Violating district policies and procedures by failing to assure compliance with laws and policies.

    This was in Washington state.

    The right wingnuts were Friends of the Covid-19 Virus and refused to enforce the Washington state masking mandate during the recent pandemic.

    A lot of these right wingnut school board members really hate the public schools and it wouldn’t bother them to destroy them.

    Audra Bird recalled school board member. “Please do not naively keep your children in Richland School District. It will be to the destruction of their testimonies in Jesus Christ and any moral values you are teaching them in the home.”
    Says it all.

  2. SchreiberBike says

    These people are playing to their strengths, that is clapping loud. It’s certainly not thinking or understanding history.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Interesting gambit, basically bring people from far and wide to intimidate a community rising up against a minority by showing an army.
    An army of “talented clappers”, interesting that they’d want an army willing to pass along gonorrhea. Then again, such groups have already expanded syphilis and HIV infection rates to developing nation rates.

    More concerning is, that group did get Florida’s legislature to pass a law where any objection by a school board member to an out of context, cherrypicked reading from an objected to work gets that work banned.
    Personally, I’d counter with a similar tactic, choosing choice text excerpts from some of their favorite works, such as the bible, getting it banned as well.

  4. says

    it would be oh so easy to get the bible banned by reading from it, if that’s all it took. as atheists we’re all familiar with the murder mania and weird sleazy sex stuff in there. good stuff.

  5. Doc Bill says

    Some years ago, the very talented Ron Johnson, Apple VP who rolled out the incredibly successful Apple Stores, was recruited by JC Penney to “revitalize” the company. Ron took the challenge and presented a new vision for JC Penney stores that was ahead of its time. The company embarked on the project and met immediate resistance from the “Frumpy Moms” or whatever they were called, who didn’t cotton to no change, demanded coupons over everyday low prices and raised quite a stink. So much so that the Board axed the project and Ron Johnson, too. The Frumpy Moms sank back into the ooze while JC Penney lost billions in valuation, their stock trading around 20-cents a share. Ironically, a penny stock!

    All because the old duffers who sat on the Board were afraid of a bunch of loud Frumpy Moms who had the buying power of a skid row bum. Insanity.

  6. Paul K says

    I recently resigned from my local school board after eleven years, and I did so because of the way the school district — and the board — was handling the attempted removal of the book, Queer Ducks (and Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality by Eliot Shrefer. I won’t go into the details, but I reached the point where I thought resigning was the best way to make clear just how out of touch I and others thought the board was with what we needed to prioritize (marginalized kids over specific, biased staff, in particular) . Since my resignation, and because of the speaking out of lots of parents and others, as well as good coverage in local media, things are better than I thought they might be, though there’s still a long way to go. And I was replaced by a woman who will do what is right, so I’m glad about that.

    The whole thing happened because of one rightwing nutjob who challenged the book, and our own poorly designed — and even more poorly following of — a book challenge policy and procedure. The best thing that one nutjob did was to make our flawed way of doing things get fixed. There is a much clearer, better defense against book banning in place. And eleven years was long enough.

  7. says

    it would be oh so easy to get the bible banned by reading from it

    I used to sometimes get bored and high and go through art sites like deviantart, placing strikes against all images of the crucifixion as “sadomasochistic abuse.” The Children Online Protection Act (COPA) criminalizes any presentation of images of “sadomasochistic abuse” to minors. Seeing christian propaganda flagged 18+ was satisfying.

  8. says

    Teaching is a hard job. Right now it’s an incredibly hard job and there’s teacher shortages all over the place, including Germany, where it’s well paid when compared with the US and the UK, but not as well paid as a decent industry job, as indicated by the fact that my beloved, who is like three educational levels below me makes more money than I do.
    Still, I love my job, but I absolutely wouldn’t want to be a teacher in the US. Lousy pay, good chance of getting shot and then there’s school boards, where every conspiracy theorist whose educational background is having dropped out of high school can tell you, a professional with a Master’s degree, how to do your job. It’s driving US teachers out of the profession and I think that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    If you really want to be pessimistic, let me remind you the Earth will become uninhabitable in less than a billion years, and the Universe is expanding and getting closer to its heat death.

