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 TheHill.com 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.

Spare change

By Steve Woodward

Remember “hope and change”? Seems today we are without much of the former and afflicted by too much of the latter. That’s what happens when China’s Wuhan lab swindles an election that results in Barack Obama’s third term.

Mostly we hear about only one kind of change: climate change. There is this growing faction worried about the weather (when they’re not perplexed about new Wuhan virus variants and monkeypox).

Upon reflection, I find change to be, at best, tedious, and at worst, dispiriting. One recent morning a Rivian electric “pickup truck” passed by me as I walked my dog. Definitely not a truck. A vehicle Pete Buttigieg would drive. This had me thinking about what has changed in my lifetime. From the respected and talented, to the absurd and abhorrent.

Autos

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

Any Jeep / Rivian R1T.

Cadillac Coupe de Ville / Tesla S Coupe.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost / Smart car

Celebrities

John Wayne / Alec Baldwin.

Sammy Davis Jr. / Will Smith.

Johnny Carson / Stephen Colbert.

Johnny Carson

Frank Sinatra / Justin Beiber.

Broadcasters

Vin Scully / Keith Olbermann.

David Brinkley / Chuck Todd.

Walter Cronkite / Norah O’Donnell.

Howard Cosell / Stephen A. Smith

Athletes

Johnny Unitas / Deshaun Watson.

Bill Russell / LeBron James.

Nancy Lieberman / Brittney Griner.

Pele (man) / Megan Rapinoe (?)

Along with …

Sam Walton (WalMart) / Jeff Bezos (Amazon).

Jack Walsh (GE) / Doug “Woke” McMillon (WalMart).

Marcus Welby / Anthony Fauci. (TV “doctors”)

John F. Kennedy / Joseph R. Biden.

Pride in country to pride in everything but.

Buddy, can you spare a time machine?

Fully furnished

By Steve Woodward

When Moore County Schools put an aging Aberdeen Primary School on the sales block, focus naturally was on who would bid for the seven-acre parcel and its structures.

Apparently, Moore County Schools administrators never contemplated what would become of the contents inside the school, everything from furniture, to educational supplies, to janitorial supplies.

A sale was closed last April between MCS and Sandhills homebuilder Ron Jackson (photo nearby). The Pilot reported his offer of $400,000 did not attract a competing bidder during a three-month process. 

Under terms of the deal, Jackson is prohibited from erecting another school. He says he plans to build homes after razing the old school building, but he is renovating the gymnasium. It will re-open in the fall as Freedom Hall, an intended community events facility.

Meanwhile, tables, chairs, rugs and supplies, paid for by Moore County taxpayers, were abandoned. Jackson says he has no idea as to the value of what was left behind. He is not selling any of it. He has been giving it away to churches, private schools and charitable organizations.

The tale thus has a happy ending. But we are left contemplating why Moore County Schools apparently has no process to sell or relocate furnishings when it sells a school property. We must conclude that this saga represents the classic definition of financial negligence on full display.

Asheville East

By Steve Woodward

Sometimes it is utterly impossible to comprehend how a quaint little town with boutiques and cozy eateries can be populated by so many raving lunatics. If you guessed this is a reference to Asheville, you would be wrong. Today we are examining the madness gripping Southern Pines.

Specifically, let us ponder the mental instability that afflicts the editorial board assembling periodically in the Pennsylvania Avenue offices of The Pilot. Have you noticed that the “news”paper’s logo features a compass depicting the nearby communities it views dismissively outside of not-very-Southern-Pines? If you read its editorial page, you might also notice that The Pilot has no moral compass.

This depravity was particularly magnified in the June 24 lead editorial in which the author (editor John Nagy, presumably) concludes that only zealous vigilance and opposition to the threat posed by traditional Judeo-Christian (American) values can stop creeping ideologues from messing up our state’s economic utopia.

“Best for Business, But for How Long?” bemoans the editorial’s headline. By way of background, it seems the once credible financial news network CNBC recently anointed North Carolina “America’s Top State for Business in 2022”.

CNBC goes on to observe that, while the statehouse is Republican ruled and the Governor’s mansion is occupied by a veto-happy Democrat, North Carolina leaders display a remarkable habit of dropping all pretense of dedication to party when it comes to funneling corporate dollars into the tax base.

CNBC does not seem to notice that more than a decade of conservative taxation and cautious spending might have something to do with driving North Carolina’s economic growth and attractiveness toward its preimenence as a business destination.

Governor Roy Cooper plays along with CNBC’s unity theme, but only to a point, noting that he has vetoed “a lot of bad legislation” (in fact, no NC governor has issued more vetoes). One has to wonder how the private sector might feel about employees residing in a state where the governor stopped a bill requiring sheriffs to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)? The bill would have detained felons and other bad guys until ICE rides to the rescue. Cooper vetoed it July 11.

