I interviewed co-organizer Matt Simmons at length, and he cited the roots of this activism, which was awakened this year, in line with many parents around the country. Just this week, Bill Maher pushed back against the “woke” takeover, saying that it’s ‘disingenuous’ to say parents oppose Black history, promoting nuance and real conversation. It reminds Matt of when people had canvassed the neighborhood and informed them about Critical Race Theory already entering the Los Alamitos school district earlier this year, one where I actually presented at, which featured a multicultural group of speakers communicating their perceptions around CRT.
Soon after, Matt, a concerned father of two, a 9-year-old in 4th grade and 12 year old in 6th grade in the public schools, was frustrated at having to help his son with an assignment about pros and cons of school uniforms. And as the assignment progressed, it started talking about sexism and then about transgenderism. “That was a crazy concept to start explaining to a 3rd grader at the time”.
In 6th grade, the teachers started introducing gender pronouns. “A teacher spent an entire class talking about bullying. He was rewarding people who were writing hurtful things on a whiteboard, and then into cussing. Students were confused. This is a tremendous amount of power to hand to a child. Some children started changing their pronouns at a whim and making a joke out of it”.
Matt’s concerns were very honest: can we make best use of time, focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic, instead of premature conversations that should be left at home, which have become the central focus of education. Matt cites the last year on Zoom where parents got to see how much time was being wasted. Now, these vaccine mandates are adding more frustration and demonstrate the overreach. “They have this attitude towards us that is so transparent, that we are a nuisance to them. They don’t care about the parent’s complaints. They were more concerned about the money their school district wouldn’t get if they didn’t comply with mask mandates”
Matt posed the question of balancing the masks questions to his son, trying to be open minded and a critical thinker, “what if some people believe one way and others believe in another, regarding masks or any issue, what does the board do?” His son said, “I would put my personal views aside and go with the best argument. You listen.” However, there is such a strong opposition by those in power, to even listen.
The evidence of their strong reaction to even listening, was at the actual protest. Surprisingly and unexpectedly at this gathering, the School Board President Marlys’s sister and a friend (pictured) showed up to “protest the protestors” but they first zeroed in on Lauren Roupoli, the parent who was on the receiving end of the “FU” slur.
The hubris is what has brought the trustees to the point where they can outright cuss out the parents and community they work for or to make passive aggressive comments like “oh, here we go” before Chinese American parent Clare Chu went up to the mic to address the board. Dare I say this was slightly racist and at best, ignores Marlys’ stated values in her online bio, saying she’s there to listen to everyone. Behavior like this shuts down conversation.
I chatted with Clare, and she made some great points, like Matt, as a parent in the Los Alamitos school district. “Most of my life I have pursued democracy and freedom from China to Hong Kong to coming to the US in 1998. I cannot accept Critical Race Theory to be put in the curriculum. This is a peaceful and beautiful neighborhood; we don’t want this kind of hatred here. In my eyes, it’s one nation. I am American, and we identify, regardless of whatever color they are.”
When asked about how the board was handling differences in opinion, Clare made some powerful points: “Most importantly, Marlys being a teacher and now a trustee, that speech and attitude showed she took it personally, when instead, they must be humble and listen to the parents. I wish our board members could listen to us and coordinate with us. We cannot give them comments or criticism. The first board meetings to get the comments on CRT and mask mandates, the people who supported their agenda were put first to speak and any opposition was put last.”
There is now a new special interest group and it’s the parents. For too long, their interests have been put aside while the teacher unions have become increasingly political. Today, we sit at a breaking point where parents are fed up.
The bottom line is the lack of humility. The reason is an increasingly intolerant political class that has infiltrated the school board and many local positions like city council, but people are slowly waking up. This is why Edward Durr, a South Jersey commercial trucker, was able to oust the Senate Leader in New Jersey, with only $153 spent by his campaign. This was a clear show of the power of the grassroots and more people engaging the civic process, specifically parents, driven by key issues like CRT and the arrogance of activist trustees from the left who are now in positions of power.
Marc Ang ([email protected]) is a community organizer in Southern California and the founder of Asian Industry B2B who helped organize and spark the Los Alamitos protests, and specializes in race relations and the minority conservative experience. His book “Minority Retort” will be released in late 2021
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