The Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) Board states as part of its “Equity, Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion” goals:
The MBUSD Board Goals include a focus on equity, diversity, social justice and inclusion as part of our work to create a community of care in our District. We recognize that we have a responsibility to actively oppose racism and discrimination, and to guide this work with our students, families, and staff.
As a Black communicator, it seems that the people who are crying for diversity and inclusion rarely reflect these so-called values. If MBUSD Board is truly concerned about this, one would think they would look in the mirror. The School Board could be the cast of a new reality show called, 5 Woke Crackers. Three blonde, white women, one brunette, and one white, “non-binary” biological male does not a diverse or inclusive board make. I fail to understand how you can lead in what you do not embody.
In the wake of the 2020, racially fueled unrest and riots surrounding the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the MBUSD Board was driven to examine its own system and make changes that embody what they stated in their goals above. Under the direction of the MBUSD Board of Trustees and the Superintendent of Schools, the School Board hired an organization called Center for Leadership, Equity, and Research (CLEAR) to perform an equity audit. Nancy Akhavan, a self-described educational consultant, spearheaded the audit of MBUSD and its policies.
Manhattan Beach has already experienced a very public racial reckoning with the return of Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of the Black family who originally owned it. The School Board appears to be keeping this racial justice train going, so they are revising their educational system and curriculum to become equitable, more racially sensitive, and inclusive.
Like many schools across the country, the MBUSD Board is looking to embed CRT-style measures and language into the curriculum and the school district activities, without any real input from the Manhattan Beach parents or community. So, a concerned group of parents is standing up as a bulwark against this racially divisive, rather than racially unifying, tide.
Pamela Davidson, Fred Taylor, and Lauren Harger have chosen to be the faces of WeTheParents; but the group encompasses the concerns of many other parents in the community who have preferred to remain anonymous. These parents are gravely concerned, but also want to protect their livelihoods and their children.
Fred Taylor recently got a taste of what it means to stand up, when he received an “anonymous” email basically telling him that as a white, conservative male, he needed to sit down and shut up.
Stay in your lane. Stick to marketing. CRT is a graduate level topic that is a white conservative liberal buzz word to scare people like you. The students in MB are not being taught CRT. They are being taught to think for themselves and not follow in the beliefs of close minded people. Those that try to shut a voice of an entire group of people are scared of their existing privileged place in society which seems to be overwhelming from white conservative men.
And this cowardly person who didn’t bother to identify themselves is using all the Leftist buzzwords to shut down any discussion or argument that CRT, or some variation of its tenets, are being inserted into MBUSD school curriculum. The hilarious part of this email is that if you live in Manhattan Beach, an area that embodies some of the highest income per capita in the state; it is the very definition of “privilege.”
Pot, meet kettle.
Taylor was nonplussed, but did send the letter to members of the MBUSD School Board. As of this writing, Taylor has not received a response.
“I’m concerned about my family, and I’m concerned about our physical welfare,” Taylor said.
“But I’m more concerned with the thousands of kids from Manhattan Beach Unified School District that will graduate in the coming five to 10 years, that will leave this district with poisoned thinking.
“It’s worth it to me.”
The MBUSD School Board has not helped its case by attempting to incorporate these equity and diversity changes under the radar. Announcements of these changes were given, but were not widely disseminated. Meetings to discuss these changes were limited in public comment and public attendance, under the guise of COVID-19. Our California governor used the pandemic to suspend the Brown Act, which governs local and municipal public meetings, including school districts, and has used his illegitimate hold on emergency powers to further gut the Act. Suffice to say that the MBUSD board president has used these restrictions to blunt public comment and public access to the meetings. So, according to WeTheParents, most of the planning for what MBUSD calls its EDSJI Initiative was done on the downlow, with little input from the community.
