Wokeness Makes Teacher Question Support For Public Schools
Here is an open letter to the West Chester Area School Board:
To: Dr. Bob Sokolowski, Mr. Chris McCune, and members of the WCASB:
As a retired college teacher, mother of two and grandmother of four, all of whom have all attended public schools, I have supported public education all of my life. I have opposed school choice until just recently since I feared that the poorest students with uninformed parents could end up in the worst schools. Over the years I’ve praised the WCASD profusely to neighbors in my local community and also to those in other districts. I have never, even as a senior citizen, complained about school tax increases as long as academics are a top priority in the school district. However, the cultish, CRT-related DEI ideologies that are infecting our public schools (including the WCASD) with their concomitant racist, political, sexual and emotional indoctrinations and propagandizing of our school students have caused a 180 degree turnaround in all of my aforementioned viewpoints. From certain observations, it seems apparent, and is unacceptable to me, that the WCASD is heavily involved in social engineering pursuits to the detriment of academics. However, that is a story for another time.
The duplicitous and evasive manner in which the West Chester school board and administration mishandled the latest fiasco involving the book Gender Queer at the October 25 school board meeting has further diminished my once positive opinion of the WCASD.
DESCRIPTION OF SITUATION AND TIME LINE
- Chris Manos, a district resident, showed pictures from the book Gender Queer to the board and asked board members to raise their hands if they thought the images were pornographic. The school attorney immediately told the board members not to respond and they did not.
Note: I totally understand and agree that board members should not have responded at that time since the rules specify that school board directors are not to answer questions posed of them in the Comments portion of the meeting. I also believe that this is a sensible rule.
- During Mr. Manos’ speech, there was quite a commotion from the audience and the meeting went into a 15-minute recess.
- After the recess, Chris McCune, the board president, stated emphatically…“That book is not in our district, that book is not in a district in our county, that book is not in a district in our state. So therefore it’s not really material to our board meetings.” This statement can be seen in the video of the 10/25 meeting at ~1:15.21 minutes.
Note: This premature statement turned out to be totally false and should never have been made. It would have been more prudent for Mr. McCune to have told the audience that the school board would check into this situation and would reply to Mr. Manos when they acquired more information, but he did not. In fact, not only was Gender Queer a suggested book that was linked to the WCASD web site but it was later found to be in two of WCASD’s high school libraries – East and Rustin.
- The board and WCASD administration then went into damage control. On October 26, Mr. McCune responded to an unidentified person in an email saying: “I have confirmed that the book in question was part of the 2020 recommended reading list for grades 10th through 12th grade on our Equity page. The board will be reviewing this list with the administration.”
The district removed the link the morning after the board meeting so that it can no longer be accessed. However, months before, a watchdog group had made screen shots and recorded URL’s of what had been there previously and included these in the attached document that they compiled, entitled “Compilation and Examination of Portions of the Equity Resources Specified on West Chester Area School District’s Web Site.” The screen shots and live links leading to the Gender Queer book can be found on pp.17-24.
A description of the removal (“scrubbing”) process and before-and-after screen shots are documented in the attachment entitled: “Scrubbing of Link on WCASD Web Site to Gender Queer Book Description.”
- Dr. Sokolowski sent the following mass email to district parents the morning of Friday, October 29:
Subject: Library Book Information
From: ” firstname.lastname@example.org” < email@example.com>
Date: Fri, October 29, 2021 11:31 am
Dear WCASD Parents/Guardians,
It is our goal to provide high-quality, age-appropriate reading materials in our schools. At our most recent School Board meeting, a resident brought a book to our attention that he felt was too sexually graphic. This book, Gender Queer, an American Library Association award-winning text, was in circulation at the East and Rustin school libraries. Upon my review, I immediately pulled both copies to place the book through our administrative review process.
As outlined in School Board Policy 906, any person(s) may bring a book they have concerns about to our attention. Our process is to first review the book with our administrative team. If there are remaining questions or concerns, we then form a committee to review the text and determine whether it is appropriate for our school libraries. This is a process that has been in place for a number of years.
