Libby’s war

By Steve Woodward

A newspaper in cosmopolitan Charlotte, the Observer, sent a woke snowflake to Moore County to find out why so many of our natives are restless about public education.

Libby Carter, the lame duck vice chair of the Moore County Board of Education, welcomed young Paige Masten’s inquiries, as did school board candidate Rollie Sampson. No other member of the board or candidates were quoted. Paige Masten is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, class of 2021, yet, somehow, she is a member of the Observer’s editorial board. Thus, we know that the author is a freshly minted Marxist. Her pronouns surely run the length of her arm.

Three board members elected in 2020 are summarily dismissed by the Marxist as right-wingers. She readily accepts Carter’s characterization as a self-proclaimed a middle-of-the-roader. The piece fails to reference the reforms championed by this 2020 trio – David Hensley, Philip Holmes and Bob Levy – and the many votes resulting in 7-0 and 6-1 outcomes.

The many changes these newcomers to the board have delivered are a result of the expanded public awareness they have ignited. Yet, it is this very awakening that sent the Observer’s Masten to Moore County. Whoever promoted the angle she pursued seems to have convinced her that parents and fellow taxpayers in Moore are on the brink of “pitchforks and torches” hysteria, and that defenders of the education status quo such as Carter will not be spared their wrath.

Any hysteria in our midst is not on the side of reformers, as anyone in the county well knows who has paid attention or attended school board meetings and pre-meeting rallies. Readers of the Observer have been told just the opposite. The headline warns of a “fiery” race for school board seats in November, as if these races should be polite affairs devoid of rancor. That ship sailed at least a decade ago when “wokeness” began to infect public education like a cancer, compromising student proficiencies in reading and math.

Administrators such as recently retired Moore Superintendent Robert Grimesey refocused priorities toward “social, emotional learning”, equity and gender fluidity. Grimesey is gone but his legacy burns passionately in the hearts of board members Carter, chair Pam Thompson, Stacey Caldwell and Ed Dennison, and new superintendent Tim Locklair. 

Candidates Sampson and Robin Calcutt have been part of educational decline in their various roles. Former teacher and principal Calcutt was Moore School’s director of academic planning and accountability under Grimesey even as grade-level reading and math scores were entering a freefall. Sampson was a military liaison to Moore schools who publicly affirmed that she would encourage school pronoun fluidity as a board member because to deny them would spark suicidal tendencies in students.

Candidates Sampson (L) and Calcutt exude optimism
and radiance during an August 2022 school board meeting.

They know they can’t run on checkered records and woke platforms, so the narrative has shifted to fear and loathing, and the Observer absorbed it with spongelike enthusiasm. 

Let us go back to 2021 when Carter and her allies created the fear narrative. They concocted a tale in which a crazed woman recorded a voice message on a central administrative office phone line. Thereafter, the public was informed of a credible threat to the safety of board members during periodic meetings. This led to months of citizens standing in lines to pass through a metal detector and gave Carter cover when she refused to move the board meetings to larger venues. The logic was rooted in this: a larger meeting space will merely attract more angry parents and enraged fellow citizens. 

Thus, by simply turning against those voicing opposition to school closures, useless virtual learning, ineffective masking, and the resulting learning gaps that only compounded already pathetic reading and math performances, Carter weaponized the virus and demonized those she was elected to serve. 

Now here we are just more than two months from the November election in which three board seats are contested. Carter is not seeking re-election, she told The Observer, because “negative attacks, threats on my family, threats on my home, (and) lies that have been told about me by some members of the far right are just impossible to live with.”

To date, there has been no evidence presented by Carter to support said threats. The State Bureau of Investigation never tracked down the person who recorded the allegedly threatening voicemail, and subsequently suspended further investigation.

Sampson says she, too, is afraid for personal safety as a candidate. Her many adversaries say they are “at war with us, and they’re not joking.”

Political battles often are cast as wars between ideological opposites. To the extent that there is a war in Moore County, it is an intellectual war that the Left and the woke know they can’t win. They can deny data and outcomes, but informed voters will see through these denials. They can claim that criticism is the same as the threat of a physical attack while doing nothing to try to diminish problems that stir the hearts of critics.

The Observer zeroed in on school board candidate Ken Benway, who vocalized what is at stake in November this way: “Whoever wins gets our kids.”

He is right, of course. If Sampson and Calcutt, a registered Republican who is known as “likeable”, win they will fall into lockstep with the woke education agenda entrenched in school districts nationwide. Along with incumbent Thompson, who is running against conservative Christian Shannon Davis, this trio would continue to veil “SEL” as elements of classical learning, support teaching that the founding of American was immoral and irredeemable, mask the root cause of declining grade-level reading and math scores, and demand that children be masked the next time Democrats need a public health crisis to win an election.

If this isn’t a line in the sand, what is? But by demanding transparency and reform, the Observer warns that Hensley, Holmes and Levy (and the three candidates they back, Benway, Pauline Bruno and Davis) will go right on unfairly maligning “good teachers” and running off “good leaders”. Worse, they will continue to remove “vulgar” books from libraries, support equal discipline of students despite their race, and demand teachers be hired on qualifications rather than skin color.

Against the backdrop of the Left’s naked agenda to pursue indoctrination of students, real world examples emerge proving that their opponents are not merely consumed by their rhetoric. In other words, Moore residents are not the stooges the Observer claims we are.

“The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty paper reports almost 2,000 students graduate yearly from Wisconsin’s teacher-training programs,” writes Daniel Buck, an eighth-grade teacher in Milwaukee who holds a master’s degree in education from the far-left University of Wisconsin (The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2022). “The Teachers College at Columbia University has more than 90,000 alumni. These institutions are producing a teaching workforce imbued with a radical ideology but lacking instructional skills (emphasis added). Their influence over thought, policy, instructional practice, and curricula is far-reaching.”

How can teachers continue to be coddled as underpaid and underappreciated when they are driving the academic bus over the cliff? The answer is: a continuing mass exodus from public schools. 

A new poll from Education Next, an education policy publication, found that enrollment in public schools has dropped by four percent over the last two years, reported on August 16, 2022. That equates to nearly two million students who stopped attending public schools between 2020 and 2021.

Data of this certitude apparently has not entered the orbit of editors and reporters at The Observer, which merely is the The Pilot but with slightly better writing and larger circulation. Snowflake Masten laid bare her motivation for visiting Moore and unraveling what she sees as our alarming dysfunction. In doing so she inadvertently arrived at the truth.

“Therein lies the problem: it is no longer about education, at least not anymore,” Masten writes. “It is about control. This isn’t merely a disagreement about funding or policy, but a fundamental dispute over what — and who — our society should look like.”

Call it a dispute or frame it as a war. It’s one we can’t lose. As the Left likes to say, let’s do it for the kids.

Steve Woodward is editor of Moore Liberty Digest, the indispensable, independent newsletter informing conservative Republicans and exposing the hypocrisy of Libby Carter, Frank Quis, John Strickland and Matt Garner.

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