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DPI defends decision to target three Champaign County school board candidates

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* WCIA

The Democratic Party of Illinois has accused three Champaign School Board candidates of pursuing “extremist political agendas.” But, they all deny promoting radical platforms and want to know why they’re being singled out.

In a news release from last week, the party described its $300,000 plan to “prevent extremist conservatives from implementing regressive platforms on school and library boards throughout the state.” To do that, they’re recommending candidates they believe share their values, and steering voters away from those they think have an extremist agenda.

“I am flabbergasted, to say the least,” candidate Jeffrey Brownfield said. “There is no need and there is no room for politics when we’re talking about our children.”

* The local Republican Party has been pushing these three candidates for weeks and months, so the “politics” thing has already been breached…

The party has done things like call out a local school district for the apparent crime of supporting inclusive language and griped about a bill to regulate all-gender restrooms…

Also from the Champaign GOP’s website

HB 5188 – MANDATED COMPREHENSIVE SEX ED. Over 70% of school districts have made public their intent to not serve up comprehensive sex education curricula to minor children after the legislator passed a requirement that those schools that do teach comprehensive sex ed must align their standards with the pornographic National Sex Education Standards. So, what was the response in Springfield by the radical Democrats? MAKE IT MANDATORY. It is an affront to parents, local control, and common decency. As of Jan 7, Bill before Illinois Senate would make sex ed mandatory in public schools, but allow students to opt out

* Let’s move on. As noted above, the three candidates deny they want to ban books, or ban sex ed.

I asked DPI how they came to be involved in the race. Their executive director told me this…

As to how we came to this point with these three candidates in Champaign County, across this whole program, we’ve been very thoughtful about sourcing local feedback and very deferential to understanding of nuances from our stakeholders on the grounds. And from the start of this program, our stakeholders in Champaign County have made it clear that these three candidates are running with bad intentions and are very much in support of that same framework that some of these other extreme organizations are.

I asked if the stakeholders were teachers unions…

Yeah, our party stakeholders. So if across this program and across the state in any instance where we’ve identified a candidate that we had an inkling was running for and in support of this extreme right wing agenda, we worked hard to source information from our apparatus at the local level. So precinct captains, township committees, county chairs any of our our most engaged Democratic grasstops folks on the ground. Because you can’t know everything when you’re operating statewide, so we’ve just been very deferential to local information.

* And DPI also sent me this…

These candidates all emphasize teaching the “basics”- commonly used language by those who support limiting the scope of inclusive curriculum. It’s a dog whistle employed by known extremist candidates and organizations including Darren Bailey (“I believe we need to back up and start teaching reading, writing and math skills”). This is their playbook for implying that schools/teachers are pushing a social agenda by teaching LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum or certain discussions of historical racism that they label “CRT.”

Censorship of Books

When asked “Do you support censoring books or topics pertaining to racial justice, critical race theory, or LGBTQ issues?” each candidate gave caveats for removing certain books. While they state they wouldn’t support “banning books” they point to scenarios in which books should be evaluated for context or age appropriateness- the same arguments that extreme groups use to justify censoring books they disagree with.

    Mark Thies: Expresses concern about “age appropriateness” of books

    Mark Holm: Supports a committee to review books for “age appropriateness”

    Jeffrey Brownfield: Says that if people have concerns about books that should be elevated and evaluated and sometimes we should keep them and sometimes we shouldn’t

Thoughts?

       

36 Comments
  1. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:32 am:

    “Review” and “evaluation” are euphemisms for censorship, especially if a category of books/materials cannot be made available until a review “process” is in place and a book passes muster.


  2. - Big Dipper - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:32 am:

    Someone under 100 actually uses flabbergasted?


  3. - vern - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:35 am:

    The follow-up quotes from DPI are a little thin, but the Republican Party involvement gives the game away. If these candidates didn’t howl equally loudly about getting Republican support, it’s hard to take it seriously when they complain about party involvement.


  4. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:40 am:

    I really hope DPI’s campaign lit strategy does not backfire.

    One of the school mailers we got has a list of everyone they endorse AND the names of everyone they oppose. Very useful info if someone just wants to vote against DPI.

    Another mailer had a Trump hat on one of the “radical” types featured in their scary mob stock photo. If these mailers are just going to hard D households like mine, OK. But if this is going out to the general population, I would not be surprised if Trump won a majority of the votes in my school district in 2020. So in that case it seems risky


  5. - Lincoln Lad - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:44 am:

    Deny deny deny… sound like anyone we know? Maybe a current mayoral candidate? Or even more so, our former President?


  6. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:44 am:

    ===Very useful info if someone just wants to vote against DPI. ===

    They’re only going to hard Ds.


