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October 30, 2021 08:26 AM UTC

School boards: a new focus for right wing extremists or just rebuilding?

  • by: Colorado Progressive Mom

(Crazy from the bottom up — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

While you may have breathed a sigh of relief in November 2020 and in January of 2021 as President Biden was sworn in, Colorado progressives should not rest easy. The extreme right wing has focused its attention on taking over your city councils and school boards.

In case you think, this is a “grassroots or home grown” effort from the right, think again. In June of this year, the Family Resource Council held a school board candidate boot camp (not unlike those of progressives). By their own acknowledgement, FRC’s 4-hour training focused on publicizing and spreading mistrust of school district and government employees, fighting Critical Race Theory, and defending discipline in schools from anti-racism activism. The training, in its description brought together a predictable cast of characters: The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Leadership Institute and the 1776 Project PAC. The overarching theme of the training was fighting diversity and anti-racism efforts (all branded as CRT) in schools.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) was covered by Jonathan Butcher from Heritage Foundation. He described the history of the theory itself, its Marxist roots in Germany in the early 20th century, its spread to America through universities, and its eventual arrival in America’s K-12 school classrooms. Butcher explained the need to understand the different forms CRT can take and the need for school board members to remove it from America’s public schools. Next, Mary Hasson from Ethics and Public Policy Center emphasized the need for school board candidates and members who value the dignity of the human person…

After a fantastic presentation by the Leadership Institute on how to run for office, the final panel focused on parent groups, PACs, and recall campaigns. Ryan Girdusky of the 1776 Project PAC talked about his efforts to support candidates who are committed to eliminating critical race theory from their school systems. Ian Prior of Fight for Schools explained his recall campaign in Loudoun County and work he is doing to mobilize parents on education issues. And finally, Joe Werrell of NC Protect Our Students PAC explained how his group has vetted candidates, supported them, and taken over the school board in his community.

So what does this have to do with Colorado? While we can’t confirm lists of participants, the campaign themes and rhetoric of school board candidates from Grand Junction to Boulder, Durango to Aurora all center on the themes listed out by the Family Resource Council. These themes, however go a few steps further: surveillance of classrooms by parents, parental at-will audits of teachers, and of course, the anti-mask, anti-vaccine rhetoric.

From Boulder to Lakewood, Fort Collins to Aurora, Durango to Grand Junction, progressives should be concerned and must vigilantly vote. A few of the gems:

In St. Vrain Valley School District, which covers eastern Boulder, school board candidate Natalie Abshier of Mead has posted:

abshier2 abshier1

AND on her website:

Question from a user on Facebook: A year ago in September of 2020 you posted dozens of articles, videos, and comments that bashed BLM, the 1619 Project, CRT and promoted the 1776 Commission. First of all, do you deny this? Second of all, do you still support the 1776 Commission and if so, can you explain how that does not directly contradict what you speak about in this video?

My response: I have posted all screenshots of my posts from August, 2020 through when I deleted my account in November, 2020 in the Mead Uncensored Facebook group. There is not a single thing racist in the posts and if there were I’m sure someone would have pointed it out to prove me wrong. Just because certain people want to label me a racist doesn’t make me a racist…

Cindy Ficklin in Grand Junction:

Cindy Ficklin, a Grand Junction realtor and conservative activist who is now running for the Colorado House of Representatives, believes that by listening to people and fighting for constitutional rights, she can bring the people of Mesa County together. She also believes that a small group of billionaires including George Soros and the Rothschild family may secretly control global banking and are pushing to subjugate America under a “New World Order.”

Right wing Mesa County Candidate Willie Jones has a lengthy criminal rap sheet, including domestic violence, and believes he should serve on a school board.

According to court documents, in 1997 Jones pled guilty to disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment, for which he received a $125 fine, a 20-day suspended jail sentence, an anger management evaluation and a no-contact order.

A suspended jail sentence is deferred and nullified upon the successful completion of the probation requirements.

Jones pled guilty to violation of a restraining order in 1998, according to court documents, and was sentenced to a 45-day suspended jail sentence and a year of probation.

In 1998, Jones pled guilty to violating a restraining order, according to court documents and was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence, and a $400 fine.

AND of course, Q Anon activist Schume Navarro in Cherry Creek, who wants to bring an end to “the covert CRT implementation” and masking in Cherry Creek Schools:

“I’ve just been watchful and this has been the craziest ride I’ve ever been on,” said Navarro. “After that stuff happened, that’s when I fell on to the QAnon stuff and that has been given such a bad rep! And I say that and I feel people’s— ‘Ooo don’t say that!’ I feel people say that!

I’m gonna tell you- I’ve held that lightly! I’ve held that like — let’s see, people say, ‘you’re a conspiracy theorist! No more conspiracy theories! I’m tired of conspiracy theories!’

You want to know what? You also have people who are like, ‘I believe science!’ Okay well, have you heard of the scientific method? What you do is you have a hypothesis or a theory. You state the theory and then you find facts that prove or disprove the theory. If they’re supporting things that prove it, then — it’s not a con –it’s like literally a conspiracy. It’s like I mean, it’s like legit. It’s a conspiracy.”

How many more are out there? And has there ever been such a wave of crazy school board candidates in history? If these people win next Tuesday Colorado has a big problem.


14 thoughts on “School boards: a new focus for right wing extremists or just rebuilding?

  1. The far right gqp has focused on school boards for decades.  Look what they did to DougCo and JeffCo school boards .  The plan devised was to run for every office, especially local and state.  And, they have been at it, often leaving Dems behind.  The repubs ran for each seat as a partisan seat even though those are non-partison.  One of my runs had me facing a candidate backed by the rnc! An easy million was spent against me. I look at that as test run for more elections by them, they saw a candidate bare of deep party support in the name of Dem playing fair when they can do what ever they want without any punishment.

