As we enter the home stretch of this pivotal Waukee school board election on November 2, 2021, it is important for voters to examine the facts.
The best and most reliable source of information comes directly from the candidates. Voters who are still undecided should watch the 2021 Board of Education Candidate Forum hosted by Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce last week. Watch and listen for yourself exactly what each candidate has to say.
In the interest of time, the candidates also worked to compile a list of frequently asked questions and high-level responses. They are all doing their very best to keep up with all the inquiries, so please be sure to attend one of WWU's final events or visit the candidate's individual Facebook pages:
You are all running together – does that mean you all think alike and you’ll all vote together?
Just ask the people who’ve been spending the last 8 weeks with us - we all think very differently! We’re just four parents who came together - by accident - and wanted to give other parents and guardians a voice relative to what their children are learning in public school. And is there a really a difference having one sign in your yard with 4 names on it versus having four separate signs in your yard with four separate names? It’s absolutely normal for candidates to align on big issues; we're pretty sure the other 4 candidates do. We came together at the last minute with no experience running a campaign and no funding. Running four separate campaigns would have been difficult and very expensive, so we teamed up simply to maximize our resources and time.
Are you backed/funded by the GOP?
No. Neither our committee, nor any of the individual candidates, are "backed by the local Republican Party" financially or otherwise. All WWU candidates and volunteers are brand new to the political process. We are 100% grassroots and have never accepted donations from the Republican Party. One of our goals is keeping politics out of the classrooms as best we can, so we made a commitment early on to stay focused on the teachers, parents, students and taxpayers in our district - not political party affiliations.
Why are you worried about Critical Race Theory, when it’s not even being taught at Waukee?
We are not suggesting Critical Race Theory (master's level coursework) is being "taught" at Waukee. We are concerned about the "principles of Critical Race Theory" being introduced through policy, literature and curriculum in our schools. CRT is a spinoff of conflict theory, and conflict theory is rooted in a system of winners and losers, oppressors and victims. Any mention of systemic racism, whiteness, white privilege, intersectionality, identity grouping, social justice, and activism are CRT principles.
Why don’t you support Equity Standards passed by the WCSD board in 2020?
The current Board passed a set of policies and standards that originated, word-for-word, from Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Learning for Justice (https://www.splcenter.org/learning-for-justice). The mission statement on that page says “to be a catalyst for racial justice, work to dismantle white supremacy and strengthen intersectional movements.” These divisive words and phrases all come straight from the CRT playbook, which makes many parents and students in the Waukee district uncomfortable. Several parents wrote letters and pleaded with the board for an opportunity to come together as a community and "re-do" these policies, but 5 of the 7 school board members voted to move forward with the same equity standards that originated from the SPLC. Again, we are not suggesting Waukee is "teaching" CRT. Our concern is that CRT principles have surfaced in many places - verbally, in school policies, on website headers, classroom posters, videos, books and other materials - which opens the door for CRT to make its way into the hearts and minds of all our kids.
Do you support the CDC guidance on masks?
We support following state law and local public health department guidelines. We are thankful our infection rates at Waukee remain low and we don’t need to require the extreme mitigation protocols like we did last year. That said, we fully support parents and guardians deciding what’s best for their children’s health. Parents and their family medical providers should be able to decide if their child needs to wear a mask or not.
Without a mask mandate, how do you propose protecting and providing quality education for high-risk children and teachers?
We believe there are too many variables at play for the district to mandate a one-size-fits-all approach. No mask mandates means putting high risk teachers and kids at risk. Requiring masks is almost impossible to enforce and puts learning and hearing impaired students at a terrible disadvantage. A district the size of Waukee - with its ample resources - should be able to develop an innovative, hybrid solution that keeps everyone safe, yet still learning.
How can you support forcing students to say the pledge of allegiance in school?
We are all very concerned if students are feeling “forced” to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Iowa HF 420 was passed because reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is shown to instill a sense of unity and pride in our kids. The law does not, however, allow schools to compel students to say it. We absolutely believe in 1st amendment rights and students cannot be forced to say the Pledge if they or their parents don’t want to.
What’s wrong with students declaring pronouns?
Our biggest concern is that depression and suicide is rising faster than ever - especially in the LBGTQ community. With gender fluidity being such a personal decision for young developing minds, the school should handle it with more care than simply filling out a form declaring pronouns. Our students should have access to trained, trusted professionals when faced with major life decisions of this magnitude.
Of equal concern is that Waukee is encouraging students to navigate through issues like this without parental involvement! Working privately with students to keep their identity a secret from their parents or guardians is a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Schools have our children for a season. Parents have their children for a lifetime - they should never be kept in dark.
Why are you attacking teachers with lies and false stories taken out of context?
This is a false narrative being promoted by people who oppose our platform. We love our teachers. They have an extremely difficult job that most of us could not handle for an hour - let alone 5 days a week. We do not question the quality of Waukee teachers or their intentions toward our kids. All we want is more resources, support and better training to help them navigate through our changing times. Imagine being a teacher in a class of 30 kids, some who are off the charts smart, some with learning disabilities, some with English as a second language, others horsing around, one kid asking to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes and most of them on their cell phones? When is there time for our teachers to teach?? We fully recognize and respect what our teachers must deal with everyday. This is all the more reason to maintain the utmost trust, transparency and open-dialogue in a collaborative parent-teacher-student relationship.
The school board is supposed to be nonpartisan, but WWU is clearly right-wing?
We've all been called a lot of things since launching this campaign, and sadly, that is about the nicest one. And what is "right-wing" when it comes to serving on a school board? We really wish everyone could stop putting labels on each other. We are just parents just trying to serve our community. If we could all agree to get rid of that rhetoric and spend more time talking about ways to improve the lives of our teachers and students, there would be little room for misinterpretation of what all these labels even mean.
If all four WWU candidates get elected, will there be enough diversity of thought on the board?
If you look at voting patterns over the past few years, there's a majority of sitting board members who consistently vote the same way. We're proud that we considered "outsiders" of the educational establishment. Isn't that the point of a board in the first place - to bring in unique ideas, perspectives and experiences? There's no doubt the four of us are strong enough in who we are to review issues objectively and make independent decisions based on the facts and needs of our constituents.