If this last year has taught us much of anything, it’s that being partisan or strictly loyal to one party alone isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Neither is it all that matters.
Thankfully, some leaders in our communities understand that and willing to stand above it all for the sake of what is actually the best for our neighborhoods and children.
I’d like to point out the recent actions and words of two school board members in Palm Beach County, Florida, in particular.
Here in Palm Beach County, the introduction of critical race theory and “equity” in our schools has been in many discussions lately. And so, it should be no surprise that the matter would be brought before the school board.
According to the Palm Beach Post, on May 5, the Palm Beach County School Board passed a statement that seemed to favor the movement. Included in the five paragraphs pledging the district’s allegiance to “equity” was the not-so-well taken phrase, “white advantage, that several parents had a problem with.
The statement noted that is the school system “is committed to dismantling structures rooted in white advantage and transforming our system by hearing and elevating underrepresented voices, sharing power, recognizing and eliminating bias, and redistributing resources to provide equitable outcomes.”
And naturally, during the next school board meeting, held on May 19, some parents voiced their opposition to this idea or at least it’s phrasing.
According to the Post, Jessica Martinez said, “Your statement is dividing us and it incites racism. Being a parent of both a Hispanic and a Caucasian student, this equity statement leads me to believe you’re viewing my children’s academics by the color of their skin or their ethnic background.”
Amanda Silvestri, another parent, said she would “not allow my children to continue their education in a school district that promotes racism. Equity, as you are calling it, is a political view and it is racist. You mention ‘dismantling white advantage,’ which is an opinion. None of this despicable, political, racist nonsense should be pushed on innocent children and has absolutely no business being taught in schools.”
Given these statements of outrage and others from parents, the board decided in a 4-3 vote to rescind their previous statement and rewrote it to make it more acceptable for all parents involved, just as they should.
After all, as school board members, their job is not to vote simply based on their own belief systems but on what is best for their schools and community as a whole. And listening to and taking parents’ advice is a massive part of that.
Now, it is noted that all four of the board members who voted to exclude the divisive language from the statement were all registered Democrats, not that it should make any difference, as neither the school board nor the education industry has or should have anything really to do with partisanship.
However, it is something to take notice of in this instance. Why?
Well, apparently, the Palm Beach County Democratic Party didn’t like that these party members had chosen the voices and needs of parents and children over party agenda. And so, in a vote by the executive committee of the party, all four school board members were censured.
The statement of censure, which Democratic state Representative Omari Hardy wrote, said that the recent change in the school board’s statement “runs counter to our Democratic values. These four board members, all of whom are registered Democrats, have lost the trust and confidence of many activists and leaders of color whose enthusiastic support for the Democratic Party has been – and will continue to be – critical to (the) party’s success in Palm Beach County….”
And to this, two of the four school board members responded by publicly leaving the party altogether.
School board chair Frank Barbieri responded, “I do not answer to the Democratic Party simply because there is a ‘D’ after my name. Since the Democratic Executive Committee members by their vote apparently believe I answer to them simply because of that ‘D,’ I will make it less stressful for them when I don’t dance to their drumbeat. I am replacing the ‘D’ with an ‘I’ and will continue to do what I’ve always done – make decisions independently of partisan politics.”
And board member Barbara McQuinn gave a similar response:
“Just changed to independent. Words can’t describe how disgusted I am with bipartisanship!” And she added, “We are supposed to be doing what’s best for students to (the) best of our ability.”