Pumpkin Spice, Fall Leaves, and Christofascist BS
Autumn has arrived in Deer Valley Unified School District
Hey, hey, hey, Secular Fam, it’s October, and the scents of pumpkin spice, fall leaves, and christofascist bullsh!t are heavy in the air. So much has happened in the past week, I don’t even know where to start! I’m about to break down the Deer Valley (DVUSD) board meeting, but before that, a quick recap of school board happenings is in order.
Peoria (PUSD) “Christian” Board Member Heather Rooks made it all the way to the Washington Post because she doesn’t know how to read silently. And since Secular AZ was the first organization to educate her on the Constitution and Establishment Clause, we got some national attention as well. You can read our statement about Rooks’ lawsuit here.
Getting national attention is nice and all, but it also meant that the L I B S of T i k T o k Xitter account decided to target me, so that was fun. I refuse to give them any traffic, so you’ll just have to trust me on this. And if you don’t know who they are, you may have heard about how their bigoted rhetoric has resulted in nearly a dozen SCHOOLS (you know, those places where CHILDREN tend to hang out during the week) receiving bomb threats.
Her followers aren’t real bright though, and much like Bug Lady, in PUSD, they don’t know how to use Google, so of course they thought I was an employee of the district and were all demanding I be fired from PUSD. (Shout out to the PUSD district administrators and support staff who probably got a BUNCH of angry emails and calls from neckbeards living in their mom’s basement, demanding I be fired - sorry!).
So between a bunch of ultra MAGA deplorables thinking I work in PUSD (I don’t) and P a t r i o t B a r b i e thinking I’m a reporter (I’m not), last week was eventful and exhausting because there ain’t no hate like Christian (nationalist) love.
But you know what? (Unlike that weird, pro-fascist lady in Paradise Valley) I won’t keep quiet about fascism when I see it, and you shouldn’t either. These entitled, hateful, bigoted bullies can troll me all they want, and I’ll sleep soundly knowing I was on the right side of history.
Now is not the time to be silent, folks, and I encourage you ALL to embrace the Secular Activist Lady™ inside you and get out to your local school board, city council, and/or board of supervisors meeting post haste!
OK, folks! On to the
shitshow Deer Valley (DVUSD) board meeting! Now that Heather Rooks is the Christofascist darling of the religious right, DVUSD Board VP Kim Fisher wants in on the attention, and she threatened on social media to follow suit.
She took to a Facebook group last week asking who Rooks’ attorney is:
Also, do evangelical extremists, like NOT use Google or something? Like, literally typing in Rooks’ name will lead you to the Christofascist law firm that’s defending her. Maybe they all use Bing? Ask Jeeves? It’s weird, but not surprising.
Moving on…the meeting began in regular fashion. The Pledge, Moment of Silence (Board Member Carver asked that we appreciate our privilege because we’re not living in a war torn state/nation), and then we were zooming right into some financial reports.
Have I mentioned that I was an ENGLISH teacher, and NOT a MATH teacher? Like, numbers are NOT my love language, but they’re important (I get it). So big shout out to the math nerds out there who give these updates to folks like me!
falling asleep for a bit listening to this report in its entirety, I contemplated my very existence eagerly awaited the rest of the meeting. Next up? Public Comments!
The first commenters were the couple who has shown up consistently since I’ve been
reporting on providing commentary about DVUSD. These folks seem like nice people who really love their kid(s), and their kid(s) are going through some bullying that seems tough. Again, I hope they get the help and answers they need.
Next up? Everyone’s favorite! Elderly “taxpayers!” These folks know to lead with the fact that they are cErTiFieD tAxPaYerS to give them credibility, but then their diatribes prove that they know absolutely nothing about their school, county, and state budgets. But this is public comment, so folks can say…just about…anything…(also, remember folks, there’s no Arizona statute that requires public comments at school board meetings).
Speaker #1 was ultra-MAGA-angry about the tax increase that totally isn’t happening if the bond/override measure is approved, and basically said the DVUSD school board “cares more about themselves than…taxpayers” completely forgetting that this tax renewal - not increase doesn’t increase the board’s non-existent salary, but ACTUALLY FUNDS THE SCHOOLS IN THE DISTRICT.
He essentially said that kids should be schooled in dilapidated buildings because they’re not worthy of his tax dollars (did this guy even READ about the mishandling of voucher funds??).
And just wait until he finds out that home/micro/private schools don’t need to assess their kids or background-check staff! I’m sure he’ll be hella angry!
Another lovely older lady tried to share poetry for some reason while talking about Common Core, and then another tAxPaYeR was big mad about enrollment, test scores, his tax dollars, “ESG” grades (whatever that means), and teachers, saying that the district gave 44% raises to all its teachers in five years.
FOLKS, when I heard this, I nearly quit my job working for this organization I love so much because that’s DAMN GOOD MONEY!
Except it’s not true. According to people (unlike me) who can actually do math, it’s not even close to that. But hey! This is a school board meeting in suburban America.
aNgRy TaXpAyEr GrAmPs then went on a WHOLE anti-Asian rant about the Taiwanese semiconductor plant moving into North Phoenix that I won’t even get into, but trust and believe, Secular Fam, this is why we need you at board meetings. I was shocked at how racist it got and how no one seemed to bat an eyelash, but the board members really can’t respond, and that’s why we need you!