  7. - Demoralized - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:47 am:

    ==sometimes we should keep them and sometimes we shouldn’t==

    These people keep complaining about “parent’s rights” and yet they want to tell me, as a parent, what is acceptable and not acceptable for my child to read. I think I can make that decision on my own. If you don’t like something then don’t let our child read that. But please stay out of my business. I don’t particularly care what you think. Stop interfering in this parent’s right.


  8. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 10:56 am:

    “Would you like your child to get the best education or just a basic one?”

    “Oh, I’ll have the basic please. Give them that 1880s single room school house curriculum.”

    If the candidates aren’t in favor of banning books they’re sure trying real hard to pretend like they’re open to it.


  9. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:00 am:

    Any thoughts from other contributors to thus blog about the best way to phrase how utterly basic the “Freedom Caucus” is? From their education, to their ambitions, to their hate. They’re just basic. If it weren’t for land someone else gave them, we’d never have heard of this basic disappoints with their Basic Bigot personas.


  10. - Lincoln Lad - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:00 am:

    I wish these school board anarchists were only interfering. They are dictating what your child will be able to see and rolling back years of established curricula in fighting some made up issue. They are doing harm.


  11. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:02 am:

    If over 70% of the school districts are opting out of the new sex Ed curriculum for minor children passed by the legislature, perhaps it’s because the curriculum is extreme


  12. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:04 am:

    Book and teaching bans are “communistic,” getting “proper” learning only via government. It’s almost comical how right wingers say they despise communism but act the same.


  13. - Techie - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:15 am:

    If we want kids to be safe, we need to make sure they know their body parts (the real, formal names of said parts) and what is and isn’t okay for other kids and adults to touch. While I would hope most parents do this, surely some don’t, and some wait far longer than they should.

    Teaching young kids about this makes them SAFER, and preventing schools from teaching this makes them less safe.


  14. - Left of what - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:20 am:

    ==If over 70% of the school districts==
    Fun with statistics, 70% of districts that represent what % of students? Also, my guess is there is a geographic element to this that if you control for, there’s no difference. I.e., downstate redder areas are those 70% of districts.


  15. - Demoralized - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:25 am:

    ==perhaps it’s because the curriculum is extreme==

    I don’t think we should listen to someone like you about what is or isn’t extreme


  16. - H-W - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:26 am:

    This movement, in this historic moment, seems to represent a retrenchment of those who are bigoted toward others who may have different beliefs and experiences from themselves. That in itself will stifle economic growth and development in their own communities, and businesses pursue new labor markets and new customer markets.

    It also represents a willingness to prevent all children in their communities from becoming educated for jobs in a competitive, future labor force, and future citizens who are incapable of understanding why others see the world differently.

    This movement, in this historic moment, is pitiable, in that the children of these people will bear the harms of their recalcitrance.


  17. - jim - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:26 am:

    so because the GOP invites these candidates to speak and answer questions, that’s an endorsement? seems like a stretch to me.

    but what else is new in our hyper-partisan atmosphere?


  18. - Rudy’s teeth - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:27 am:

    All candidates for school board positions should be required to serve for one year as substitute teachers in the district. One semester at K- 5; one semester at 6-12. No sporadic days here and there but a full five day a week commitment.

    The individuals could request a sabbatical from their current work and would be paid a daily substitute rate.

    The hubris of some of the individuals who want to “take charge” when they have no experience in the daily responsibilities of working teachers is astounding.

    Being loud and officious does not qualify one to hold a seat on a school board.


  19. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:35 am:

    –so because the GOP invites these candidates to speak and answer questions, that’s an endorsement?–

    Correct.

    They didn’t run an open forum for all candidates. They only invited specific candidates they wanted to amplify the message of, and shut out the other candidates.

    Go gaslight somewhere else.


  20. - Friendly Bob Adams - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:50 am:

    In 30+ years in DuPage County this is the first school board election where I’ve received materials from the Democratic party. In this case they are opposing MAGA candidates.

    All these elections are nominally non-partisan, but they are not non-political.


  21. - Yeah Yeah - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 11:52 am:

    This seems strange because the DPI is doing something other than pushing house candidates. I think it’s a great use of party money to support candidates that believe in the party values. That’s what state parties are supposed to do.


  22. - The Truth - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 12:10 pm:

    ==If these mailers are just going to hard D households like mine, OK. But if this is going out to the general population, I would not be surprised if Trump won a majority of the votes in my school district in 2020. So in that case it seems risky==

    They’re only going out to Solid/Hard D voters around my neck of the McHenry County woods.


  23. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 12:24 pm:

    —-This seems strange because the DPI is doing something other than pushing house candidates.

    I know. I was told that was all that mattered for years.

    Seriously, the Republican Party and it’s associated PACs & other organizations have been doing this for decades (an ebb and flow certainly). It’s nice to see the Illinois Dems join the fight.


