Tuesday, May 11, 2021

School Board Elections: Sex Education

This has been one of the more confusing areas for figuring out the concerns expressed by certain candidates. After a lot of reading, I have figured out that it is because they are lying.

This should not have been a surprise. On a regular basis, someone from church (possibly but not definitely a current candidate) would raise a fuss about the new curriculum teaching kindergarten children how to masturbate or something like that. 

It was always so clearly false that I didn't worry about it, assuming that the real issue was that the curriculum was not abstinence only, and that you were never told that masturbation would make you go blind.

For this topic, I am going to focus on Beaverton Schol District. I will mention that the Hillsboro School District candidates use a lot of the same phrasing, which I don't think is a coincidence. 

It would be very easy to be flippant, and I don't want to do that. In fact, this is a very important topic.

It is also pretty easy to be educated on, because all of the information is on-line, and in the offices, and available at Back-to-School night.


I am grateful to the voters who used this material to try and pin down one of the candidates on her claim that schools were teaching sixth graders about oral sex. First she equivocated that it was actually fifth grade, but even the phrase that she included -- which is not in the material -- was pretty innocuous, in that in referring to penetration it mentions orally and anally, as well as vaginally.

The objection was that once a child knows that oral is a thing, they may start thinking about it and wanting to know more.

I think it is naive to think that fifth and sixth graders won't have previously heard that oral sex is a thing. It is a wide world out there with lots of different people and music and video clips and so many ways that it can come up. 

This is what I want to be very clear: you want your children hearing about it from you or from teachers before they hear about it from friends.

I am going to divert a bit to one of the reasons behind how the curriculum is chosen:


“Erin’s Law” requires that all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program. That includes training the school personnel, who are mandatory reporters, but it also means giving students the tools to know if someone is doing something wrong to them, making sure they have the words to ask for help, and that there are people they can ask for help.

Yes, that means little children, who may need protection from their parents or grandparents. We don't like to think about it, but it happens. 

It may also mean teenagers who might be assured that some things are just playing around, and normal making out, because after all you can't get pregnant from it, so is it even really sex? Because being told that oral and anal don't count is a thing.

I am all for chastity, but that is not for the schools to teach. That is for parents and church leaders, and you will have to do it by being able to explain the benefits, not by relying on ignorance and fear.

The ignorance and fear leaves children at risk for abuse. 

I don't support anyone who supports that.

There are two other things that seem worth noting. 

The anti-Comprehensive Sexuality Education candidates keep mentioning a "robust" opt-out. There are pretty clear and accommodating options for opting out, including some materials developed with BYU. I am pretty sure any way of making it more "robust" would become an obstacle for most students. I think it's disingenuous, and I am still not surprised.

The other thing that seems pretty clear, especially with the support of Oregon Family Council and Free Oregon, is that part of the objection to CSE is that it will not specifically stigmatize LGBT students. Beaverton and Hillsboro candidates have shown great skill at avoiding direct questions, but I do not trust them with queer students, just as their opposition to Critical Race Theory means I don't trust them with students of color, and some of their statements about programs means that I don't trust them with poor students.

Fortunately, they are not the only ones running. 

For Beaverton School District, please vote for Susan Greenberg, Karen Pérez-Da Silva, and Sunita Garg. While I do not think it is fair to hold the endorsement of the others against LeeAnn Larsen, I voted for Ugonna Enyinnaya, but either of them should be fine. We are just lucky that whoever was recruiting for Beaverton missed Zone 5.

For Hillsboro School District, please vote for Erika Lopez, Mark Watson, Nancy Thomas, and Jaci Spross.

If you are in other districts, it can be pretty easy to know which candidates are which. Look for candidates against sex education and critical race theory, and for opening schools full time immediately, and actively vote against them.

And if you were just going to ignore school board elections, or know other people who were going to do so, please reconsider. This matters.

Ballots are due by May 18th.

