BY BETH KENDALL
There was an accident, so traffic was at a standstill.
The gravitational pull of the moon causes the tides of the ocean.
I stuck to a training plan, so I finished my race strong.
Cause and effect is a concept we all learn in grade school, and we see it play out in hundreds of circumstances every day. The older we get, the easier it becomes to game out scenarios. Sometimes we can almost predict the future based on the simple rules of cause and effect we learned when we were children.
Last week the text messages written by current members of the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education were revealed to us, the voters of Iredell County. These messages included clear instances of breaking open meetings laws (and making light of it), attempts to stifle student-led, after-school events because the board members did not like the message or the messenger, discrimination against LGBTQIA + students and the struggles they may face, and the dehumanization of students at Statesville High and the faculty and staff. Any one of these is terrible, but taken together it truly makes one question why any of these people chose to serve on the I-SS School Board, whose stated mission is “to enable ALL students to achieve their academic potential and lead productive and rewarding lives.”
Historically in North Carolina, school boards have been nonpartisan. In this system voters choose school board members based on their qualifications, their previous experience, and their reputation in the community—instead of a letter beside their name. Until 2016, Iredell-Statesville Schools was a nonpartisan school board. Since that time there has been a rise of partisan school boards across North Carolina. It took four years for the school board here to consist entirely of Republicans, and two more years to deliver a majority of extremist members from the far right-wing of the GOP. Cause and effect.
Why, you might ask, is it a bad thing simply to identify political party in a school board race? People already identify themselves by party affiliation, whether its Democrat, Libertarian, Republican, Unaffiliated, etc. If they are running for office, why shouldn’t voters see that? The problem is when people ONLY see that information, and SOLELY use it to make their decision. School boards are about inherently local issues. Partisan labels distort these local issues and allow for distraction from them. Candidates aren’t forced to take a position on a local issue they will actually impact, when they can ride the partisan wave of an election cycle. This leads to ideological candidates who care more about an extremist agenda than the work — in this case of improving schools, encouraging teachers and educating ALL students. Cause and effect.
Four of the stars of the text messages, Brian Sloan, Abby Trent, Michael Kubinek, and Anita Kurn were elected in this most recent election cycle. They won their elections, but did they win because of the campaigns they ran or because of the R beside their names? This school board is a picture, the dictionary definition, of extreme partisanship run amok. Every one of those school board members involved in the illegal text meetings should resign. Their conduct is far too egregious to continue to serve as a leader in our community.
If this is the effect of partisan school board elections, shouldn’t we instead be pushing our local leaders, who can impact bills in the North Carolina General Assembly, to point to this school board as a cautionary tale? Instead of pushing for more partisan school boards, push for a system where the best, most qualified candidates win. There is currently legislation pending in the General Assembly to make more school board elections partisan contests. We need to encourage our state senator, Vickie Sawyer, and state representatives Jeff McNeely, Mitchell Setzer and Grey Mills to vote against this, but also to lobby their colleagues to do likewise.
Most people across the state — and I would venture to guess most people everywhere — actually want less partisan politics in their daily lives. Republican lawmakers are hurling it upon the unwilling people of our state, and last week here in Iredell County we saw the consequences.
Tell your legislators to roll back the party politics. School boards are too important to be left to the mercy of partisan politics. The effects are far too dire.
Beth Kendall is the chairwoman of the Iredell County Democratic Party.
IFN Investigation: Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education violated N.C. open meetings law more than 30 times
30 thoughts on “Viewpoint: This is what happens when voters elect partisan extremists to the school board”
Thank you for your thoughtful insights. I wonder if we’ll ever hear from the Iredell County Republican Party trying to defend these people’s words and actions? Or will they leave it up to the usual angry posters who are sure to comment here?
Not a member of a political party. I’m not happy about the BoE breaking rules. You lose credibility when you use the label “Extremist”. Try to be original next time. Be better at selling your point. Chastising the board for being partisan while using the Democrat playbook causes your argument to lose credibility. People are tired of both sides taking swipes at each other without common sense logic.
