The Bait…and Switch

Two parents addressed the school board Monday night with important concerns about parental rights. The point they made was that all parents should have the ability to review instructional materials being used in the public schools.

Seems pretty reasonable, right? And I agree with them on this point 100%. Indeed, it’s hard to argue with such a commonsense idea. And the idea isn’t just an opinion we share; the right of parents to review instructional materials is written into state law.

Their public statements, however, wrapped this important educational issue around a whole series of other ones, from “the homosexual and transgender lifestyles” and the “LGBT agenda,” to questioning why there weren’t special weeks devoted to Christian and heterosexual students (among others), to perceived disrespect for legal gun ownership.

If this bundle of issues sounds familiar, it’s because they are a stock part of the well-oiled outrage machines that make up today’s partisan politics. It’s probably not a coincidence that these parents came to the board with organized support from the Lehigh Valley Tea Party and the Mississippi-based American Family Association, two avowedly partisan groups.

And this is exactly why partisan politics are so toxic to our school district. An important and legitimate educational issue–parental rights to know what is happening in the schools and how the district can do better– is hijacked by those who want to use the issue in the service of one political ideology or another. It’s a classic bait and switch: bait people with a real educational concern, then reel them in by switching to political talking points.

In this case, it was more than just a civil and detailed discussion of parental rights that was hijacked. The meeting agenda Monday night was chock full of educational matters of importance to the community, from the passage of a final budget, to the appointment of a new superintendent, to debate over a major marketing deal with the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). WFMZ had actually sent a crew to cover discussion of the LVHN deal. But what did they end up covering? “District accused of promoting gay lifestyle.”

The issues we face in our school district are not Republican or Democratic issues, nor are they even ‘us’ versus ‘them’ issues; they’re community issues. The extreme and unrelenting partisan politics playing out today are, quite literally, destroying us. You can easily see this at both the national and state levels. And if we invite them into our schools, they will destroy those too.

Note: I wrote another post about this same meeting, “Too much for you, faggot?

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