Monday, May 10, 2021

School board elections: Opening schools

For the elections I have been focusing on Critical Race Theory, but that is not the only thing binding candidates across multiple districts. I want to spend this week focusing on the various parts of their platforms, giving each their due.

One consistent issue in Beaverton and Hillsboro, but also huge in Sherwood and West Linn-Wilsonville, is opening up schools, right away, five full days per week.

I can't track every school district, obviously, but I am doing some research and some trends stand out. 

That includes some candidates being actively recruited but dropping out later. This includes one in West Linn-Wilsonville and three in Hillsboro.

I only know about the three in Hillsboro because a friend was canvassed in February (a month after Scott Presler was here, could still be a coincidence) and there was a slate of four candidates for Hillsboro School District at that time.

The only person remaining from that slate is Monique Ward. The others apparently dropped out and were replaced by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

Regardless, one of the key points the canvassers were making in February -- before vaccine roll-out had increased, and when weather would have posed additional obstacles to ventilation -- was that if they could, they would have the schools open for five full days right then.

It seems more reasonable when they say it now, but I have some concerns.

First of all, I appreciate that they say they want to follow the science. I am concerned that they have a different concept of what that means than I do.

Beaverton School District candidate Saralynn Dougall has cited information from The Epoch Times, Spiked-Online, and Charlie Kirk. These are all far right, and known for not being particularly accurate. Of course, she has also referred to the anti-LGBT Oregon Family Council as a source for truth; it's not surprising. 

Also, because she has deleted everything I have posted on her page, rather than engaging with it, I have doubts about the likelihood of her listening to science that does not say what she wants to hear. I have these same doubts about the other candidates.

Let's look at some of the potential concerns about opening. 

They have mentioned activities like sports a lot. I get it; our society is built in such a way that after you graduate from high school your opportunities for playing sports, performing in plays, and going to formal dances goes way down. However...


It turns out that sports are a hard thing to do safely. If you think about it, it makes sense. You run into some of the exact same issues with theater and dances. Honestly, having students eat lunches together is probably really dangerous. 

Over the past two weeks, Washington County has reported 1237 total cases. More people are getting vaccinated, but there are still enough people out there who are capable of spreading -- and enough people not taking precautions seriously -- that there is still a lot of danger, especially as the virus mutates.

I understand concerns about the students' mental health, but that is assuming that the only possible negative impact on students is not being able to see their friends and do activities. Do you think students will have any feelings if they see their teachers getting sick and dying? Do you think they might feel some guilt if they find family members or friends getting sick after returning to school?

(For myself, the clear lack of concern for teacher safety has been very disturbing.)

There had previously been the belief that young people are less likely to catch the disease, but let's not forget that one of the early casualties last April was the 5 year old daughter of two first responders:


Pediatric COVID cases in the US passed the 1 million mark in November. It is wonderful that the vast majority of them have lived, but they would have been better off not getting sick.


Yes, Beaverton School District students are more likely to be facing other kinds of loss, but those losses are not necessarily helped by schools being open:


I want schools open safely too; I just question how much those words mean the same thing for us. 

I think there are too more links that are important.

Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online


Media Has Ignored The Anti-Vax Movement's White Supremacist Roots


I don't know that any of the candidates are specifically against regular vaccinations, but they certainly seem to run parallel to Coronavirus skeptics in some important ways, and there are definitely some parallels with white supremacy.

Do you want these people in any position of power over schools?

Friday, May 07, 2021

Review Retrospective: Asian and Asian-American Musicians

It is fitting that the last group of songs ended with Keala Settle. Born in Hawai'i, of Maori and British descent and now living in Seattle. Maori are Polynesian, so could fit into Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage, celebrated in May, and which I have been trying to honor. 

However, there are Pacific Islanders who question whether it makes sense to combine them. I get that. 

In many ways, there United States experience has been more similar to Native Americans under colonization and genocide rather than the experience of immigrants from China building the railroads, or Japanese Americans interned in camps during World War II, or refugees from South East Asia after the Vietnam War. 

