By Brian Cameron
I know the 24 hour news cycle can be exhausting but if I have your attention for a moment I’d ask you to think all the way back to the 2020 presidential election. Many of us voted, and many of us watched as Biden was elected as the 46th President of the US. There, right there, lies the schism within our society that I fear only grows, a division that we are now only beginning to deal with. That moment marked the beginning point of an effort, a willingness to bring the battleground to our backyards, or… more specifically, our schools.
Shortly after the loss of Donald Trump in 2020 we saw responses from across the spectrums of enjoyment and sadness, liberal and conservative, and so on. But just under that surface an effort was in full swing. A reddened scar from a year’s worth of government shutdowns, a reduction to family income during a time of uncertainty, actions that took a toll on the everyday American. This effort was spelled out directly, and broadcast live across conservative media nationwide. Tillamook’s own Lars Larson even took part in the effort to influence listeners to run for political office, specifically, their local school boards. But it wasn’t just Lars, it was Hannity, Carlson, and countless others, all saying the same thing… ‘run for your local school board.’
In order to really discuss this we need to look at what COVID did to Tillamook County. Sure, it took a toll, but it was never the doom and gloom that we were all bracing for, and in fact by many measures our first real wave happened with Delta in the summer of 2021. But COVID also took a toll on the fabric of our society, it put the classroom into the home, forced us all to look at simple things like masking as a hotly contested contemporary issue. Remember sanitizing your groceries, me too. It brought us to the bevel’s edge. And in times of strife it’s easy to find a boogeyman, someone to place the blame for how you’re dealing with environmental stress. America didn’t have to look far, for the last 40 years we’ve been lowering the bar of criticism toward one another. Our boogeymen were the same ones we’ve been using every election cycle. The gun enthusiasts, the vegans, the millennials, the boomers, the religious, the atheist, the black, and the white. COVID, and the wanton actions of an ex-elected official, gave many that reason, that extra push. But, I digress.
Lars, Hannity, Carlson, and the like were all asking their listeners, encouraging them to run, to get involved. Which on the surface is fine right? It is everyone’s civil right, and duty by some standards, to serve their community in some fashion or another. But what if there is a motivation behind the push? How would one even begin to see it?
Last fall things got pretty heated at the Tillamook School District’s monthly meeting, it had everything to do with vaccine mandates, masking guidelines, and the like. But there was a piece of new business on the agenda that had got some traction prior to that after some parents complained about a rainbow bulletin board in one of our local grade schools. The effort by a recently elected board member was in the form of a petition to remove the words “Diversity” and “Equity” from our local school district policies. Now, I’m not a legal scholar, but removing those types of terms in district policy sounds like the kind of thing that could land the district into legal hot water. There are others issues too, some are known to be anti-science, which is another concern altogether. I mean, will this affect STEAM programs because of personal belief or bias by members of the board? Normally I’d say no, but this is a changing landscape.
I’ve been on the fence about writing this for some time, but this isn’t a time for complacency. They stormed the US Capitol, best not forget that. Just today, in early February, I read an article about Florida Governor Ron Desantis, and his new effort to go after the Florida school district’s “diversity and equity” policies. This is not a one-time effort, this is not an isolated incident of one person thinking we should try something new. This is a concerted effort and we need to start seeing this for what it is, an erosion of our civil rights and liberties. They’ve brought the fight to our school houses. Please vote accordingly. Please be involved. Please show up, because the voices that are trying hard to limit yours, they’re showing up too.