I debated whether to write about Peoria (PUSD) or Paradise Valley (PVUSD) this week since both meetings happened on the same night. It is A LOT to subject oneself to, but I’m a glutton for punishment and I DID watch both meetings… so I’ll give a brief breakdown of both.
Did I mention that this is A LOT? (If you’re interested in helping us stay on top of what’s happening at these school board meetings, you can sign up to help here).
So let’s go ahead and start with PUSD. In case y’all forgot, your presence and willingness to email the PUSD board seemed to help accelerate the resignation of PUSD Board Member and homeschooling creationist, Rebecca Hill.
So thanks to everyone who stepped up to make that happen!
It’s the Monday after a Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board meeting, so you know what that means… That’s right! I am reliving the hellscape that has become the biweekly meeting happening in the West Valley.
Buckle up, Buttercup, because it was one wild ride of procedural missteps, white supremacy, and fake electors (OH MY!).
The meeting started with a very normal public hearing about the budget. Despite attempts by white Christian nationalist board members to make everything seem like a conspiracy while they whine and cry about the lack of transparency in our public schools, every public district must make their budgets public. Interestingly enough, the same cannot be said for private schools where the students aren’t tested, the curriculum doesn’t require approval, and administrators can deny admission or employment for any reason at all.
And don’t even get me started on the lack of accountability for homeschoolers.
The Supreme Cult has continued its attack on the underpinnings of democracy in this just finished session. We dodged a fatal bullet in the “independent legislature” nonsense and got unexpected positive rulings in the Indian Child Welfare Act and gerrymandering cases.
But we got the expected negative rulings on affirmative action and student debt. Two religious privilege cases were on the agenda, and both gave special privileges to those who claim religion as an excuse to harm other people.
In Groff v. DeJoy a rural postal carrier argued that he should be able to take all Sundays off because of his religious practice as an evangelical. To allow him to do so meant that other employees would be forced to take Sunday shifts to cover for him.
A written agreement outlined how employees are chosen to work on Sunday to deliver Amazon packages. He fell into the third category of employees compelled to work on a rotating basis.
To accommodate him, others — including the postmaster who normally did not deliver mail — did the work or it was assigned to the regional hub for other carriers. Several grumbled; one filed a written complaint. Groff received progressive discipline for failing to work and then in 2019 he resigned.
But! Whether scripture is explicitly being read at meetings by board members or not, there are a lot of Christofascists who are elected or who are showing up at school board meetings all over Arizona.
Our local school boards are the heart of our democracy, and I’ve started tracking what’s happening at these meetings as much as I am able. I submit myself to this torture so that Secular AZ members and the public know what is going on in their own backyards… and so Arizonans can make informed decisions in the 2024 election and vote for candidates who support our secular schools and government.
So without any further adieu, let’s make like MC Hammer and break it down!
But there are just so many reliably WRONG things happening at your meetings every other week, and our members deserve to know about them. So buckle up, throw some Bailey’s in your coffee, and let’s break it all down.
Because this last meeting was a doozy.
And be sure to check your emails in the coming days, because on my way to the PUSD meeting, I was listening to public comments at the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) board meeting, and as soon as my stomach can handle it, I’ll be writing a breakdown of their Thursday meeting, where the tinfoil hat brigade was in full force.
Also, School Districts! Could you stop having your meetings on the same nights? Kthxbye.
Let’s get this (horrible, nightmarish) party started!
Join us on Friday, September 8 at noon for a discussion of the emergence and growing number of right-wing charter schools with Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education.
Carol Burris served as principal of South Side High School in the Rockville Centre School District in NY. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University; her dissertation on equitable practices in mathematics instruction received the 2003 National Association of Secondary Schools’ Principals Middle LevelDissertation of the Year Award.
She was the 2010 School Administrators’ Association of New York State “Outstanding Educator of the Year,” and the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ 2013 “New York State High School Principal of the Year.” Carol serves as a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center., has published three books on educational equity, and authored or co-authored pieces in Educational Leadership, The Kappan, the American Educational Research Journal, Theory into Practice, The School Administrator and EdWeek.
On March 9th, 2023, at a routine Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) board meeting, a flock of parents showed up, wearing shirts with phrases like “protect our children.” Throughout the meeting, parents hurled insults at the board, superintendent, and administration, violating the public comment code of conduct.