BY MIKE FUHRMAN
Less than a year after being elected to the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education, Mike Kubiniec has certainly distinguished himself.
In my opinion — and I’ve only been paying close attention for about 20 years, Kubiniec is the worst I-SS board member in recent history.
Although Brian Sloan and Anita Kurn certainly did their best to claim that title with their insulting text messages about forcing Statesville High students to fight in a Thunderdome (and Sloan earned extra points for his recent diatribe about allowing students to smoke at school), the vice chair has secured a stranglehold on this high honor with his absurd war on books. Kubiniec’s intolerance of the LGBTQ+ community and his general disdain for district staff are also worth noting.
In his latest assault on books and the First Amendment, the vice chair pushed to have the district’s policies related to book challenges overhauled. Instead of focusing attention on the social, emotional and educational needs of the district’s 20,500 students as the school year gets underway, the administration has had to deal with this book-banning nonsense. It was encouraging to see board member Charles Kelly push back against Kubiniec’s request. Chairman Bill Howell and board member Doug Knight also offered some resistance to this obvious political grandstanding.
As Superintendent Jeff James has explained to the board on several occasions, the district has a robust policy and procedures in place that adhere to state and federal laws related to determining whether library books are appropriate.
Despite what Kubiniec and the mouthpieces for the Moms for Liberty would have you believe, I-SS parents are not up in arms about the books their children have access to in the libraries. In fact, the district has received a total of two book challenges from actual I-SS parents in the past five years, according to the superintendent. During the past year, a total of zero book challenges have been filed by parents. You read that right. Not one parent has filed a legitimate challenge in the past year. This entire controversy has been drummed up by the Moms for Liberty.
The district’s libraries are managed by well-educated, professional media specialists. They know how to do their jobs, and they have the good sense to consult with their principals and district administrators if they have questions about whether a particular book is appropriate for the students in their schools.
In instances where a parent has a concern about a book, that parent is free to prohibit their child from reading it. Every parent should be free to decide what is appropriate for their student. I-SS parents certainly don’t need Kubiniec’s help.
When a book is challenged by a parent, the district also has a process in place for a committee made up of school staff members and parents to review the book to determine if it is age appropriate for that particular school. That is a common sense approach.
That’s not good enough for Kubiniec. He wants people who share his myopic worldview to be the final arbiters of what students can read. Fortunately for today’s students, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the side of free speech and against would-be book banners like the vice chair.
Kubiniec might be scoring points with his friends and supporters in the Moms for Liberty, but he is not fooling anyone. I-SS does not have a book problem. It has a leadership problem.
Mike Fuhrman is the editor of Iredell Free News.