But enough about where we are today, flush with business investment dollars, warns The Pilot. Beware the culture warriors among us, the enemy within that would place decency, morality and religious freedom ahead of “progress”, economic and social.

“Don’t let the creep of the culture war risk the reward of economic growth and prosperity,” opines The Pilot.

If Republicans re-gain (veto proof) supermajorities after the November elections, why they might dare to pass legislation to grant parents decision making power in public education. Why, what if these overzealous parents reject transgender grooming in classrooms and tick off a few woke CEOs in the Triangle?

And then there is the looming threat that Republicans would represent the will of their voters by drafting legislation to rein in abortion of innocents and defend life. Why that would be catastrophic. Right up there with prayer in schools and the Pledge of Allegiance

Only radical ideologues would issue such a frenzied warning. But they hide in plain sight in the pages of an agenda driven news organ, a shameless appendage of the unmoored Left. And they’ll be shocked by the dissenters in values-centered outposts such as Aberdeen, Carthage and Pinehurst.

But do take your chances. By all means, alienate parents in an effort to “own” our children inside government indoctrination centers. Absolutely allow transgenderism and baby killing to rage. Anything to keep the engines of commerce humming.

It’s worked out so well in California, Illinois and New York.

Insanity

By Steve Woodward

From whence do these insane teen-aged gunmen come? Is one of them living among us in Moore County?

Yes. Almost certainly one lurks in every community.

And yet Moore County Schools administrators, and some members of the school board, continue to view the threat in the abstract and with little sense of urgency. They fill the vacuum created by their lack of intellect with willful arrogance.

School superintendent Tim Locklair recently invested considerable time revising a regulation to address how the public is “allowed” to reject age inappropriate books in school libraries. But as to the matter of resources allocated to protecting schools, there are no regulation revisions ongoing. Instead, we must wait for money to be budgeted.

While we wait, and debate, the next gunmen is emboldening himself in the shadows of our society. How long can we assure one another that “Uvalde (Texas) will never happen here”.

Yet of the 13 Moore public schools that are not guarded by “resource officers” all are elementary schools, in which the youngest and most vulnerable children reside. The Uvalde killer targeted an elementary school. The 2012 Sandy Hook killer in Connecticut also ended defenseless grade school lives.

But during the July 11 Moore Board of Education meeting the discussion was only about proposed budgeting to deploy more campus police. A schools security official facing questions has few ready answers to basic questions. What is rapid deployment training? Why is there no provision to prepare campus police by providing trauma medical training? Why is there not an established document of understanding delineating which law enforcement officer is in charge amid an active shooter emergency at one of our schools?

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan’s observations should stop school administrators, law enforcement, board members, principals, teachers and parents in their tracks.

“You know what was obvious about the shooters in Uvalde and Highland Park? They were insane and dangerous,” she writes. “Anyone bothering to look could see, certainly family members or close friends. The killers physically presented themselves in the world as demons you’d meet in hell.

“On social media they posted sick and violent videos and pictures. They had made threats. The Highland Park shooter had threatened to kill his family; police had been to the house and removed his weapons. The Uvalde shooter made threats online and posted pictures of dead cats. They were loners, in their heads and obsessed with social media.”

Last year, then-school board chair Libby Carter fear mongered for months on end by imposing heightened security during board meetings due to what was described as a credible threat. It was later revealed by the state bureau of investigation that no such threat was on its radar.

We never will know what Carter, or the Moore Schools administration and its police force, knew back then. We won’t know in the future when another threat emerges.

What we do know today is that Moore County Schools is contemplating hiring 12 new officers while filling two currently vacant slots. During a July 11 presentation we learned the positions are offered in a shockingly inadequate salary range of $31,000 to $42,000 (not including benefits). We learned that training, weaponizing, equipping and buying vehicles will cost taxpayers $1.179 million initially, and close to $800,000 annually going forward.

Meanwhile, the force in place has not received active shooter training since 2017, was last exposed to threat/risk assessment training in 2018, and never has undergone trauma medical training.

Even more alarming, when board member Bob Levy asked about chain of command in the event that a school police officer responds to a 911 alert involving an armed individual on a local school campus, Moore Schools administrators appeared to tap dance as fast as their legs would permit to allay Levy’s concerns.

Fellow board member David Hensley ultimately received acknowledgement that there are no existing memorandums of understanding detailing how response to an active shooter will go down, or how other local law enforcement agencies would become involved in coordinating that response.

A slogan visible at Pinehurst Elementary School declares to all who enter that the school is “in the business of play”. For the sake of our community, something less cryptic needs to be demanded for all Moore County schools. It’s well past time to exit the business of law enforcement.