Taylor wrote a letter last week that was printed in the local paper, Beach Reporter:
A friend sent me a copy of the so-called ‘anonymous’ email about the MBUSD School Board last weekend. While it was rough on President Fenton’s leadership, here’s my personal experience with this Board:
This Springtime, I learned that troubling things were happening at the District. Nationally, parents were rising up against Critical Race Theory in local schools following the George Floyd debacle. And while this Board continues to deny CRT, it formed an ‘Equity, Diversity, Social Justice and Inclusion’ [EDSJI] committee on the down low December, 2020.
I have been at every Board meeting since June 23rd. Fenton has allowed only 20 or 30 minutes for public comment meeting after meeting. She has also said, “If the views are similar, we’ll end your time [paraphrase].” On the 9/22 meeting, two supporting the Board and only 8 of the 16 opposing the Board were allowed to speak. That’s the first time I’ve seen her supporters totally outnumbered.
For the recent 10/6 meeting, an MBUnited team of ‘race-first, identity-first’ supporters showed up in mass. Some 30 or more parents and kids complete with masks and signs were conveniently photographed by a local ‘online’ newsletter which impugned the opposing parents. Fenton also summoned the MBPD and expanded the public comment time to 75 minutes with such an enthusiastic team of supports outside.
Would she have done that for opposing views? All I know is she didn’t do that on 9/22 when the protestors outnumbered the supporters 8-1.
You be the judge.
Lauren Harger affirmed Taylor’s allegations of the parents being impugned for taking a contrarian stance.
“Our local papers [Easy Reader and Peninsula News] did a hit job on our parents about the last school board meeting.”
The headline of the “hit job” piece contains the word “attack,” so that tells you upfront that it does not plan to be favorable towards the parents group. The article contains the highly staged photos that Taylor mentions in his note: Lilly White men, women, and children holding up signs defending the MBUSD Board, and condemning any opposition to their goals as “hate.”
In the piece, Fred Taylor is painted as a humorless stalker and gender cop, and WeTheParents is dismissed with linguistic eye rolls and couched terms, all because they dare think that CRT is being taught in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District and that the honorable school board is to blame.
Whoever is making these choices on the MBUSD Board is not only serving to place the board under a microscope, but they have bankrupted any intended good they wish to bring to the subject of race, inclusion, or equity. Parents are right to be concerned about the divisiveness surrounding CRT, as well as the well-documented hostility and dismissiveness to parental concerns by school boards across the country.
It has also not helped matters that Attorney General Merrick Garland has chosen to label parents who challenge their school boards as, “domestic terrorists” and threaten them with the full weight of the FBI. AG Garland was rightly grilled at a Congressional hearing this morning, and as covered by RedState, it appears this letter was done in concert with the White House. Most children spend more time in the halls of education than they do with their families, so parents concerned about the state of their child’s mind, well-being, and education is neither unfounded nor illegitimate. Yet, certain national leaders, candidates, and school board members feel differently.
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said in a debate that parents should not have input into what their children are being exposed to or learning. Just pay your taxes and shut up—let the “experts” do their job.
In speaking with both Davidson and Taylor, it seems as though MBUSD is saying the same thing. Their actions express what the words of Taylor’s anonymous email stated: “stay in your lane.”
WeTheParents are drawing a line in the sand and saying they will be heard, and they will oppose anything that seeks to harm the well-being, not only of their own children, but the children of the Manhattan Beach community.
“It’s an indoctrination, and it’s an indoctrination that we don’t want,” Pamela Davidson said.
“We want the educator to stay focused on the core subjects, and we don’t want them moving into this agenda that they’re moving into. What we refer to as CRT principles, and also gender identity, and all of that. We don’t want our teachers and our school leaders indoctrinating our students.
“[The MBUSD board is saying] [w]e’ve got values and they’re political values, and we’re gonna interject those and impose those on you, [In order] to radicalize our young people in ways that the parents and the community really don’t agree with. So, we’re opposing it.
“Many communities across the country are standing up. This is not what we want!”
In Part 2 of this series, the results of the CLEAR Equity audit, and the MBUSD Board response to Davidson’s analysis will be discussed.