By Tanner Rowe
It is no coincidence this year’s race for Mead School Board is highly contested – as are many around the country. The board represents the only elected positions within a school district, and therefore the only positions that truly answer to voters and parents.
For the Mead race the fuse was lit in August 2022. Michael Cannon proposed two policies attempting to curb political ideology being injected into Mead curriculum through state policies. The first would ensure that any literature discussing gender ideology – which maintains there is a difference between sex and gender, that gender is a spectrum, and denies the significance of biological sex for personal identity – would not appear in K-5 libraries. The second would exclude critical race theory and would protect quality civics education and academic discourse.
Cannon’s first proposal was necessary because gender-inclusive and anti-discrimination policies from the state schools superintendent, as well as the Washington State School Directors’ Association’s Policy 3211 on gender-inclusive schools, are rife with gender ideology. For example, those policies state that students should be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity – meaning a biological male may use the locker room or restroom of female students. These policies also require the students’ preferred pronouns be used. Failure to do so could be considered bullying, harassment and discrimination. This is compelled speech codified by the state. These ideas do not belong in K-5 education, literature or praxis.
His second proposal was to counter SB 5044: An act relating to equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in the public school system, which Gov. Inslee signed into law on May 5, 2021. While the act’s proponents claim the bill does not promote critical race theory, many of us see it as the obvious outcome. The bill requires public educators to undergo diversity and equity training – likely rooted in the theory, which looks at how race intersects with Western culture in an effort to dismantle what it defines as institutional or systemic racism. Our children should not be taught to view the world and their peers through the lens of race.
The opposition in support of Cannon’s proposals at the September 2022 board meeting was the culmination of concerted efforts by Lisa Fairbanks-Rossi (the librarian for Midway Elementary) and other leftist activists in and outside of the district. The school board voted down both proposals.
The fight to protect our children continues with this school board election. Candidate Jaime Stacy has been praised by Fuse Washington (her largest donor) for organizing the community against “MAGA extremists” and Cannon’s policies. Those “extremists” were simply parents who agreed with the policies.
During the September board meeting Trish Henry, Mead curriculum coordinator and district librarian, gave a presentation stating that there is no critical race theory or gender ideology literature in Mead curriculum nor in the district libraries. The following day parents found literature by prominent author Ibram X. Kendhi and other authors espousing elements of critical race theory, as well as books in which children question their sexual identity in the district’s library. At minimum Henry was willfully ignorant in her presentation.
The district was told that gender ideology was not promoted, supported, or present in our district. Yet Mountainside Middle School hosts the Mountainside Pride Alliance Club put on by Mountainside teacher Devon Del Rosario. The club uses district resources and sells merchandise in the student store to raise money for activist organizations like Odyssey Youth Movement, a youth LGBTQ activist organization in downtown Spokane.
Denny Denholm, current board member running for re-election, went along with this charade and stood against Cannon’s policies. Stacy was present and opposing the policies alongside the leftist activists she knows and associates with.
Denny Denholm, Jaime Stacy and David Knaggs will tell you they have no political agenda and there is no political activism from Mead faculty as it pertains to district policies and our children. The organization of leftist activists and the charade put on by district faculty to shut down the concerns of Mead parents in last year tells quite a different story.
Vote to stop political ideology in Mead’s curriculum and praxis. Vote to end the political activism and left-wing bias of Jaime Stacy, Denny Denholm and David Knaggs in our district.
Vote for your rights as parents to be heard and respected. Vote for transparency and honesty. Vote for Alan Nolan, Jennifer Killman and Michael Cannon.
Tanner Rowe is a 2002 graduate of Mt. Spokane High School and parent of a Mead student. He is a field engineer for directional drilling operations in the oil and gas industry. He serves as a Republican precinct officer.
Editor’s note: This column was updated to correct the month of the meeting during which Trish McHenry presented information.