BY JEAN FOSTER
For months, District 5 Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education member Mike Kubiniec has been occupying the Board’s time at meetings with his personal agenda regarding Constitution Day. Kubiniec didn’t come up with Constitution Day. The U.S. Congress did. They did so nearly 20 years ago, and Iredell-Statesville Schools (and every other school in the U.S. that receives Federal funding) has been teaching about the Constitution on that day ever since.
Kubiniec’s presentation about Constitution Day was self-serving
The last part of the working agenda for this past Board meeting on November 6 was an address by Kubiniec about his involvement in Constitution Day on September 18. His presentation shows how utterly uninformed and narrow-minded he is when it comes to public education. He has shown concern only for pushing his own agenda, the agenda of his “puppeteer,” and that of Moms for Liberty (a known hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center). His focus has not been on what is important to educators and students in Iredell-Statesville Schools. Kubiniec stated his volunteers did not provide any content, but at a previous meeting, two of the volunteers who spoke in support of Kubiniec during public comments specifically referenced their “presentations” on Constitution Day.
In his effort to evaluate the success of his involvement in Constitution Day, only Kubiniec’s volunteers were surveyed — not educators or students — so he and his cronies decided they did a good job. That was presented to the public as his proof of the value of his meddling in the curriculum without any backup from the actual stakeholders.
Kubiniec finally admits he didn’t create Constitution Day
Kubiniec has been consistently touting the Constitution Day curriculum as if it were his own idea. He finally admitted in last Monday’s presentation that it is a part of the public school curriculum mandated by the government.
Finding 40 volunteers isn’t something to brag about
Kubiniec’s display of patting himself on the back for finding 40 volunteers to go into the schools for less than an hour each for one day of the school year is indicative of his lack of understanding of the dire needs in our schools. When I talk with educators, the number one desire expressed isn’t for more money in their pockets (though they should certainly have more money in their pockets for the professional positions they hold!) or for supplies or for more staff or any of a long list of possibilities. It is always for more involvement from parents and the community. This school year, I-SS students will collectively attend over 25 million hours (180 days times 7 hours a day times 20,000 students) in our schools. Kubiniec is congratulating himself for finding volunteers for 40 of those 25,000,000 hours.
In contrast, District 3 representative Abby Trent has coordinated efforts to find about 10 volunteers covering five different classrooms at N.B. Mills Elementary School every week to assist students with reading; yet she hasn’t seen a need to waste the Board’s time with how great she is for doing so.
What about finding volunteers for reading and math?
Kubiniec has repeatedly in open sessions at Board meetings (and in illegal meetings via texts), mentioned how our schools are failing and how we need to hold teachers to a higher standard. He references the state-issued report cards based on state testing. Superintendent Jeff James has repeatedly explained that the formula for these scores accurately shows where poverty is in our state and has little to do with the success or failure of our teachers, administrators, and students concerning educational growth. Yet, after Kubiniec’s harping on how our schools are failing, he chose to “help” by rallying volunteers for one tiny piece of curriculum that is not tested instead of finding them for the volumes of state-mandated requirements regarding reading or math. His narrow-minded objective to force his own agenda outweighed the obvious needs of the system.
Kubiniec’s presentation was racist
The percentage of white students in our district (from month two of the School Statistical Data for this school year) is 57.96%. The approximate percentage of white students from the slides that Kubiniec flashed across the screen on Monday night was about 90% (135 of the 150 students shown). I will venture that Kubiniec didn’t even notice that disparity, and if he had, he wouldn’t have cared. Given his way, I would also venture that Constitution Day and every other day of public education should only be for white, straight, able-bodied/able-minded, Christian students. He has disparaged other races and ethnicities in his secret text messages, called to question the need for mental health care for students, ignored the plea for help from LGBTQIA+ students, questioned the need for social and emotional learning, and openly pushed his and Moms for Liberty’s religious and nationalistic beliefs.
Education of I-SS students was not on Board’s agenda
After Kubiniec’s arrogant display of patting himself on the back, the rest of the debacle from Monday night was a feud between those who should be leading our system. It was a demonstration of how NOT to behave for all of our students. My 8-year-old son, who is learning how to deal with big emotions, recently did a presentation for his third-grade class on coping skills. I am hoping the Board will invite him to next month’s meeting so he can present the same information to them. The Board attorney had to step in to stop the in-fighting. The education of I-SS students was nowhere on the night’s agenda and not any part of the Board’s discussion.
This Board is off course and shows little hope of getting back to making any significant, positive impact for our district. They are simply an anvil tied to the feet of our administration, pulling them deeper and deeper out to sea. Mike Kubiniec is doing everything in his power to sink the ship.
What Can You Do?
Volunteer at a school doing something meaningful for an educator. Simply thank an educator. Give an educator a shoulder to lean on and an ear to hear their frustrations. Educate yourself on what’s happening in our system and state. Show up at Board meetings and demand better. Email Board members and demand better. Tell your friends. Contact your state legislators. BE INVOLVED.
Be there for a kid.
Jean Foster is a parent of Iredell-Statesville Schools students and a supporter of public education.