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Opinion
Sarasota Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 1 month ago

The school board dilemma

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After Tom Edwards declared he is working for woke-ism, he triggered questions about Lauren Kurnov.
by: Matt Walsh CEO

The emotionally intense revolution engulfing much of the United States over what is being taught in public schools brings to the fore, at last, the inevitable failure of taxpayer-funded, state-run education.

It is now a war. And, unfortunately, this war is going to rage well beyond this election cycle.

These are the spoils: Who is to control the minds of our children?

Will it be the politicians in the statehouses or the unionized teacher-class, whose mostly liberal members, unbeknown to parents, have been infusing their personal ideologies into their prey?

Here in Florida and in Sarasota County, the two sides are clearly defined:

  • The Republican-backed Sarasota School Board candidates are siding with the Tallahassee politicians who passed laws that require schools to communicate more with parents and give parents more access to what is being taught and offered to their children. At the same time, they are siding with new laws that impose politically driven requirements on how educators are to teach civics and history.
  • On the other side, largely Democratic, are an unknown number of parents, leftist and liberal teachers and members of the LGBTQ and woke classes who abhor the influence of state mandates. They want the freedom to teach what they believe should be taught, the way they want to teach. At the same time, many of them embrace wokeness — infusing into students the cultural issues of gender, critical race theory, systemic racism and the historical sins of America.

Pick your poison: state politicians or the liberal educ-class.

Two weeks ago, we recommended two of the three Republican-backed school board candidates, incumbent Bridget Ziegler and Timothy Enos —  Ziegler because of her steadfast support for parents rights and a freedom agenda and Enos because he is a respected law enforcement veteran who knows what school systems should be doing to protect our children.

The third race is more complicated — between Robyn Marinelli (Republican) and Lauren Kurnov (Democrat).

We previously recommended Kurnov. And we did so on the basis she repeatedly insists she wants to eliminate politics from  the school board. What’s more, we supported Kurnov because, at 43, she represents a younger generation of civic-minded Sarasotans. We need more of her generation moving into leadership roles.

Nevertheless, the question still lingered. She declined to reveal to us her politico-philosophical beliefs on the cultural issues. We gave her the benefit of the doubt.

But as always in election season, unexpected events occur. Which brings us to Sarasota School Board member Tom Edwards.

Edwards aligns politically with the liberal left. That is fine. But when he declared at a forum last week that he is “woke” and “we’re working from the inside,” his comments triggered alarm.

He went on to say there are insider coalitions forming to protect teachers from state politicians’ rules. “People are coming to fix this,” he said.

If he and other woke Democratic school board members around the state are working to win control, where is candidate Kurnov on that?

We queried Kurnov once again. In light of Edwards’ comments, Sarasota County voters would benefit from knowing where she stands on specific cultural issues.

Kurnov’s responses are below. You, the voter, can reach your own conclusions on whether Kurnov would side with woke-ism or abide by her words against politics.

This is clear: Kurnov repeatedly is explicit about vowing to focus on what’s best for students. At the same time, her responses decline to say specifically whether she agrees or disagrees with the new state parental rights law.

She acknowledges the gender identity issue is likely to come before the board. She says the board should provide options to “parents and students that make sense for their families.”

Now weigh that against Kurnov’s opponent. Robyn Marinelli doesn’t mince. She supports the parental rights law.

For Sarasota voters, this is a dilemma: One candidate who declines to engage in the politics that has riled voters; the other who has stated explicitly her stand.

Two weeks ago, we gave Kurnov the benefit of the doubt. With Edwards and other woke Democrats “working on the inside,” can Kurnov, a Democrat, resist the pressure to conform and join?

She has given voters her word.

 

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Matt Walsh is the CEO of Observer Media Group. He founded the company in 1995 with Lisa Walsh and David and Ruth Beliles.

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