When we left the Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) Board, they were doing what school boards who are being challenged seem to do: condemning concerned parents, instead of examining their policies and behavior.
The opposition of WeTheParents and their calling out of what occurs at the school board meetings did not sit well with Board President Jen Fenton. At the October 8 board meeting, she went on a tear, and supposedly had the Manhattan Beach Police Department present. In President Fenton’s opening remarks, she referenced threats made towards her personally, and attached these threats, without any evidence, to WeTheParents.
“To respond to a very public and widespread newsletter that went out over the weekend from a group called ‘We the parents MB.’ I’ll start by saying that the email is full of lies, is both slanderous as well as defamatory. For those who are watching and are part of this group please know that I’ve spoken with attorneys and have subsequently filed a report with Manhattan Beach Police Department. We’ve also contacted the web post where We the Parents Manhattan Beach email address is registered, to report the abuse and misconduct.
“This anonymous group is trying to derail that which the school board was elected to do – oversee education and represent the interests of our students and staff. Contrary to the myriad of lies that are viciously being spread about me, I have not replaced academic excellence or character development. Curriculum change requires a process, including a committee with teacher and parent involvement as well as a board vote. I unilaterally do not have the authority to impart CRT, white fragility or racial reckoning into our teacher’s course material. Nor has we as a governing board ever discussed these theories or their application in our K-12 instruction. MBUSD has always and will continue to teach ‘real Math, Science, History and English.’
“We follow state mandated guidelines, including common core standards, California content standards and California curriculum framework. We’ve never veered from the agenda of providing the best education for our students. So, to say that I’ve replaced any of our academics is one hundred percent disinformation. It’s untrue. Let me repeat myself. There is zero validity to this outlandish claim. On October 20th we are hosting a workshop to discuss an equity audit that was conducted for MBUSD. And during that conversation we’ll explore next steps to make our campuses and our curriculum more inclusive.”
Here is President Fenton’s full seven-minute screed against the parents who are raising legitimate questions and concerns about where the MBUSD Board and Trustees are taking this new push for Equity, Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion (EDSJI), and why it has to be so damned expensive.
The MBUSD Board and Trustees scheduled the October 20, 2021 workshop to discuss the results of the CLEAR Equity Audit and how to incorporate the report into the school district’s EDSJI initiatives.
President Fenton claimed that the board would explore next steps on how to make MBUSD “more inclusive”. While the board, the MBUSD Trustees, and their selected speakers, made a show of “inclusiveness,” they did a poor job. The packing of the first public comments session with four PRO-EDSJI voices up front, and then hearing public comments by dissenters and those with concerns after, did not play well. The MBUSD board and trustees allowed some PRO voices in between the dissenters, but what this did is to mute or diminish the concerns and made the opposition appear non-existent.
Several of the PRO comments sounded oddly familiar and scripted, which is also a tactic used to give the appearance of unity and embed the terms and buzzwords to make them sound normal.
One graduated MBUSD student made the claim that diversity and equity learning prepared him for outside experiences.
All is well and good, but it begs the question: is that the role of the school or the role of the parents?
Fred Taylor of WeTheParents gave dissenting comments and also wrote a summary of his experience in the workshop:
“The EDSJI ‘workshop’ was akin to a kangaroo court. Participants were not allowed to see the other participants, unlike to the open and transparent MB City Council meetings. We were not allowed to view how many other concerned parents and residents attended the Workshop, wondering whether there were 10 at the workshop or 300??? There were about 8 public comments presented at the top at 5p.m. ordered by 4 ‘pro’ comments first.”
Having dealt with the tactics by the Unions in Sacramento, this type of marginalization and limitation is part of their tactics, including bringing in their favorable coalitions en masse, and letting them have the first and last word.
“From then on it was strictly subcommittee members presenting their advocacy without interruption in a one-way dialogue with virtually no comments by the community. The advocates and the indoctrinated on the Equity, Diversity, Social Justice, Inclusion, Cultural Competence talking amongst themselves… and finally Adult Recognition of Positionality…. several versions of academic word salads.”
It was definitely a whole lot of word salads, and for any Manhattan Beach parent who feels confused or out of their depth, do not feel like you are alone.
This is intentional.
The first step of Leftist educators and the intellectual elite is to confuse the language to divide people and generations. It happened at the Tower of Babel, and these groups know it is a necessary tool to coalesce their “tribe” and place everyone else on the outside.
If you cannot use the language or you do not understand the language, this is a clear indicator that you are not a part of the tribe and definitely part of the “other.”
Your child doesn’t understand it either, which is part of the agenda, and the reasons for the tactics. Children are sensitive to being excluded, and they’ll adjust as necessary not to be. We see this all over the TikTok app. Peer Pressure is a powerful thing.
As if there are not enough things that widen the divide between generations, Leftist educators build and deepen that wall of separation by changing the language to suit their purposes. Hence, all this blather about “inclusiveness,” “allies,” and “positionality.”
In order to encourage this divide, your child will have to be indoctrinated in the terminology and the speak, which is why a change in curriculum is required. Which brings us back to the workshop discussion.
