By Steve Woodward
Public education reform is on the move in Moore County, and long overdue. Who is the hysterical citizen standing in the breech, shouting, “Halt!”?
It’s none other than the editor of The Pilot, John Nagy, who seems to live with numerous rent-free occupants between his ears.
He’s been very upset ever since the Moore County Board of Education was reconstituted by the will of voters. Three new board members were installed last December, joining the status quo terminators elected in 2020, David Hensley, Philip Holmes and Robert Levy. Suddenly, a dependable 4-3 rubber stamp board became a 6-1, take-no-prisoners reform board, no longer beholden to a tyrannical Robert Grimesey, whose reign as Moore County Schools superintendent was notable for its unchecked spending and inattention to deteriorating campus discipline. He has faded into retirement, or, perhaps, exile.
Nagy’s May 14, 2023, op-ed contends that our teachers are under siege at the hands of “cynical and conspiratorial” culture warriors. Seems he has failed to notice that teachers increasingly are conduits of the political Left’s deliberate hijacking of public education, which has given us math and reading proficiencies in free fall, a student population ever more traumatized by gender dysphoria, and chronic student misconduct bordering on chaos.
These downward trends already were reality before March 2020 when China unleashed a bioweapon in the form of an infectious virus that quickly spread as Chinese nationals were permitted to travel into the U.S by air.
Bowing to a sudden suspension of individual liberty, our schools were shuttered and students were sent into a twilight zone called “remote learning” that sacrificed educational progress to protect them from a virus posing very little threat to their well being, or the health of their teachers. After months of school closures were lifted, kids were subjected to morning temperature checks, suffocating masks and useless social distancing. They were back in school but education remained at the mercy of pandemic hysteria. The former school board was in full compliance, and exploited the “scamdemic” by subjecting citizens attending its meetings to mask mandates and heightened scrutiny. The latter because they dared to question Draconian measures never before seen.
Then-board chair Libby Carter went so far as to gin up a never confirmed security threat used to subject school board meeting attendees to metal detectors and an oversized presence of campus security officers. In at least two cases, taxpayers were physically removed because they would not wear masks. In hindsight, attendees should have shunned masks entirely and dared security to manhandle all of us as we speed dialed our attorneys.
Against this surreal backdrop of the past three years, Nagy wants to know why anything needs to change. In fact, he accuses the current school board of engaging in “chaos theory”.
Nagy’s assumption is that teachers are being targeted as scapegoats for every shortcoming in public schools. He defends them as “first responders to the social, emotional and intellectual needs of our children away from home.” This benign notion would not have raised red flags in the past, but recent generations of teachers emerging from woke universities firmly believe their college degrees — many earned in the catch-all major known as “education” — obligate them to protect children from their parents, rather than acting in partnership with moms and dads. Grooming is not limited to sexual orientation.
When the current school board did what it had been elected to do, limited ranks of teachers and parents were not pleased. The Parents’ Bill of Rights, accessed Nagy, “unfairly targets transgender students in Moore County.” A bald-faced lie. Rather than recognize parental rights, Nagy recommends emphasizing the “legal obligations of teachers and counseling professionals.” Since when do teachers/counselors have an obligation or, worse, a right, to shield students’ mental health concerns from parents. This is precisely why transgenderism is trending forward, with no concern among some (not all) teachers that transitioning often is the first step toward serious mental health breakdowns, even suicide.
A resolution to require students to read a book and submit a written book report set off a wave of exploding heads. It was dismissed as a ploy in which board members are usurping the authority of and questioning the performance of teachers.
Nagy complains further that books are being removed by board members and their surrogates “unilaterally from classrooms”. This is a real humdinger. It’s not true. The books under scrutiny have been discovered lurking in school libraries. In one case, the content of a book was so graphically vile members of the former board cringed as passages were read aloud by a citizen during a board meeting. This scene has been repeated at school board meetings around the nation.
All of the wrist-wringing is intended to set the stage for Nagy’s most damning accusation aimed at the current school board, which is that its steadfastness is running teachers out of the profession and leaving classrooms understaffed.
The fact our cranky local columnist ignores is that a majority of teachers are not cultural warriors, do not view children as vessels to be manipulated, do not despise their pupil’s parents and love their profession.
The Levy-chaired school board has correctly identified that sweeping reform is past due in Moore County schools. Sadly, it will come too late for numerous teachers who have given their all but feel helpless trying to stem the tide of compromised educational standards, declining student proficiency in the basics of math and reading, and trying to survive in schools that for too long have been hijacked by undisciplined students, and have too few campus security personnel to control them.
This is reality not theory.
One thought on “Unmasked”
As a teacher at a Middle School here in Moore County I can attest to everything Mr. Woodward has written. As a retired Law Enforcement Officer I followed my passion for teaching and thought I could make a difference teaching in a Public School setting. This will be my second and last year teaching in the Public School system. The system is so broken that nothing but a fundamental and systematic rebuilding can fix it. The tip of the iceberg is the behavioral issues. It was easier dealing with hardened criminals than trying to reign in completely unruly Middle Schoolers. I was told to my face on several occasions to go F@%k myself with hardly any repercussions. Kids would come in “high as a kite” smelling like Cheech and Chong and would receive slaps on the wrist. Classes would be routinely interrupted by the same students day after day and punishments would be shrugged off and laughed at. Suspensions did little to nothing. It was a day off with no parental supervision. The parents of the offenders could not be counted on to lend support to the teachers or staff. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
But the most glaring problem was the lack of reading skills of far too many students. Almost 3/4 of the school are at least one grade behind and some five grades behind.
I continually pointed this out at every opportunity to administration but received excuse after excuse. All that matters is becoming a “c” school instead of a “d”. I was instructed on several occasions to document the failure rates of the different races of students which I found offensive. Why would it matter? Well the statistics showed that only about 25% of black students were passing and most were grade levels behind where they should be, especially in reading skills. Another failure of the system. However, this is nothing new. I decided to look up the statistics for Public School Education in North Carolina and found that the federal government keeps track! Since 1998 there has been no improvement in reading or math for middle schoolers with almost the same failure rates for minorities. Twenty Five years of failure!
I want to note that it is not the teachers who are failing the students. Most teachers and administrators are dedicated to the educational welfare of the students. But how can a teacher reach an 8th grader in Social Studies when he/she is five grade levels behind in reading? How can one expect them to read and understand the Declaration of Independence when they can hardly read or understand Dr. Seus? The answer given is to try different teaching strategies! Hold their hands, coddle them and capture their hearts. All this while they tell you to go F@%k yourself. No Mr. Nagy, your way has not worked and never will. The Democrats and their fellow travelers destroy everything they touch. It’s time to clean house and rid our great State of the cancer of the Democrats and then maybe we will get an administration that will be committed to helping our kids learn to read and write again.