The book in question was brought to us during a School Board meeting, however, our School Board is not involved in the selection of library books or the development of reading lists. The process of how books are selected for placement in our libraries is one that we haven’t examined in many years. We are always looking for opportunities to grow, and we will be evaluating this process with the support of our school librarians. Again, our goal is to provide reading material that is engaging, relevant, and also appropriate.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s principal or me. I wish everyone a great weekend.
Sincerely, Dr. Bob Sokolowski, Superintendent
THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS…
- Mr. Manos was publicly humiliated by the board when they virtually dismissed his concerns about the Gender Queer book as irrelevant by incorrectly noting that this book had no association with the WCASD. At the very least the board and administration owe Mr. Manos a public apology.
- Mr. McCune deserves credit for admitting the very next day that there had been a link to Gender Queer on the WCASD web site; however, I doubt that he had a choice since there were many who had proof of what had been there prior to October 26. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether the “review and update” of the WCASD page less than a day after the school board meeting was because the district genuinely didn’t want a link suggesting a pornographic book on their web site or whether it was an effort to cover up (“scrub”) this link to a suggested book that included graphic sexual images.
- Dr. Sokolowski’s situation is delicate since he has to both accommodate and avoid offending numerous groups – the school board, teachers, parents and taxpayers. However, describing Gender Queer in his email to the parents as “an American Library Association award-winning text,” seems deliberately deceptive in that he whitewashed a book containing pages that innumerable individuals, including myself, consider to be irrefutably pornographic. He never mentioned or took responsibility for the incorrect information that had been presented to the numerous attendees at the school board meeting nor did he apologize to Mr. Manos for the board’s dismissiveness regarding his legitimate concern. The email seemed to be crafted so as to mislead parents who knew nothing about the situation into thinking that this was just a complaint from one resident who thinks that the book is too sexually graphic. I assure you that there are countless parents and taxpayers who share Mr. Manos’ viewpoints! I wish that Dr. Sokolowski had spent the three days before sending out the email to read the book, consult with others, and make a decision as to whether this book is indeed is too sexually graphic to be in our school libraries. However, no such opinion was relayed to parents in the email. Instead, almost the entire email discussed the procedures for reviewing books.
- Certainly, Dr. Sokolowski and the school board cannot vet every single book that is in our school libraries. However, it would seem that the East and Rustin high school librarians should bear some responsibility for allowing such sexually explicit material to be put on their shelves.
- There is absolutely no question that some pages in Gender Queer contain graphic and pornographic sexual images. Some of the text and also some images can be seen in the video of an outraged mother who excoriated the Fairfax, VA school board regarding this book that was in their school library.
Note: I find many of the comments to the video at least as despicable as the book but it is the only video I could find to describe portions of the book.
There are also links to two of the sexually explicit images that Mr. Manos showed the WCASD school board in the boardandliberty.com article noted at the end of this email.
- I want to make it very clear that my strong objection to this book is not that it contains LGBTQ pornographic sexual images; I would object just as strongly if it contained heterosexual pornographic sexual images.
The manner in which this entire episode was handled by the school board and the administration was disappointing and an unfortunate stain on the reputation of the WCASD. This book containing sexually graphic images is just one of numerous examples in which the implementation of the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion ideologies facilitate sexual indoctrinations of our students. Had Mr. Manos not spoken up, Gender Queer would undoubtedly still be on the high school library shelves with possibly more of the same added in the future.
In closing, I strongly urge you to read the attachment entitled “Compilation and Examination of Portions of the Equity Resources Specified on West Chester Area School District’s Web Site.” This was assembled in August of 2021 by a watchdog group in the WCASD. It clearly demonstrates how engrained the CRT-related DEI ideologies are in the WCASD. The examples provided therein are only a tip of the iceberg of what is actually on the WCASD web site.
Thank you for listening.
West Chester, PA
Wokeness Makes Teacher Question Support For Public Schools
Wokeness Makes Teacher Question Support For Public Schools Wokeness Makes Teacher Question Support For Public Schools Wokeness Makes Teacher Question Support For Public Schools Wokeness Makes Teacher Question Support For Public Schools