There is still more that fits under that umbrella.

This post is titled "Asian and Asian-American" rather than "Asian-American and Pacific Islanders" because even though I had started looking for more Pacific Islander musicians to review, that was happening at a time where I was finding it harder to do reviews or blog in general, and took a break.

It turns out life is messy, too.

Also, in the reviews I did do before then, there are a lot of musicians that are not Asian-American, just Asian.  

Plus there was one who was of Asian descent but based in Sweden. Then, Woodie Alan (there' a name that didn't age well, but it was a combination of their names) was an white ex-pat joining a blues band in China and playing around there, as documented in Big In China by Alan Paul. 

There are a lot of ways things can turn out. I am not sure that I always met my goals, but I found a lot of music. I found things that I wouldn't have found otherwise, including songs that were love at first listen, and songs that resonated, and songs that still stick with me after years.

My point is that even messy attempts have value.

And also, I know it is important. 

That was strengthened when I watched an interview with Simon Tam. He talked about responding emotionally to footage of some Asian people walking in a cool gang in a film (it was O-Ren Ishii's crew from Kill Bill, but I can't find the interview now), and realizing he had never seen that. That's why he started a band.

One of the people I follow on Twitter, writer William Yu, has worked in practical ways to increase representation.


He also tweets it daily. "Representation matters today."

It does matter. In this day, we are not past needing it, but it is also something to remember daily.

Today and every day, representation matters. I believe it and I will honor that, regardless of the size of my sphere.

Songs for this week:

“Kiss Me” by Kyosuke Himuro -- I fell in love with this song instantly. Himuro has an excellent catalog, but this is the song I absolutely need.

“Ganyan Lang” by Lampano Alley -- Their other numbers tend to be faster and more upbeat, but this one has a poignancy that sticks with me.

“Yellow” by Katherine Ho -- The only version of this song that I like. She has a beautiful voice.

"Oh My My (What A Life)" by MILCK -- Weirdly, this is one of my favorites of hers, but I haven't used it for a song of the day by her yet, and she has had three. Maybe the others felt more important, but there is a lot of love and joy in this.

“Wankyoku” by Shing02 featuring Emi Meyer and Motoki Yamaguchi --Shing02 has a great body of work on his own, but I like how he brings in other musicians and finds new levels with them.

“Would I Break My Heart Enough For You” by Ogikubo Station -- This song is actually newer than my original review. It seems to show that they are getting more punk; I have no objections.

“From The Heart” by The Slants -- Finishing strong with this one. Again, I reacted to it musically and emotionally immediately, but there is meaning too. I am very grateful I got to see them live.

Related posts:




Thursday, May 06, 2021

Some people behind the campaigns

I admit that delving into these school board elections and trying to raise the alarm has me feeling a bit Cassandra-like; it is so easy to assume there wouldn't be any weird plotting behind something as wholesome as school boards. Aren't they more likely to disrupt the meeting than to sneak into power?



(Many fact-checking sites have assured us that in Arizona, the election of a new school board and overturning of the mask mandate wasn't real, so no harm done, right?)

Anyway, it still seems a little unusual for groups of candidates to run together, including funding. In the request for support that candidate Saralynn Dougall sent to the parents of her release-time Seminary students (an LDS scripture study class), she mentioned the other candidates and requested that financial contributions be directed to Jeanette Schade. I mention that, because it is Schade who has drawn scrutiny for a $1000 campaign from Free Oregon, founded by Ben Edtl, who just last month spoke at a pro-Trump rally with Proud Boy Tusitala Toese.

Edtl denies having any affiliation with the group of self-described "Western chauvinists", describing them as a biker club, but of course he still spoke at a pro-Trump rally in March, after a new president was successfully inaugurated and despite a failed insurrection. 

(The following article should really be more concise, but it covers the key points.)