  2. Bear in mind that the Family Resource Council has been one of the king-pin religious right organizations pushing America as being founded as a "Christian nation." FRC strives to do as much as possible to turn America into a theocracy.

  3. Thanks, CO progressive mom, for posting this! I've been saying for a while that this school board RWNJ takeover is well funded and nationally coordinated. Steve Bannon admitted as much.

    In Denver and Jeffco, the opposition "reform" school board candidates tend to be more subtle racists. They push an anti-masking agenda,  and push for more charter schools as opposed to improving neighborhood schools.

    The siphoning off of students from neighborhood schools to charter schools is how modern schools stay segregated by race and class. Neighborhood schools are poorer and have more people of color than charter schools. Most charter schools don't offer free bussing, and so students have to depend on parents who have a flexible schedule and can afford to drive them to and from school every day.

    Charter schools also tend to be union-busters; most staff in charters are not union members, and the schools exploit them by requiring more classes, less planning time, and unfair evaluations. Hence, charters tend to hire less qualified teachers.

    The Jeffco Kids Slate candidates are pro-neighborhood schools and pro following CDC direction on masking.  So are the DCTA- endorsed DPS Board candidates Olson, Gaytan, Esserman, and Quattlebaum.

    1. And the charters don't have resources (or the mandate, apparently) to deal with special needs, behavior problems, non-English speakers, etc.

      So the difficult students (the expensive ones) end up back in the mainstream public school to be taken care of.

      They often don't offer extra-curricular like sports, band, etc.  So the charter kids get to free-ride the PS programs for that too.

  4. Just because you have nuts saying stuff doesn’t mean the stuff is crazy.  If that were the test, people who believed in chemtrails voting for Biden would make any vote for Biden crazy.

    In this situation, the Dems/left have gone too far on the so-called diversity and unreality of gender issues for many people.  There is going to be blow back and the pendulum will possibly swing right for a bit.  Which would be no big deal (political pendulums swing back and forth) but for the inability of the GOP to consistently stand for the peaceful transfer of power in the post-January 6th era when the pendulum swings again. 

    1. Well, that's the rub isn't it.  The right has let the nuts take over and set the agenda, and they have a pathological inability to take "no" for an answer or to accept that they lost a democratic process and can't have their way.

      So, we have an enraged and outraged right that is getting ready to launch armed occupations of school boards over a completely overblown and largely manufactured problem  – the hysteria over so-called CRT – which is mostly a manufactured concern that literally does not exist.

      If the Dems/left have over-steered on diversity and gender language or content, fair enough, there's a few too many construction paper rainbows in middle school classes then, but the right has turned it into an existential apocalyptic crisis over which one of those jackasses may well build a truck bomb.

      1. Elliott and MartinMark: lives are at stake. It isn’t just a matter of “Too many construction paper rainbows”, MM. Gender and diversity issues are not “unreal”,  Elliott. 

        LGBTQ kids have always been about 10% of school populations. They’re twice as likely to be depressed, and four times as likely to attempt suicide. Recognizing their basic human right to exist and be accepted for  who they are is huge, even if there is awkwardness around pronouns or you need a new sign for the restrooms. Their lives are worth it.

        On other “diversity” issues, this is settled law, even if the Bannons and FRC grifters wish it wasn’t. Students with special needs get accommodations. Poor kids get to eat. English Language Learners get appropriate classes and curriculum, and are not to “sink or swim”. Female (and all ) athletes get equal spending and are protected from sexual assault on campus. Health classes have to cover the factual minimums of biology, sexuality, and contraception. Multicultural students get to see their own cultures and hear their own voices and viewpoints in literature and history.

        Which parts of that do you two find excessive or unrealistic? 

        1. I'm not sure who you are arguing with.  I am completely familiar with the very real issues around race and gender.

          My point is that while these topics are getting more integrated into schools consciousness – as they are are with society at large – they have hardly taken over the curriculum, nor led to a tsunami of boys masquerading as girls to get into the girls' toilet.  Meanwhile, if you were to listen to right wing school board candidates, CRT is the real epidemic.

  5. The short game here IS pretty extreme, but that's part of the long game. The country-club GOP establishment held school board seats for most of the 20th century, and in doing so kept most of the extremists in their party on the margins. What I see here is the Trumpers taking away the bench from that establishment and mainstreaming extremism in the GOP for decades to come. We need to beat them at the school board level, or will be fighting them at all levels.

    1. Meanwhile, over in the levers of electoral power ….. the Dems are, well, *crickets*

      The GOP took over state houses, state SoS, and State AGs, along with County Clerks.  That was no accident.

      Education is not only for controlling curriculum and a farm system for building local name recognition, it also controls one of the biggest pots of money in the local system and second largest money pot in the state.

      So, while the GOP fields an army of “candidates” with seminars and support and money, the candidates of the left are on their own to figure it out, and to face down the harassment, recalls, death threats, etc. on their own

      You can bet if a GOP School Board member was getting death threats, it would be front and center on every news station, some GOP attorney ghoul would airdrop himself on the scene to star bloviating and escalating, and a militia of armed dipshits would surround the building to create a human wall.

  6. School boards aren't the only problem the Democrats have.  Conservatives are about to take over the Aurora city council again.  The R candidates have been advertising for months in local publications without one Democrat showing his or her face or name anywhere.  City Councils and School Boards are two significant reasons the gop has buried itself so deeply into the nation's psyche.  It's time the Democrats wake up, for dog's sake!!!

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