  24. - DuPage - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 12:42 pm:

    When I was in high school, some books were “restricted” because some parents thought they contained pornography. So, before students were allowed access to these books, the librarian had to send a permission slip for the parents to sign.


  25. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 12:43 pm:

    Hard D’s, hard R’s and with social media there is no more precision targeting of only certain voters . I’m in split house and like many I often take a photo of the D mailers, or texts or emails and send them on to my friends.


  26. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 1:16 pm:

    Has Bailey found the CRT yet? Democrats need to tell voters the truth about the culture war, that it’s totally manufactured red meat for the GOP base, to stimulate voter turnout.


  27. - John Lopez - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 1:29 pm:

    Pattern I’m seeing up here in McHenry County is DPI uses local input, particularly McHenry County Democrats’ recommendations, clean up candidates choices where local Dems recommend an over vote, and marked as extreme candidates who have a Republican Party voting history in primary elections.

    In Algonquin D300, the “official” Republican slate has only 3 candidates and the party recommends bullet-voting for their 3 candidates in spite of voters can choose up to 4 to vote for.

    A solid, hard-R candidate who’s a retired D300 teacher is also marked as “extreme” though she’s not part of the official Republican slate.

    Local Dems and DPI only back 3 candidates in D300.

    In Huntley D158, Dems left Catalina Lauf’s financially backed slate a pathway to victory, as DPI only backs two candidates and Lauf’s PAC, McHenry County Citizens for Lower Taxes backing a full, 4-candidate slate.


  28. - Louis G Atsaves - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 1:40 pm:

    Emphasizing reading, writing, and arithmetic are now dog whistles? So far I’m reading about ideology on both sides of this debate.


  29. - CapnCrunch - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 1:52 pm:

    “…These candidates all emphasize teaching the “basics”- commonly used language by those who support limiting the scope of inclusive curriculum. It’s a dog whistle employed by known extremist candidates…”

    Isn’t this the same tactic used by conspiracy theorists who use the absence of evidence of a conspiracy as proof of its existence? Here the absence of any incriminating words by the candidate is proof that the he or she is sending a sinister message to the intended audience.


  30. - Demoralized - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 2:23 pm:

    ==Emphasizing reading==

    As long as it’s only what they want you to read.


  31. - Demoralized - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 2:30 pm:

    ==on both sides==

    There’s only one side trying to ban books and support hatemongering against LGBTQ youth.


  32. - Prairie Progressive - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 2:37 pm:

    Democrats in Champaign appealed for state party money to elect their favorites in an allegedly nonpartisan election. Why? Because one of their precinct captains just came off the school board.

    The candidates DPI are targeting are not extreme. The extremism is on the side of the current superintendent and her lackeys who think that resurrecting 1970’s style busing will somehow make students study more.


  33. - H-W - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 3:13 pm:

    @ Prairie Progressive

    What do you mean when you say “1970s style busing?” Busing in the 1970′a (my childhood) was intended to establish racial balance across schools within a school district. I am not sure what you are getting at. What am I missing over there in Champaign-Urbana?


  34. - Pundent - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 3:36 pm:

    =Emphasizing reading, writing, and arithmetic are now dog whistles? So far I’m reading about ideology on both sides of this debate.=

    An incredibly disingenuous take. Nobody is suggesting that any of these areas shouldn’t be important or not taught. It is not an either or issue. This is an attempt to whitewash history that makes some people uncomfortable.


  35. - Leap Day William - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 3:42 pm:

    == What do you mean when you say “1970s style busing?” Busing in the 1970′a (my childhood) was intended to establish racial balance across schools within a school district. I am not sure what you are getting at. What am I missing over there in Champaign-Urbana? ==

    You’re not missing anything. There was a plan to reorganize the schools which would’ve had 90% of students moving to a different school, and it was eventually shot down after a lot of community pushback, although the board did approve another less ridiculous plan.

    == The candidates DPI are targeting are not extreme. ==

    Given that all three are known Republicans, some had Trump signs in their yards (which being a local, I can confirm for at least two of these candidates), and in their own words during candidate forums and in media interviews are saying things that very closely line up with what we’re hearing from Awake IL candidates elsewhere in the state… it’s not a huge leap to say they’re extreme when compared to the other people running.


  36. - Arsenal - Thursday, Mar 30, 23 @ 4:11 pm:

    ==If over 70% of the school districts are opting out of the new sex Ed curriculum for minor children passed by the legislature, perhaps it’s because the curriculum is extreme==

    This is a fun variation on A Guy’s hypoethesis about COVID restrictions, that if a bunch of school districts didn’t like them then that meant that the parents didn’t like them and those parents are voters so Pritzker was in trouble.

    But of course, Pritzker won re-election relatively easily because, as it turns out, school boards are not reliable tribunes of the people.


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