Regardless, Edtl gave a good-sized chunk of change to a slate of candidates who are most concerned about Critical Race Theory, which -- despite their constant misrepresentation -- is geared at getting to the root of systemic racism and ensuring equality for all people, including students.

That doesn't seem like a coincidence. 

It is also important to note that the way these candidates are positioning themselves seems designed to appeal to those who are not whole-heartedly progressive but perhaps appalled and dismayed by Trump. 

These candidates seem to be more on the side of loving Trump, so if that is a problem for you, you should figure that out before you vote.

That was a point I made Monday when talking about Scott Presler, a man currently touring the country training conservatives on how to win local elections. 

I have not been able to confirm that he has himself done any training in Oregon this time around. His Facebook indicates that he was here in January, but I can only find news stories about his attempts to organize an anti-Muslim march last June.


(There is going to need to be a post about how the media has failed us, and why.) 

However, I wanted to leave you with an idea of the mindset of these very pro-Trump people who are taking such an interest in school board elections:


The tweet says...

If you want to oppose the democrats’ culture war:

-Make babies
-Buy property
-Grow a garden
-Start a business
-Run for local office
-Take over school boards
-Boycott “Made in China”
-Support alternative news/print/social media

My first thought at the time was that hippie Democrats love our gardens; why do you think we want to stop you from that? We'll help you! Let's trade plant samples!

Also, both homeschooling and taking over school boards seems like a mixed message. It's greedy, if nothing else.

But I think maybe the more important point is this idea that Democrats are waging a culture war. To think that, I would have to guess that you are existing in kind of an echo chamber, where you don't know the first true thing about Democrats. That apparently turns the world into a very scary place, and is unfortunate. 

However, if your whole identity depends on maintaining white supremacy and sexism, then yes, a lot of things Democrats say and our very existence could feel very threatening.

And if you don't really want that, and you know wanting that would be wrong, but you don't really like having to think about it either, Democrats could be pretty frustrating then too, but you have to know that the attempts to ignore uphold white supremacy and all other bigotries just as surely as do the other options.

This is a moral choice.

Think about the company you keep. 

ETA: The request to direct funds to Jeanette Schade was on Saralynn Dougall's Facebook page, not in the letter sent to parents. I apologize for the error.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

A more direct approach

I will continue blogging, and I am glad to start seeing more conversation about the conservative push to take over school boards.

However, I don't feel that I am being very effective. 

I mean, I can hope that people will see it, but part of what is coming up for me is that I keep being advised which of my friends like these candidates' pages and comments.

Certainly, the comments and questions I submit just keep being deleted.

So today I am going to focus on writing directly to my personal associates about their votes.

My friend count may go down, but I need to follow my conscience.

But yes, do expect more on the problems with the individual planks on the platform and the organization behind it.

Today is for the individual touch.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Critical Race Theory: What is it, and why do they hate it?

First of all, let me tell you that Critical Race Theory is a weird obsession for school board candidates.

The anti-Critical Race Theory candidates have been abbreviating it to CRT. I saw another candidate asked about CRT; she asked if they meant "culturally relevant teaching". That would be a much more normal conversation for schools. I am glad that it was the first thing that came to mind for her.

Just to get it out of the way, "culturally relevant teaching" -- which may also be called "culturally congruent", culturally responsive", "culturally compatible", or "culturally acceptable" teaching -- is about understanding the cultural background of all of the students so that they can be included in the lesson and taught effectively. Most of what I have seen on it was specifically relevant to teaching indigenous youth in Canada (that was in a book on linguistics).

Since Culturally Relevant Teaching is still about understanding differences and trying to help all students, those who are against Critical Race Theory would probably not be big fans of Culturally Relevant Teaching. Regardless, someone studying education would be far more likely to come across the latter. 

Critical Race Theory is more likely to come up in law school. It is a study of how the law intersects with issues of race. 