The workshop was structured in a way that excluded, as Taylor also noted:
“Aside from a handful of ‘chat’ comments/questions on Zoom, it’s as hard to say this was a ‘workshop’ as this whole ‘race-first, race-identity’ agenda is good for our kids. Ultimately, it will separate them into groups like Dr. Bowes Davis HS that has a Black Only Student Union Club. Really??”
Really. Whether School Superintendent Dr. John Bowes will admit it or not (he probably won’t), this is the end goal for MBUSD and every school district being targeted with EDSJI, CRT, ethnic studies, or whatever terminology is being used to couch this soft Marxism.
Not that ethnic or racial clubs are a bad thing. In my wayback years, the school I went to (majority white and Asian) had a Black Student Union. But you know what? Whites were welcome to join. No one was excluded.
But I doubt this is the case being made here. After all, ethnicities need their “safe spaces” free from the oppressor.
It does appear that the focus is on aligning children against each other because of racial differences, rather than showing how they can be unified. Who cares what their differences are? Instead of working with what unites this particular school district, this board and its trustees seem to feel they need to focus on what divides them and build entire programs around it.
It is happening across the country, and once again, it is all by design.
#Mother sounds off on #Loudoun county #schoolboard after learning her 6-year-old was taught she was born evil, because she's white in #school.#CRT #CriticalRaceTheory #wokeism #ParentsMatter #ParentsAreNotDomesticTerrorists #education #VirginiaElection2021 pic.twitter.com/VEDbtFVtIc
— The Vigilant Fox (@VigilantFox) November 1, 2021
When each EDSJI subcommittee spoke about their area in the EDSJI platform, there should have been questions taken directly after the presentation. President Fenton could have limited it to a certain number and blocked the time for that. Instead, what no doubt happened is that anyone who did have a concern either did not stick around for the three-hour workshop or were so blinkered after listening to the word salad being tossed, that any connective tissue would be gone.
Here’s how taking questions immediately would have benefited, especially in the area of “Inclusion.”
When this term is used, the focus is 99 percent always about race. How about religious inclusiveness? The board, trustees, and speakers are big on talking about offensive language. As a Christian, I can tell you that I have encountered many insensitive, offensive, and discriminatory comments directed at me because of my beliefs. Why is this not addressed in the inclusion, equity, and diversity language and spaces?
Pamela Davidson said in the interview that hate crimes directed at churches occur on a fairly regular basis in Manhattan Beach.
“There have been other incidences that have happened that haven’t been raised. Acts of hate, and not against race.
“I mean, just this weekend at American Martyrs Church, where I’m a member, we had someone that wrote in red paint next to the statues of the martyrs, “murderers,” Davidson said.
“So there have been acts of hate against our church. You know they don’t like Catholics, and they don’t like Christians, so, there are ugly people around. They have chopped off, you know, the head of the Virgin Mary. Two or three times out in our peace garden.
“I mean, it’s hateful people who are indiscriminate in their hate and they have a political agenda that they’re trying to push.”
How many MBUSD children go to Catholic Church, or any church? How will those “lived experiences” and hate directed at their lived experiences be addressed in this new curriculum? What about cultural experiences? Children who live in a biracial home get the joy of living among two cultures. Will the new curriculum give place for their “lived experience” to be heard and seen?
Or what if their lived experiences don’t include racism or feeling marginalized? What if they are perfectly happy with their friendship groups, their campus experiences, and what they are learning? What if they could care less about race and simply want to learn robotics?
The “diversity” buzzword is often bandied around, yet rarely incorporates diversity of thought. This could be religious (or atheist) thought, conservative political thought, or ideas that are outside of the mainstream of liberal orthodoxy.
In the process of conducting the CLEAR Equity Audit, they conducted interviews. One of the speakers made the point that in order to interview the children, they had to have the parent’s permission. If follow-up questions immediately after the presentation had been allowed, it would have brought certain things to light.
For example, one of those questions logically would have been, How many children were interviewed? What was their race? What percentage of the student body?
When comments and questions were addressed midway through the workshop, one dissenter named Cheryl Wendell made it known that the fact that they were simply throwing out these many “students” or
“stakeholders was not helpful. So much ambiguity,” she said.
If the MBUSD Board is basing this EDSJI Initiative on interviews and unspoken grievances, it would be nice to know how much of this grievance is really present. Is it two percent? 10 percent? 35 percent? This can be done without revealing identities, and this information should be provided to the parents and the community who are the true stakeholders. It is their time, money, and more importantly, their child.
As stated in Part 2 of this exclusive, Pamela Davidson was first encouraged to be one of the speakers because of her professional expertise in data analysis. However, when they received Davidson’s analysis of the Equity Audit, she was quietly disinvited but encouraged to speak over public comments.
As Fred Taylor summarized:
“Suffice it to say, the data collected at the district did not support the findings/conclusions. According to Dr. Davidson, ‘There was a disconnect between the data and the conclusions and voluminous CRT recommendations.’ It was as though they took a survey and ignoring the data, recommended the “narrative” they’re pushing.’ That is, race is a problem on campus and indoctrination is required, from teachers to staff and on to students.
