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What’s all the Ruckus in Bucks County? – Aug 19, 2022

 

Is This Really How We Can Protect Children?

There’s been a lot of ruckus lately at school board meetings in Bucks County where some really loud voices are crying foul over certain library books, art, and teachers who promote acceptance.

It’s not like other voices aren’t pushing back. In fact, parents have come out in droves in opposition to these measures at recent school board meetings. In spite of the public outrage, the bluster of the culture warriors is morphing into policy as newly elected school board majorities pass radical restrictions on what is read and what is taught. 

The Central Bucks School District recently enacted a book ban that has the potential to decrease access to books of literature, American history, health, and the social sciences. This ban is so extensive it gives any person living in the school district the right to challenge a book and demand its removal from a school library. Call us old fashion but we are having a really hard time buying into the argument that school librarians are soiling the minds of our youth.

Next door in the Pennridge School District the situation is ever more dire. The new school board disbanded their committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), a move condemned by the Bucks County NAACP which argued that the experiences of students of color are being forced to the back of the bus. The Bucks County NAACP pointed out that by her own admission, school board member Joan Cullen said she doesn’t believe there’s systemic racism in our country. That may be her world view, but it’s certainly not one widely held by most White parents, let alone Black and Brown students who report feeling unsafe, unsupported, and disconnected to adults at school because of the many tragic ways that racism still plays out in our society and schools. To make matters worse, the district followed this enlightened action with an edict that prohibits any discussion of gender identity in any grade anywhere in school or school activities.

Teachers shouldn’t be pushing their own political agenda in class. The same goes for school board members in their duty as public servants. These culture war measures send a harmful message to our students, actively divide communities, and will certainly contribute to the academic failure in school districts. 

The champions of the “Don’t say Gay” bills and book bans assert that these measures are intended to protect students. But ask any young child of color or teen that identifies as LGBTQ how it feels to be the target of these outlandish efforts, or better yet take a second to put yourself in their shoes, and that argument simply falls apart.

You can help stop this madness today by letting your state House and Senate member know you don’t support the “Don’t Say Gay” bill (SB 1278) that has already passed the Pennsylvania Senate and is moving through the House. Click here to get the phone number and email of your representative in Harrisburg and tell them that these measures are an assault on our children.

The big take away is that fringe groups came out to vote in Bucks County, electing extremist school board members who are intent on spurring this hateful climate. So let’s agree now that every school board election going forward is as important as the presidential election because at the most fundamental level, these are the elections that ensure that every child feels welcomed in our public schools. That’s among the most important measure we must put in place to protect students and our democracy.

Sign up for Parents Empowered for Change, a new Children First program that trains parents to hold decision-makers accountable for kids’ equality, opportunity, and happiness. If you’re raising children in southeastern PA, join the movement!

According to the PA State Education Association, a major gubernatorial candidate signaled he would cut $12 billion a year from public school funding, leading to teacher cuts and overcrowded classrooms. 

Make a difference in children’s lives by joining our team! We are accepting applications for our K-12 Policy Director, Behavioral Health Policy Project Coordinator, Grants Officer, and Parent Advocacy & Community Engagement Specialist. Apply today and be a part of something extraordinary for kids.

Learn more here.

The schoolhouse is not developing the mental wellbeing of our youth. We need more supports available in schools – that’s where our young people are going for help and the help is not there.”

– Maurice Williams, Philadelphia parent

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