One area for criticism is mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice. Of course, in this case "liberal" refers to the traditional meaning of based on Enlightenment values of inalienable individual rights. Many traditional Enlightenment thinkers were quite racist -- not all all surprising for the time period -- but it leaves merely going by their values to be inadequate as a way of achieving equal representation before the law.

(If it were merely about criticizing liberals, this slate of candidates would be all about Critical Race Theory.)

Critical Race Theory has origins in the 70s, coming shortly after the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s.

With the legislation that was passed, including the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act, you could look at the law not being enough, or you could look at how many people immediately started fighting against the new laws and trying to reverse them (which may explain why they weren't enough). Regardless, it led to a new field of study, and part of that is examining the roots of our country's racism.

Some of the most prominent names at the start of Critical Race Theory are Derrick Bell, former dean of the University of Oregon Law School; Richard Delgado, expert on hate speech who coauthored many things with his wife, Jean Stefancic; Mari Matsuda, the first tenured Asian-American professor in the United States; and Patricia Williams and Charles Lawrence.

Another name that frequently comes up is Kimberlé Crenshaw, known for her work on intersectionality. One of her inspirations was the case DeGraffenreid v. General Motors, where there were jobs that white women could get, and jobs that Black men could get, and yet the discrimination against Black women was not recognized.

So, Critical Race Theory is very much a legal discipline, and not something that will be taught in your local school district. However, because it is also a way of looking deeper at the influence of racism, and how it works systemically, having people who care about it makes it harder to approve text books that consider chattel slavery just another form of immigration, and really not that bad.

Do we still have to pretend that slavery was not that bad? Do we have to accept that genocide against Native Americans was fine because of Manifest Destiny?

Because the one candidate keeps saying that Critical Race Theory gives white kids bad self-esteem, and in another district, one candidate is against Critical Race Theory because it goes against Dr. King's dream of judging people by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

Dr. King would know you were a clown, sir. He would probably say it more nicely. Maybe.

In this time of increased violence against Asian-Americans and continuing police brutality, especially against African Americans and increasingly caught on tape, I do not want anyone who is against understanding the dark currents in our society and working to fix them making any decisions about what goes on in schools. I don't even want them choosing the lunch menu.

When white people began to learn about their privilege, there frequently is discomfort. It only becomes a part of your self-image when you decide that you are fine with it.

None of us should be fine with that.

But there are people who love the racism, and there are people who are comfortable enough with it as long as they don't have to think about it. Those are the only people who have any reason to be against Critical Race Theory. 

They may misrepresent that, and they may get very offended when you say that, but whether they are not willing to do the work to understand their platform, or whether they are blithely choosing racism, keep them off of the school boards.

This is for everyone.

Monday, May 03, 2021

2021 School Board Elections: Quick Rundown

Not that long ago, we discovered that someone we knew through church was running for the local school board. Based on what we knew of her, that seemed odd, but it was much worse than odd.

There were other things that we learned in quick succession.

  • She was running in association with two other people. All of them shared a platform with a specific, harmful focus. I will get into that later.
  • There was a similar group running together with the same platform in the neighboring school district. That was kind of a weird coincidence.
  • There is a Trump booster traveling the country trying to help people get elected to local office.

So, not a coincidence. 

In the interest of complete accuracy, I do not know that this particular person has had contact with these particular candidates, but it turns out that there is at least one similar candidate in a North Portland district, and apparently some in Salem. There is organization going on.

There is a lot to unravel here, and some of it can be confusing. One of my big concerns is that I will put out all of this information, a reader will agree with me, but then get confused about which candidates. 

I am going to try and use as much clarity as possible, with specifics, and there are going to be multiple posts about this topic.

For today, I am going to work backward on the three bullet points, filling in blanks.

The Trump booster working on taking over school boards is named Scott Presler. He often uses the hash tag #ThePersistence, which I am sure was chosen for how it sounds compared to "resistance".

It seems to me that this movement is trying to fill a role under Biden's presidency that the Tea Party filled under Obama's presidency; not the party, but not opposite.