    Don’t get me started on the ongoing mass extinction, or the inevitability of a Carrington event, not to mention a much worse Miyake event.
    But long before that, Ebola will have mutated to become airborne.

  10. wzrd1 says

    @ 9, never found teaching a class hard. Preparing, yes. Grading, yes, teaching, not so much.
    Indeed, the best way I’ve ever learned to actually know the subject is to actually teach it.
    Gotta be prepared for the occasional hard question students like me would ask.
    Which I quite enjoyed, on rare occasions, I’ve even had to tell the questioning student that I’d be back soon with an answer. That was rare though, I did prepare, for both military and civilian audiences.
    And in one case, spent over 4 hours after school helping students with remedial math in electronics, in a basic electronics class.
    Got released for that, as the “Dean” that was former military academy wanted a massive wash-out rate. Pity, their security dean loved me, he being former Secret Service and we’d BS’d over security methods, models and techniques. But, the failed business had its leadership.

    Teaching kids was more fun, we built classrooms and schools (along with my preferred clinics), for me, it was like R&R, not hurting anyone, no risk, educating kids like a good parent and later, grandparent, totally cool.
    And the “hard work” I outlined, well, I’m dyslexic and well compensated until fatigued. Rendering it harder work, but not really, as it was worth the effort and not really work at all.
    Not an economic compensation model, an emotional one, one has to balance emotion with conditions of life.
    And I was making a little bit less than most US teachers at the latter stages of my military career.
    On top of educating my subordinates in 10 digit grid coordinate location, which is down to one meter. I performed it routinely, at novel locations using only a US NATO issue compass and a map, I allowed their use of a GTO (Graphic Training Object), aka a transparency giving a protractor and graphic scale a bit lower than the compass.
    I required 8 digits. 10 digits is 1 meter accuracy, I asked for only 10 meters accuracy.
    I was trained to 10 digits, but that was, erm, special. I wanted medics and few attending infantry to learn not, get the helicopter off of my fucking foot, but at least within realistic evacuation or emergency resupply. Advanced students were free to learn further and advise me on their advancements.
    Had a few over my careers, the most promising crumbled, due to well, his wife threatening to kill herself and their children if he deployed and I strongly championed the loss via compassionate discharge.
    My best and brightest, but I do have a soul, whateverinhell that is.
    Big Army would have just went with “let them kill themselves, we have duty” and well, reality and commanders disagree and undermine commanders and reality, we get Operation Market, which failed – horrifically.
    I’ll not dig into committee dishumanization and whatnot, a village idiot can do that and you, I and most readers are decidedly not village or otherwise idiots.

    An NCO’s primary duty (Non-Commissioned Officer) has a primary duty to train his or her troops and replacements.
    Even 30 years ago, that required educational training, some took to it, some did not and well, without an emergency, military evolution is glacial. See cavalry charges during WWI, despite fucking machine guns.
    I educated to the best of my ability, as is my duty.
    So, now ask me to offer quadratics, yeah, not happening.
    Can offer some quantum theories, radiological viewing techniques, well, a ton of information.
    Which, I do, daily at times.

    Humanity survives for one reason, educating our replacements.
    I always went for a superior replacement, overachieved and got two.

  11. wzrd1 says

    birgerjohansson, where is your vacation location, during all of that?
    I was considering Europa, then my wife died and I decided to lay myself out on my wife’s grave and allow the solar winds to project my remnants away.

    Thought about wading on Europa during red giant, erm, that’d even get boring for me, who does tread water for full afternoons or mornings.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Wzrd@ 12
    The Norwegians are clever, they will figure something out. Along the lines of the atemporal “Restaurant at the End of the Universe” in the novel of the same name.

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