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Eating Bugs and Transgender Nudist Colony Bathrooms?
(Or Just Another PUSD Board Meeting? Who Can Tell)
Just when I think things can’t get any weirder…
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.
Public comments opened up with a lovely older woman who assured everyone that our tax dollars are not going to private schools (except they totally are). She also asserted that homeschoolers aren’t getting my tax dollars (they totally are), and that thanks to being a Catholic school teacher years ago, she learned how to recycle WAAAAY before everyone else.
Weird flex, but OK. She then talked about bathrooms and encouraged the board to break the law and codify discrimination of trans kids.
Next up, was another regular attendee who decided to do an audit of all school handbooks for no apparent reason. I really couldn’t follow what she was talking about but she seemed to really enjoy poring over those handbooks, so I’m glad she found a hobby!
Another regular was next (she’s the one who usually turns her back on any speaker she disagrees with) and she decided to read from the Bible, starting at Genesis, and I was very grateful that they put a time limit on public speakers in PUSD. She seemed to be making a case that God uses they/them pronouns (?), but it was hard to sort through the word salad coming out of her mouth.
She spoke against the professional development travel request for staff because she HATES Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and accused PUSD staff of indoctorating [sic] students. Then she quoted Luke 17:2 to maybe pour one out for Rebecca Hill (?) and essentially said that Jesus wants all non-Christians eradicated.
She was also mad about evolution being taught in public schools and then read one of the several versions of the Ten Commandments. It was… weird.
A teacher in the district brought up the libelous statements about her being published on some West Valley Parents Uniting Facebook page and asked that they be removed.
Then 🧻USA operative, Tiffany Benson came up to the lectern with a shirt proclaiming that there are “only two genders.”
She spouted off some stats from the district and then alleged that the new interim superintendent, Kevin Molino, is working on a bathroom solution so that new buildings and/or building improvements will include unisex bathrooms. I was thinking, “what a great idea, now everyone can be happy,” but then Tiffany immediately expressed her disdain for “unisex, nudist colony, bathrooms.”
Like, y’all have been coming to these meetings and complaining about trans kids, and now the administration comes up with a win-win solution for everyone, and that’s not good enough either? I cannot explain to you all how deeply unserious these people are. With commenters like this, these meetings have become a joke.
Certainly, the next speaker will be completely normal and talk about real issues happening in our shared reality.
JUST KIDDING, of course they weren’t, folks, we’re in PEORIA!
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for what came next. The speaker, Becky, opened by sharing her complete ignorance for how school boards operate or why executive sessions are needed and perfectly legal when discussing HR decisions. And remember, Heather Rooks also doesn’t understand how executive sessions work, so it makes sense that her followers choose ignorance too.
But what came out of her mouth next was just…I…can’t…even…
Becky was big mad about a fifth grade assignment about bugs as a source of protein. The assignment discussed how many cultures eat bugs as a source of protein and that because of climate change (I’m assuming) Americans may need to embrace eating bugs.
Boy, did that piss Becky OFF! She said that she’s cool with other families eating bugs, but that we shouldn’t be teaching kids about eating bugs. In her infinite wisdom, she said, “we have food, we’re America,” and I had to pause the video because my friend and I were laughing so hard we nearly lost control of our bladders.
AND THEN, she pulled out bags of crickets, mealworms, and roaches and offered members of the board a “snack” to eat. You can watch this spectacle here.
(Apparently there’s a whole [racist] conspiracy theory circulating through the right-wing related to eating insects… who knew?)
For those of you keeping track: so far, one speaker insisted that unisex bathrooms will lead to “nudist colony” bathroom raves, and another brought bugs to a public school board meeting to offer as snacks because her child had to learn about the dietary habits of other cultures.
Next up on the agenda was a travel request that Heather Rooks made a big stink about on her social media because of the focus on SEL and offering workshops on “how to be anti-racist.” So, if you’re not anti-racist, I guess that makes you pro-racist? Asking for a friend.
A bunch of people came up to complain about this professional development opportunity, some of them whining about the “hidden costs.” And by “hidden costs” I mean the costs that were totally part of the agenda and accessible to any member of the public.
🧻USA operative, Tiffany Benson, was back up to oppose this agenda item and referred to SEL and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programming as “bringing back Jim Crow.” I really need to get to know Tiffany better, because hearing her speak at this and SEVERAL MANY other board meetings across the state, she’s the only Black person I’ve ever met that hasn’t experienced racism.
That’s so nice for her, but definitely not the norm in the USA. She ended her speech by saying that if the item is approved, the parents should start a movement to defund PUSD.
Surprise, Tiff-Tiff! The Arizona legislature started that movement long ago, and even overturned the will of the voters last legislative session by allowing millionaires and billionaires access to MY tax dollars to subsidize their children’s private school education.
After Tiffany, another speaker opposed the item and struggled to pronounce “systemic” while explaining that there’s no such thing as systemic racism, and demanded that schools focus on academics (they already are).
Clerk Rooks explained that she read all 48 pages about the workshops, and said that she was concerned about a workshop titled "Everyday Anti-racist Actions Anyone Can Use” saying it was sending the wrong message to staff, students, and community (in what world is being anti-racist wrong?).
She also said that the focus on mental healthcare implies that some parents may not be able to provide their children with mental health supports.
And this is the part of the meeting where I felt like my head was going to explode. As a lifelong educator and a parent myself, all I could think is,
YES, HEATHER, NOT ALL PARENTS HAVE THE RESOURCES OR KNOW WHERE TO GO TO GET THEIR KIDS THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE THEY NEED.
Schools are community centers that can assist families with all kinds of needs. I got most of my vaccinations at my public schools. I talked to my high school counselor about things I couldn’t discuss with my parents in my public school. When I got injured during recess or PE class, I received medical attention from the nurse in my public school.
There’s nothing nefarious or shady about attending to the needs of the whole child, and I can’t help but think that when adults do not want ALL their child’s needs to be met, that they may have something to hide.
Thankfully, PUSD still has a majority of pro-public education members on its board, so the travel requests were approved.
Next, there was an agenda item about the hiring process and criteria for hiring a new superintendent. Clerk Rooks wanted to add the criteria for the new superintendent to have a “lOvE oF cOuNtRy” under the requirements for hiring.
This is such a stupid thing to add to a job description that I have no interest in even writing about it.
I watched this meeting with a friend of mine, and her big takeaway of PUSD was, “this district needs a red wedding.” Though I consider myself a staunch pacifist and would never advocate for violence, her comment made me chuckle.
So here we are, folks. Actual school board members do not want district staff to be anti-racist, and actual adults are bringing bugs to school board meetings as snacks.
Did anyone here have “unisex nudist colony bathrooms'' on their school board bingo card this week? Yeah…me neither.
If you’re like me and wish that school boards could do the actual work of the district instead of wasting time and resources on culture wars, be sure to sign up for our school board support initiative here.
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