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He then got lost in a time machine or something because he was complaining about a former board member who is now on the Phoenix City Council, and then (with all his wisdom) gave the district an “F MINUS, BIG TIME, NOT ESG GRADE, REAL GRADE” so we should totally take him seriously.
One sole voice of reason encouraged folks to vote YES on the bond/override and then we were onto the
beating of the dead horse next agenda item about getting an outside firm to process parent and staff surveys. If you recall, Board VP Fisher asserted that the district cannot conduct their own surveys because it violates state statute, and in a show of good faith, Board Member Carver promised he would investigate, and folks! Investigate he did!
Can I just say now that Board Member Carver is making me get EXCITED about state statute? THIS is the kind of thoughtful public servitude we need in these times, y’all! If you would have told me a year ago that I would think that Mr. Carver would be an EXAMPLE of school boardsmanship, I would have called you crazy, but here we are, and I certainly hope to see more of this kind of sensible bipartisan leadership.
Thank you for your service (again), Board Member Carver, you continue to inspire.
Also, y’all, this vote was sooooo performative. They’ve been trying to get this passed, KNOWING that they’re in the minority for a few months. Like, why are you bringing this to a vote that you KNOW you don’t have the votes for?
It makes no sense, and Board Member Ordway challenged them. She pushed back when President Paperman and VP Fisher stated that the “majority of parents and staff” are unsatisfied with the district. She asked where they’re getting their information from. She asked how many teachers and parents they’ve ACTUALLY engaged with.
And folks, I’m straight as an arrow, but this Tuesday evening, my “woman crush Wednesday” came a day early because Ms. Ordway (as usual) was asking all the right questions.
She kept getting rudely interrupted by her fellow board members (we know which ones) and at one point Board Member Fisher said, “All you do is babble” and FOLKS, how Ms. Ordway didn’t reach across the dais and slap her is beyond me. I guarantee she has lessons to teach me.
If VP Fisher was an employee of the district, she would have been fired long ago (this seems to be a lifelong struggle) because this is terminable behavior in a professional workplace.
Next up were more routine matters in the district and then we were onto Superintendent and Board Member reports. Superintendent Finch gave a report touting all of DVUSD’s successes. He spoke about how despite Arizona being in the bottom when it comes to funding, DVUSD continues to outscore many other districts. He addressed the Taiwanese semiconductor plant and the growth it will bring, stating that essentially another Anthem will pop out of the ground in the north valley.
Board reports were next, and Board Member Carver suggested the President or VP go first. So let’s take a moment to talk about the importance of board leadership. What I noticed this school year was a lot of good faith gestures to include evangelical extremists in board leadership.
Despite some districts having a pro-public education majority, they handed leadership roles to extremists (I’m guessing) to show they’re willing to collaborate. These folks do not exhibit the temperament to lead, collaborate, or govern, so I hope that in January, when boards have a chance to reorganize and pick new leadership, they don’t vote in these people.
In fact! Boards can call for a reorganization vote any time they want to (hint, hint).
But DVUSD is stuck with two extremists in leadership positions, so while I appreciate Mr. Carver’s attempt to force them to go first, they aren’t in any way obligated to, and there are advantages to having the last word.
Either way, Board Member Ordway was OVER IT, and said, “oh my god, let’s just stop this” and gave her report, starting by saying, “I hope the kids aren’t watching this.” She gave a routine report about her many school visits, and then, Secular Fam, she dropped a bomb that still has me verklempt as I’m typing this out. Board Member Ordway shared with everyone that she has cancer and will be undergoing chemotherapy treatment and may be missing meetings or phoning in.
And here’s a little nugget y’all might not know. Much like my Pops (hi, Dad!) Ms. Ordway was a lifelong Republican until recently, and that is precisely why school board positions are nonpartisan. All that matters when it comes to school board members is that they actually love and support our public schools. Ann cares about her public schools, and I couldn’t care less if she’s a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Libertarian - so long as she supports the students and staff in her district.
A constituent in her district put together a fundraiser to help her with treatment, and if you’re so moved, please show this tireless public servant some love.
The compassionate response from President Paperman was…underwhelming… watch it here.
Once again, Board Member Simacek (who also happens to be running for the AZ State House in LD2) read her regular speech about how school board members should behave online. Board Member Carver then gave a normal update about school visits and encouraged folks to volunteer at their public schools. Dude really has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the district, and again, I don’t care what your party affiliation is as long as you’re showing up for the kids.
Next up…the moment we’ve all been waiting for…will VP Fisher read scripture as promised?
C’mon, folks, OF COURSE SHE DID! Kim “Pick Me” Fisher chose to read Revelation 3:15-16 “in honor of Heather Rooks” because she is deeply unserious about her role as a board member and her “service” clearly has nothing to do with any kind of altruistic internal calling.
She then complained about how political school boards have become while asking the LD2 Republicans to censure Paul Carver.
She whined about how the board doesn’t work together and I began to wonder if Ms. Fisher owns mirrors because she was describing herself and is so lacking in self-awareness that she doesn’t see how she projects her own behavior on others.
Her myopic, self-serving worldview is really a spectacle to behold, but I don’t recommend it. I do this so you don’t have to, folks.
BUT! That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook! We still need your help. If you’re reading this with a free subscription, consider upgrading. If you’re not a member of Secular AZ, join now and you’ll get cool merch! And if you’re moved to activism and want to get more involved in your local school community, sign up to learn how you can get involved.