Agree. First words from the liberals is to label anyone who disagrees with them an Extremist.
Beth, thank you for saying what needs to be said — over and over — until it sinks in with voters in this de facto one-party state of Iredell County. They vote for people who are single-minded and have narrow, dangerous agendas to push through, and those they elect certainly don’t represent everybody who lives here. Also it is difficult, no, it is impossible to communicate with legislators — Sen. Sawyer and Rep. McNeely — about issues that concern me personally. I have written both of them more than once and have never gotten a response from either — not even an acknowledgement that they received my email. So I wonder how we can encourage them or have our voices heard when they won’t even listen to a third of us. At least the former I-SS school board members answered me when I wrote. None of the four new board members who were elected in November (Brian Sloan, Abby Trent, Michael Kubiniek, and Anita Kurn) should be overseeing a public school system. I predicted the day after the results were announced it would only go downhill and it did not take long for them to prove it. We all deserve better representation locally and statewide.
We see here exactly what was forecasted in the Bible. Confused people are so evil they call evil good and good evil. There will be a day you will stand before the one true God and you beg forgiveness but it will be too late. Democrats have tried for to long to destroy our children’s mind with perversion. It’s about time for Godly men and women to say “NO MORE!”
Larry, the God I worship is okay with me loving Him with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my mind, and secondly loving my neighbor as myself and leaving the rest of it to Him. He knows far better than I what to do.
Folks like Larry want you to respect god, as long as it’s the same one he does. Larry doesn’t want to accept the FACT that the US is a secular nation. Look up the Treat of Tripoli, Larry. When you get finished reading that, step on into the US Constitution and read the First Amendment. If you have trouble comprehending any of it, visit the local library and ask for some help. Those ladies are very knowledgeable and will gladly explain civics and government to you.
Your bible also encourages slavery, murdering children by bashing them against rocks, and all other kinds of wonderful things that you folks expose children to at a very early age. But that’s ok, right? Your imaginary friend said so.
There is not one word in that book that isn’t interpreted by man. You put your faith in that man to be truthful. That’s on you. Expecting others to do the same is where the problem lies. You folks are all so concerned about us heathens going to your imaginary hell and god’s word and blah blah blah, yet you can’t do the one civil thing that makes the most sense in that book: love one another.
Believe what you want to believe. But your imaginary friend doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. I don’t care if you like it or not; that’s your business. I don’t want to live under Baptist rules or guidelines any more than I want to live under Muslim laws, or Mormon, or Scientology, or any other for that matter.
Christianity is declining and these folks know it. The access to information that the digital age brought has opened the eyes and brains of millions of people in this world to what a grifting scam religion really is. It’s just a matter of time, and they know it. Where on earth will the next generations of these people that are expected to keep the grift going come from?
Organized religion is a business. The different denominations are all battling for market share. It’s as simple as that.
Beth you are so right! I hate it when extremists hijack school boards and try to allow books and teachings to our young kids on subjects such as same sex marriage and how to perform oral and anal sex. Or pass “equity” rules that permit kids to go to the bathroom in a litter box because they think they are a cat or dog. Or hey, if you feel like a girl but you are a boy you should be allowed to enter the girls bathroom with someones daughter. Extremists are everywhere, I guess you can label “rule breakers” extremists if you’d like. This BOE isn’t perfect but I’ll take them over the alternative 😉
Dude, you need to put down the internet and join us back in the real world.
And now, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a “state of emergency” on Monday in an attempt to stop a school choice bill from passing the state legislature, but he sent his own kid to a private school.
I had the same reaction. A partisan editorial to a partisan event. It diluted your message. That said….far to many people vote from a poorly informed basis. They do more research buying a coffee pot than they do electing officials.
Democrats have done it for decades and hate when it’s not in their favor.
