This week’s Peoria (PUSD) meeting was…indescribable. But I know y’all are counting on me to describe it, so I’ll do my best.
And if you’re reading this, but you don’t have a paid subscription, help a sister out and upgrade your subscription to “paid” and support the work we do because I’m nearly positive that attending and monitoring these meetings is bad for my health.
This evening, there was a celebration of student artists in PUSD, so the meeting opened by highlighting the hard work of these students and their teachers. Once board reports were over (WITHOUT any complaints or bastardized versions of the district motto “every student, every day…” so that was a nice change), President Sandoval *wisely* encouraged all award recipients and their families that “now is a good time to leave” right before public comments. Agreed, Prez, those kids definitely didn’t need to be exposed to what came next.
Another week, another board meeting. After witnessing first-hand the absolute WORST example of school board behavior that I have EVER seen, I had to come back to Deer Valley (DVUSD) to check out this week’s meeting. Spoiler alert: It was messy AF.
And it’s not just messy during the meetings. Because of this wave of ultra MAGA deplorables joining their local school boards, they’re essentially trained to behave like children not only at meetings, but online as well. So where professional board members will meet with their superintendents and maintain professional relationships with fellow board members, staff, students, and parents, these extremists tend to paint everything as a conspiracy theory, act as perpetual victims, and talk about non-agendized items online.
So a friend of mine reached out to me this week to ask for some help with the Mesa Public School District Governing Board meeting because they’ve been taken over by ultra-MAGA, QAnon, Christian nationalists. I wish I could say that she was exaggerating, but…
The first thing I’d like to say is that of all the board meetings in all the districts that I’ve attended in my life, Mesa takes the cake for putting together some great videos explaining the procedures and protocol for the governing board and the call to the public. They even inform attendees that board members are volunteers, hopefully to deter people from saying stupid stuff like, “My taxes pay your salary!”
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.
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.