They will gladly attack other Republicans for not being "good" enough; Presler tweeted about plans to visit Wyoming to unseat Liz Cheney. This is based on her not conceding that the election was still stolen, making Biden lawfully the president. 

This is interesting, because that puts Presler himself firmly in Trump's camp, but there is a lot about his materials that seems to be an attempt to distance from Trumpism. 

Presler is gay, with long hair (I saw a reference to it being "Fabio-like", but it's not). The pictures he highlights have him with people of color, especially Black people. There are multiple pictures of the same girl.

That would seem like an attempt to be conciliatory with lifelong conservatives who felt like the rampant bigotry of the last few years was too much, but if they won't distance from Trump, they can't be that far from the bigotry.

Therefore, it is not too shocking that one of the key campaign points is a complete intolerance of Critical Race Theory, which they believe is unpatriotic and gives white kids bad self-esteem.

Now, CRT is a poorly understood concept -- especially among those who have leaned conservative -- so tomorrow's post is going to be about that. However, being against it was a key Trump issue, as was not making any real efforts to fight the Coronavirus. Another key plank in the platforms is that schools must be open all the time.

There is a lot to go over with the platform, and that will be other posts. Those are the two things to look for though. If you are wondering about a candidate, and if they are affiliated with this movement, ask how they feel about Critical Race Theory. Ask about if they support virtual school as we enter a 4th wave.

Many of the candidates are people of color. You might expect them to be against racism, especially in this time of increasing violence (largely Trump-inspired) against Asian-Americans and continuing violence by law enforcement against Black people. They are people you know, and probably think of as nice. 

They will make our schools worse, especially for students of color, and gay kids and trans kids.

It is good that there are some pretty easy guidelines, because I do not doubt that this is going on in hundreds of elections. I only know the candidates in two.

So for Hillsboro School District, these are the candidates that will be working hard to increase racism and decrease scientific response to disease. The have their own web site, and seem more organized than the Beaverton group. They apparently had more turnover coming up with their candidates, but they have one for each open position. 

They are not on my ballot, but I would not vote for a single one of them:


On to Beaverton School District. 

The first candidate I become aware of was Saraly Dougall: https://www.facebook.com/SaralynDougallbsdz4 

Although they do not have one unified page, posts reiterate that she is running with Jeanette Schade, https://www.facebook.com/JeanetteSchade4BeavertonSchools/ , and Fuhua Xu, https://www.facebook.com/Fuhua-Xu-4-Beaverton-School-Board-Zone-2-101950785342857

I am sure they can all be perfectly pleasant in personal conversations, but their policies are destructive, and also super self-righteous.

A lot of people don't pay much attention to local elections. A lot of people will see a name from church and assume that is a good choice, they have a shot. And also, a lot of people are comfortable with racism as long as certain parts are said quietly. 

My great aggravation and fear is that fellow Mormons are going to lead these racist candidates to a sweeping victory. If you need to teach your children white supremacy; stick to home schooling. (And if that's not why you home school, great, but don't miss the point here.)

(And if you think calling them "racist" is an insult or attack on their character, rather than a reflection of systemic, structural issues and how people relate to them, that is why we need Critical Race Theory!)

So please, voters in the Beaverton School District, vote for Susan Greenberg, Karen Pėrez-Da Silva, and Sunita Garg.


"Funny" story about the fourth seat: the racist group does not have a candidate for Zone 5, but Saralynn recently endorsed incumbent LeeAnn Larsen, because they think she will be more likely to work with them.

LeeAnn Larsen -- about whom I do not know a single bad thing, and I am sure is fine -- is a white woman with blonde hair. Her opponent, Ugonna Enyinnaya, is Black. I wonder what reasoning they used; probably just a coincidence.


The election deadline is May 18th. We received ballots Saturday and the voter's pamphlet a bit before that.

This is important, and I don't think it's getting a lot of publicity. Think about it, share, and please don't move our schools backward.

Related posts: