Buckle up for for a wild ride as Jeanne breaks down the latest Peoria Unified Board meeting. (Spoiler alert: It’s a sh*tshow)
Hey there, Secular Fam, have you all noticed how many evangelical extremists reject the expertise of actual experts of things lately? It all started in 2020. At first, everyone was like, “OMG, yay, teachers! You’re amazing. My children are horrible! Homeschooling sucks! Why am I drinking wine at 9:00 AM?”
Teaching is hard for certified teachers under the best of circumstances, and I do not envy the parents and/or teachers who went through such a difficult time. Something shifted with the MAGA crowd in the fall of 2020 when individual school districts had to make tough decisions about school openings, closures, and masking.
I was still on my school district governing board at the time, and we decided to follow the science and the advice of the CDC since none of us were experts. We also made sure kids and families were fed and passed out food boxes every week. We had a couple of campuses open for our kids with special needs, we got electronics in the hands of all of our students, and worked with families to connect them to high-speed internet whenever we were able.
It wasn’t easy, and we certainly didn’t make everyone happy, but we had a mostly collaborative board with passionate people who truly cared about kids and their community.
Thankfully we avoided the Pitchfork Mafia, but watched as districts all around the state were being targeted by rabid anti-science, anti-masking evangelicals. Church leaders and gym owners defied local, state, and/or national guidelines, and the leader of the free world was encouraging people to inject themselves with disinfectant or to sit in direct sunlight.
One of the last conversations I had with my own sister was when she called for Anthony Fauci to be put before a firing squad. I’m sure a bunch of us lost even more family members during this time, either due to their political ideologies or the COVID-19 pandemic.
So after fawning all over teachers in early 2020, by the fall, that had changed. Scientists, epidemiologists, doctors, and healthcare workers were next to be demonized. Remember this?
Jeanne Casteen, Secular AZ Executive Director
JEANNE CASTEEN has a bachelor’s degree in human communication and history from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at ASU and a master’s in education, also from ASU. Jeanne has over 11 years of experience teaching in Maricopa County’s public schools. In 2011, Jeanne completed the Emerge Arizona program and in 2012 became a school board member of the Creighton School District. She served as Board President from 2016 through 2020. In 2020, Ms. Casteen ran for Maricopa County School Superintendent, and came within 12,000 votes of winning. She has been awarded the Arizona School Public Relations Association Award for Excellence in Advocacy and Political Contributions to Education as well as the Arizona School Board Association’s All-Arizona School Board Member Award.