“And the icing on the cake of this whole MBUSD debacle is this: Page 36 of the 44-page Audit report states: “There was a lack of evidence. …regarding discrimination within the District.” WOW!
“That should have been the reason to stop this runaway train in its tracks. However, President Fenton and the Board refused to address Dr. Davidson’s professional findings as well as the lack of need for this agenda. The Board never addressed these issues.”
Davidson was not the only one who found the audit flawed. Another dissenter, Lee Phillips, said it was “not a good quality report”, and that it was “confusing,” particularly in its definitions of “equity,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and other terminology.
“Is the Manhattan Beach Unified School District diverse, or not? How can you make assessments if you don’t have good definitions?” Phillips said.
“What we really need is a real discussion,” Phillips concluded.
Which begs the question: If the Equity Audit is flawed, why is the board using it at all? How can you even incorporate it as a point from which you recreate policy and curriculum if the information is faulty? How does this reflect responsibility to the student or parental stakeholders or even rooted in any way in excellence?
The flawed report, for which the Board paid $25,000 to Center for Leadership and Equity Research (CLEAR), and WeTheParent’s concerns over the Board’s rush to push EDSJI Initiatives through, was a common thread among the community members who voiced their concerns or opposition. One dissenter made the strong point that the board has not really listened to the parents.
Malone Becker made a public comment toward the very end of the workshop, and she expressed her disappointment that the board, “drained their coffers” to pay for the CLEAR Equity Audit. Becker also made the point about the shaky number of students surveyed for the report, and the conclusions reached from it. If 517 people took the CLEAR survey, why did only 232 people complete it? And how can this provide a complete picture of an entire school system of 6,524 students or a community?
“None of what is proposed in the report has anything to do with improving or pursuing academic excellence,” Becker said.
Ray Joseph was a meeting participant who also dissented, but he proposed an alternative focus. Joseph expressed that instead of reinventing the wheel, the district needed to get back to “competitive kids,” and that the EDSJI will render “unintended consequences” that may not be in the best interest of the students.
Joseph brought up a Forbes article on the #MeToo movement, and how the unintended consequences became targeting men and manhood with false accusations. Joseph encouraged that the focus on helping the students find academic and vocational excellence is how the students find acceptance, a sense of belonging, and become equipped for their future.
After listening to a very long three hours of this “workshop” one thing is clear: The MBUSD Board and Trustees are intent on plowing ahead based on the very incomplete, and flawed information presented in the CLEAR Equity Audit to craft their EDSJI policies and curriculum. Board member Jason Boxer encouraged moving ahead to craft an ethnic studies program, which is now required for graduation thanks to California’s governor. From the closing discussion and language used, it does not appear the board of trustees will be discarding the CLEAR Equity Audit, or the nebulous concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion presented.
From all indications, the MBUSD Board knows it is on shaky ground. According to Pamela Davidson, the board has hired a PR firm to float an increase in parcel taxes to support the schools.
Good luck with that. In the November 2020 elections, Californians roundly rejected Proposition 15, which sought to increase taxes on industrial and commercial properties in order to fund local schools and community colleges. If the pandemic revealed anything, it’s that citizens will no longer fall over themselves to fund more government boondoggles, especially ones that have “for the children” as part of the language.
There is also the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF), which raises money annually to support the schools, and relies on contributions from the Manhattan Beach community to, according to the website, “sustain the programs that inspire learning, enrich teaching, and promote innovation and academic excellence in our public schools.”
If Manhattan Beach parents no longer feel this is what is occurring, then they do not have to fund it. Pure and simple.
“Defund the Police” has received way too much play over the past two years, and we are seeing the consequences of this with rising crime and a total disregard for law and order. “Defund Education” should have been given more of the focus, but from the rumblings across America for school choice and school board accountability, this is due to change.
If teachers’ unions and school boards want to continue on this path of wholesale disregard of parents and the community in order to implement an agenda that has little to do with equity, diversity, and inclusion, and everything to do with exclusion, homogenization, and indoctrination, then parents have every right to not only pull their support and their children – and to pull their dollars.
While there were a few more dissenting comments made, Malone Becker’s closing words were the mic drop moment:
“We are spending so much energy, money, and time on trying to teach things about race, social justice, cultural awareness, and social/emotional learning. I actually do not want the government school teaching my children about these subjects because I feel the viewpoint is skewed and has alternative motives that align with the government agenda to divide our country, and to teach our students that our country is somehow fatally flawed, or to be apologized for,” Becker said.
“I do not want our history obliterated, as this is what makes us all Americans—a shared background and history. We are still the greatest nation on the planet, and it is why everyone is trying to come here—just look at our Southern border as an example.
“So, please, just focus all your energy and our money on bringing academic excellence, good moral character, a good work ethic, and a belief in a higher power to our Manhattan Beach schools. I respectfully request that you please disband the EDSJI committee and return your focus to academic excellence.”
Manhattan Beach parents do not have to resign themselves or co-sign this wholesale indoctrination of their children. Stand with WeTheParents. Having seen the money spent on this, work to defund and withhold your tax dollars from programs and agendas that do not suit your values or the values you want to be instilled in your children.
You have the power and the “Positionality” to make it happen.