I don’t agree with what was done, but don’t act like its never been done before. Especially by your own party.
Here we go again, the left hand blaming the right hand…..BTW Ms. Kendall, there is no such thing as non-partisan and you know that.
Ideology, upbringing and many other factors form ones beliefs. There is no middle ground when it comes to allowing a male who thinks he’s a female to use the women’s bathroom. Get real, Ms. Kendall, and the rest of you who believe this nonsense.
You are right. School boards should not be partisan. Unfortunately, Democrats have gone off the deep end and their policies have caused voters to fight back. This is not John Kennedy’s party anymore.
Nonpartisan is the way to go. A school is about kids — not your stupid agenda.
The words the BOE members used and language they used makes them extremist… the truth is in the label because of what they said, not because Beth called them that.
No, gender identity is obviously the most important thing. Wait, it’s DEI for sure. Maybe it’s Colonialism and all those people the chest feed but identify as Minor Attracted Persons. I didn’t get my talking points today. Forgive me, Dr. Dank. I’m sure you’ll be game for a condescending response. You seem to live on here. Clearly, you have achieved the heights no one else could EVER attain. You exude everything that is wrong with society. You are a Narcissist. I do not care about your self-important opinion.
No, I just speak the truth. I’m sorry you can’t accept it or handle it.
“You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. You can’t handle the truth!” A Few Good Men was a great movie. Unfortunately, I doubt it applies here. It seems attacking a religious group may not be a persuasive approach. It’s insulting. True or not. It’s bigotry and shows a poor argument.
Past elections prove that more people vote when candidates are designated. Sounds democratic to me.
They won’t resign. They need to be removed immediately. I don’t want these people making decisions for my children’s safety!
The move to make local elections partisan is also occurring in bills to move local elections to even-numbered years. By doing so, local non-partisan contests become de facto partisan contests in areas dominated by one political party. Ironically, the General Assembly passed legislation in the early 1970’s to hold all local elections in odd-numbered years because they believed local elections should be non-partisan. Yet, our own Senator Vickie Sawyer tried to slip a bill by to move MGSD School Board and Mooresville Town Commissioners elections to even-numbered years. The bill did not include Statesville, Troutman, Harmony, or Love Valley…only Mooresville. She said the other municipalities did not want to be included, yet Mooresville was not asked. She even failed to bring it up at a Legislative Breakfast with the MGSD Board of Education that occurred at the time she filed the bill. As a member of the MGSD Board of Education, I believe party politics should never impact educational decisions.
So Mrs Marsh, using your logic, the general assembly should be not partisan as well, correct? I’m assuming I’m correct since they make a ton of educational decisions.
Sounds like you are afraid you’ll lose your seat, no?
The General Assembly has inserted itself into educational decisions that should be left to professional educators. It’s oddly ironic that the party in power champions less governmental regulation, yet continues to micro-manage traditional public schools only. They choose not to impose the same regulations on charter schools and have no power to regulate private schools. Yet, they are only increasing funding to the schools with the least accountability. To your last question, I don’t operate out of a desire to merely stay on the Board. I speak out. I advocate. I educate. I serve on numerous boards affecting the children of Iredell County. I gain nothing personally by serving on the MGSD Board or any others. I do this because it has been my life’s purpose for the last 40 years to provide the best education possible for all children.
DR. Marsh will be just fine whether the election is partisan or not. Perhaps don’t assume about people. It’s interesting that you feel like people who believe in doing what is best for public schools are automatically Democrats. That says a lot. Also, it could be argued that the NCGA should make fewer educational decisions since very few of them have any experience in the field and their decisions are often not in support of public schools or their employees.
When you recognize that religion is one of the main motivators of these folks, and every other Republican in this country, maybe you’ll agree with me. Religion has no place in publicly funded areas. Period. Ask any of them if they would vote against their faith. I promise you they won’t.
I’m not attacking anyone. I’m the one being attacked. I’m also not singling out any group. I’m including all of them.