The Nevada Union High School District went through tumultuous years in 2021 and 2022, and 2023 is likely to see more upheaval. Under the leadership of the last District Superintendent, a few sympathetic Board Members, teachers, administrators and student activists, the District began a journey into Critical Race Theory (CRT) in 2020 and 2021. The Superintendent’s Task Force on Anti-racism and Inclusivity convened and generated a list of recommendations to advance race, gender, and sexual orientation initiatives for consideration by the Board of Trustees (BOT). These recommendations included “re- imagining” student discipline, hiring a “Dean of Equity”, studying micro-aggressions, and urging the District to openly adopt Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion-based principles in its website and course materials. It should be noted that the District’s existing policy (Policy 0410), and California Education Code (Section 220), both specifically prohibit harassment and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation/identity - the behaviors at the heart of the Task Force’s recommendations.

    When students provide testimony at Board meetings about extensive harassment on campus to encourage the adoption of these new initiatives – it becomes clear that either the incidents aren’t being reported to (or noticed by) the administration, or that appropriate discipline doesn’t follow once reported. Both are problematic and require action by the BOT. Instead, the approach is to add more granular policy to further define potential violations. It is messy to confront and discipline those who violate existing policy or fail to report it. It is easier (and feels better) to sprinkle the latest woke terminology into District policy, communication, and initiatives such as systemic racism, anti-racism, anti-bias, micro-aggressions, social emotional learning, and diversity-equity-inclusion.

    At the core of these terms and initiatives is CRT – substituting individual student identity with that of the student’s race, ethnicity, or more recently, sexual orientation or identity. The privileges, priorities and opportunities provided to the student are then distributed based not on individual performance (merit), but on the ranking of one’s position within the hierarchy of protected identities. It is a march down the well-trodden path established by America’s elite universities. What begins as desire to promote racial understanding and tolerance devolves into social justice mayhem. The final outcome is predictable and can be seen in our universities today – lowering of academic standards and performance, ideological conformity, suppression of opposing views, racial segregation, pseudo-virtue, and narcissism.

    All of this political enlightenment within the District comes as State testing at County High Schools indicates students are in the 48th percentile for English-Language Arts (ELA) comprehension and the 28th percentile for mathematics comprehension...and dropping (https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/). Half of the students are not meeting the standard for ELA, and 3 out of 4 are not meeting the standard for math. Adding to these performance problems is a long term and precipitous decline in student enrollment, and therefore funding (funding is a function of the average daily attendance at each school). According to a June 23, 2022 Nevada County Grand Jury Report entitled “The Lesson Never Learned”, County School District enrollment declined 27% between 2010 and 2020. And then COVID closures hit. County enrollment is anticipated to further decline (perhaps dramatically) as a result of parents relocating from California or home schooling their kids following the closures. What percentage will be attributable to ideological indoctrination?

    Protecting American Ideals (PAI), a group of local parents and community members who see the pervasive nature of this ideology, began to push back against the Task Force and its recommendations in 2021. When the petition circulated in support of the Superintendent’s Task Force’s creation failed to produce the “grass-roots” support it boasted of, the Board rightly stopped its advancement. Another win for sensible Board leadership occurred when Stephanie Leishman was unanimously appointed by the Board to fill a vacated Board seat in late 2022. Mrs. Leishman brought sound leadership and education experience to the Board.

    The November 2022 election reset the Board of Trustees in a way that will undoubtedly reverse the progress made by PAI. Mrs. Leishman’s short tenure was ended, and two other democrat-supported candidates secured the seats termed by Pat Seely and Jim Hinman. Jim Drew, who was not termed, resigned his seat during the December 14th Board meeting. While no explanation was provided, one can imagine that he did not wish to be alone in the push back against the activists.

    Local democrats had outstanding results in Nevada County in November of 2022. Endorsed Democrat candidates won all but one seat at the local level. In NJUHSD BOT Area 5, which leans republican in registration by 14%, Ken Johnson (D) beat Jay Adamson (R) by over 11% - a 25% swing. But in the current state of our elections, surprising results are no longer surprising. 85% of the ballots cast in Area 5 were absentee ballots. The results of the election were not available until a week after election day. Faith in elections, at least for those on the right, is approaching zero.

    Once the position vacated by Trustee Drew is filled by appointment (a vote of the remaining trustees) ideological unity at the BOT will be complete. In 2023, it should be expected that Policy 0410 will be back in front of the board for the addition of social justice terminology. The Superintendent’s Anti-racism and Inclusivity Task Force recommendations will likely be advanced (or will enter the District through other means). The tightening alignment between the Board, the Teachers Union that helped to elect it, and the noisiest of the student activists will squeeze the remaining students of informed parents from the District. The downward spiral of dis-enrollment is likely to continue.

Contributor: Jonathan Kors, January 2023


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