What Would a Republican Majority Mean?
We here at KOFEE are defending our schools from a slate of candidates that have a very specific agenda. They wish to obtain a “Republican majority” so they can push a partisan agenda. You can see the details in the letter they recently sent to voters here. To gain that majority, they need to win only two of the five seats that are on the ballot on Nov 7. Sitting board members Jason Koch, Jeremiah Light and Erin Engel are already poised to carry out the agenda that was pledged by the Yellow Sign group, but they need two more puppets to vote along with them. The candidates we oppose are officially endorsed by the Berks County GOP, which means they are falling in line with all of their demands. Let’s take a look at what it will mean for our schools if they succeed on Nov 7.
If they gain a majority, they will be able to pass or repeal any and all policies they wish. Here are a few examples that foreshadow what we see happening:
The BCRC pledge tells us that the Yellow Sign school board candidates’ number one goal is to repeal our Educational Equity Policy (Policy 809). Here is the previous policy (Policy 832) that WAS rescinded and replaced by policy 809, for your historical reference, because of Yellow Sign-aligned community members. Can you imagine campaigning against the things in this policy?
Policy 809 ensures that the district, for example:
identify and address barriers to achievement
provides curriculum, instruction and assessment that is adaptive and responsive to the students
makes available resources and supports necessary for each student to succeed (this is equity)
creates a welcoming and safe school environment
“Safe spaces are a mistake” says Brad Myers
As they fight against this policy, they wish to allow hate speech in our schools. They do not think a safe school environment is a good idea - citing the idea that “the world is not welcoming so kids should get used to feeling unwelcome” and saying out loud that “safe spaces are a mistake.”
“The mistake behind concepts of safe spaces, a welcoming environment, or having to value a student's religious or political beliefs is that we are first creating an attitude of entitlement… we live in a world filled with disagreement, and children need to learn what respectful disagreements look like. We're not serving our children by creating an attitude of entitlement just so they can become torn down after they graduate.“
-Brad Myers Candidate video on rumbl.com
This indicates that these school board candidates' agenda is to provide an environment that makes learning MORE DIFFICULT for certain students. Do we want our community to act like this?.
“Performance gaps are inevitable” says Reba Hoffman
Greatschools.org reports that the Kutztown student body is 23.9% low income and that low income students have test scores that are half (45%) of what other students have (89%).
Reba “Cortés” Hoffman said in a published video that she:
doesn’t believe Americans suffer from ‘real’ poverty
doesn’t believe in white privilege, but believes the ‘real privilege is living in America’
does believe that Americans should be grateful for what they have rather than jealous by what other people have
The poverty rate in Berks County is 40%, but Reba says “when a country like ours values freedom, it is inevitable that there will be different outcomes for individuals.” Do we want a school board that will allow and even encourage those results to continue?
Communities in Schools
Communities in Schools (CIS) is an example of a program that would have been canceled if the Yellow Sign candidates had a majority on the board on 8/21/2023. Communities in Schools’ mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CIS says “we are a team of caring adults, trained to do whatever it takes to keep kids coming to the classroom ready to learn.” They help families that need food, clothing, and basic essentials. They are the face of consistency when students need someone to check in with about stress at home and the face of encouragement when students need some extra help achieving their goals. The program helps students in need!
Can you imagine voting against such a program? The 3 sitting yellow sign board members did - and our neighbors at Brandywine School District have lost this program because of the Republican agenda. Thank goodness the other 6 sitting board members have common sense and care for our students and voted YES for this program, which will help many of our students.
Forbidding anything they don’t like
Did you hear about the cancellation of the One School, One Book Program earlier this year? Middle school teachers applied for and received a grant to purchase a book for each child in the middle school so they could read the book all together and discuss it as a school. The chosen book was “Two Degrees” by Alan Gratz, a very popular author with this age group. The book is about teenagers dealing with issues related to climate change: forest fires, melting ice, and hurricanes. It is a fiction book that gives kids lots to think about and discuss. Yellow sign-aligned members of our community opposed this book, saying that it was indoctrination of students! They want the “other side” of climate change to be taught. They don’t believe in the science of climate change. Do you really want our public schools to be teaching students things that go against established scientific facts? The Republican agenda does! They cried loudly enough to get the superintendent to cancel this program. It was a shame!
Individual families that wanted to have their children exempted from this assignment could have done so. However, instead of going through the proper procedure, they chose to demand the removal of the opportunity from ALL students to suit the wishes of a FEW community members. Not only did the kids lose out on an awesome program, but the teachers had the rug pulled from underneath them. Talk about a morale-killer! This kind of censorship will bring lawsuits in the future. To learn more about the definition of censorship, see here.
Censorship was also seen in our schools when the book “Gender Queer” was objected to by members of the community. Here is the WHOLE story, not just a piece brought to you in a lie-filled propaganda video. First, a community member brought concern for the book to the school’s attention, as anyone in the district rightly can. Then, a committee was formed to review the book: the committee consisted of community members, administrators, librarians, etc. They all read the book in its entirety and met multiple times to discuss it. The committee collectively determined that the book is not pornography and does not need to be removed from the high school library. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Barry Flicker, high school principal and member of the review committee, brought the book to the board. At that time, the board was made to discuss and vote on the appropriateness of the book – negating all of the hard work of the committee and the proper procedures that had been taken. In the end, Gender Queer was made to require a permission slip to be viewed or checked out of the library. Today, if a student picks the book off the shelf, they will find that the book is fake and a permission slip is inside.
Where does it end?
One reason that Gender Queer in particular has been singled out is because of its description of LGBTQ sexual experiences. We know from watching other districts that this agenda does not end with this single book. After Gender Queer, any books featuring LGBTQ characters or themes could be targeted. This has happened in Florida. In Alabama, they removed so many LGBTQ books that a picture book whose author’s last name was ‘Gay’ got flagged for removal from school libraries.
In Iowa, Republicans have passed a state law that censors any books that feature ‘sexual acts’ leading to over 400 books being removed from school shelves. This starts with Gender Queer, for sure, but goes on to include multiple books by Judy Blume, Toni Morrisson, Margaret Atwood, as well as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. (I hope that Yellow Sign candidates don’t learn that all of Shakespeare’s roles were performed by men, or the English department will have no curriculum left.)
Yellow sign candidates want to CENSOR and BAN more books and materials. Banning is defined as ‘restricting access to materials’ - these Yellow Sign Candidates love to say they haven’t banned the book, because students can still order the book on Amazon. For our low income students living below the poverty line, this book is effectively banned. They do not want individual students or parents to be allowed to decide what is right for their own child. Instead, they want to take away those rights in favor of their narrow views.
We need you to vote for rational candidates
On November 7, please make a plan to vote! Polls are open from 7am-8pm. You can see your sample ballot here. Please vote for KOFEE-endorsed candidates for school board to avoid a Republican majority! For Region 1 (Kutztown Borough) we endorse Caecilia Holt and Laurel Zielger. For Region 2 (Maxatawny/Lyons) we endorse Dennis Ritter and Char Horst. For Region 3 (Albany/Greenwich/Lenhartsville) we endorse Charles Brown.