It is the age of impunity.
It is the age when white supremacists can defile a university campus with tiki-torched brays of “Jews will not replace us,” murder an opponent with a car and still get a president’s admiration.
It is the age when Black Lives Matter’s civil rights marchers are vilified as rioters, when their 14th Amendment ideals are debased as an inadmissible “point of view” and when their bigoted censors, two of our own school board members among them, pretend to be educators.
It is an age when children are caged by government order, when migrants are dehumanized with nazified imagery of disease and vermin in a nation that would still be looking for its worth without the immigrants and enslaved people that built it.
It is an age when a president’s brand depends on subverting democracy, when rioters and terrorists can sack the nation’s Capitol, attempt to lynch the vice president, shit on lawmakers’ floor and still be called patriots and “protesters” by apologists not only holding office, but winning elections, some of them in our own county.
It is an age when books prized and acclaimed for giving voice to anti-racism, to anti-police brutality, to Black or gay or transgender or whatever sexuality in all its exuberance, are pulled from library shelves by neo-Confederates posing on sandpiles of piety and “concern for the children of Flagler County.”
It is an age when brutality is character, when exclusion is morality, when fanaticism is faith, when inequality is merit, when racism is purity, when violence and ignorance are patriotism. When all else fails, there’s the impunity of equivalence. If it is all point of view, then it is all permissible, shameless discrimination included.
Which brings us to the Flagler County School Board’s impending revocation of equity.
The board doesn’t believe in equality anymore. No, really: it’s about to make a policy decision dropping the word “equity” from its goals. It’s opting for a euphemism instead: “student success.” For a district that brands itself “the nation’s premier learning organization,” it’s an odd way to teach students precision in language and fairness in conduct by eliminating a word reflecting both.
As astounding as this sounds, it’s not nearly as astounding as why. Two of the board’s members, Jill Woolbright and Janet McDonald, are running for re-election. Both are especially susceptible to the hysterics of tiny but noisy bands with adorably deceptive names like “moms for liberty” and other catchy coagulants glomming onto the word, which in their usage is indistinguishable from impunity. They’ve been turning school board meetings across the country into mob pits, all using the same Fox-scripted playbook and tweaked for local pushers: masks are evil, mandates are totalitarian, transgender people are freaks, lowering Old Kings Elementary’s supremely white student body by a couple of percent is the end of American civilization as we know it.
Those two board members have been appeasing these “fine people,” to quote Woolbright’s lord and savior of equivalency, and taking succor from them. They’re the same two board members who want any reference to Black Lives Matter removed from any instructional material, the same board members now going after Black, brown and LGBTQ books in school libraries. So when fanatics demand that the board freebase on their reality-altering opiates, Woolbright and McDonald say: “how high?”
The administration, out of fear, weariness or misplaced pragmatism, is giving in. Somehow board members Cheryl Massaro and Trevor Tucker, who are not easily played, gave in. Only Colleen Conklin, who called it “shameless,” didn’t. That’s the genesis of this latest surrender on equity. Massaro and Tucker should rethink.
For years the difference between equity and equality was non-existent. Equity reports have been an annual ritual in school boards across the country for decades. The latest of them was presented to the school board in July, with chapter headings like “Gender Equity in Athletics” and “Employment Equity” and all sorts of numbers that point to gaps between whites and minority success. The point of equity is to narrow those gaps.
Sometime during the Trump regression the word equity was perverted into one of those weaponized code words no one could define but easily understood as a branding of heresy. It’s not clear when the word mutated or whose perversion it was, though the imprint of the Heritage Foundation, the fringe-right shop that brought you Charles Murray’s racist Bell Curve and neo-eugenicist Jason Richwine, has been all over this. The grafting of equity onto critical race theory was no-brainer opportunism. Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin could care less about Beloved, but he sure as hell knew how to tap into the book-banning rage by manufacturing the bogus conflict between CRT and “parental rights.” As in Flagler with equity, one parent’s assault became an entire district’s capitulation: against the many, one.
The attacks have zero to do with the concepts. Most of these podium pedants at school board meetings wouldn’t know CRT from Palm Coast’s fabulous theater of the same name, nor realize that they are exhibit A in every CRT thesis’s raw data. They don’t care. Like “communism” in the 50s, like “anarchism” in the 60s, like “feminism” in the 70s, like “big government” in the 80s and “atheism” and “socialism” since the dawn of paranoia, these are just weaponized buzzwords tested in focus groups before getting released like viruses through the usual Pavlovian kennels—Fox, Newsmax, OAN, Desantis’s press office.
Accepting that the word means what its censors want it to mean–that equity looks at outcomes rather than opportunity, at groups rather than individuals–what, exactly, is the objection, especially when, contrary to its detractors, equity is not exclusive of opportunity. It is in addition to opportunity. It is academia’s earned income tax credit: it incentivizes the disadvantaged, the low-performing, the self-marginalized. Of course it seeks to lift them up. Shouldn’t it? But to suggest that it does so at the expense of the higher performing, or to bring down the better-performing, is patently false.
Education is not a zero-sum game. If Mohammed is a stronger student than Donald, and you end up helping Donald more than Mohammed–if you give Donald free wi-fi to go along with his school-issued laptop, a half-price lunch and extra tutoring after school–you’re not hurting Mohammed. You’re helping Donald perform closer to Mohammed’s level, and in so doing helping general outcomes, which means you’re helping your school’s outcomes, and therefore your community as a whole.
That’s equity. That’s what’s meant by outcomes–not the cynical, misleading propaganda about forcing everyone to perform at the same level, let alone bringing anyone below their capabilities. Those are knowingly false claims put forth with reckless disregard of the truth, not to prevent a dumbing down, which is non-existent, but to defeat the goals of equity. It is an assault on helping those who need help, who happen to be disproportionately students of color.
Following the logic of anti-equity, the only college financial aid should be merit based. There should be no subsidies for health care. Title IX, the civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination in sports, should be abolished along with Title I, which directs extra dollars toward reading programs for the lower-performing. Head Start, the WIC program (a nutrition subsidy for poorer women, infants and children) and the earned income tax credit should all be abolished.
This is racism in action, cynically veiled in euphemisms and fake impartiality. A nation enamored of its own exceptionalism is vengefully turning against helping the disadvantaged find their exceptionalism. The city upon a hill is now gated, and the Flagler County School Board just padlocked its own gate.
This is not a pragmatic concession with no effect on policy, as the administration portrays it. It’s a signal surrender reversing decades of irreproachable progress. Words matter. Equity matters. Trevor Tucker, Cheryl Massaro, your vote will decide this. Stand your ground, champion precision in language, policy and principle, and don’t appease this latest Trojan horse of bigotry put forth by a couple of book burners: Give them an inch, they’ll take the school district.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.
pierre every knee will bow and every tongue will confess jesus christ as lord
repent before it is too late with wicked demonic rhetoric sir you belong
in a communist country sir, evil is good and good is evil to you . isaiah 5-20
which you are blind sir. repent sir eternity is forever jeus died for sinners
like you.john3-16. also stop bringing up trump all the time it has nothing
to do with him its about your lost condition sir.heb 9-27
Weldon B. Ryan says
Seems evil is evil based on interpretation from what bull you’re stating! When is a lie not a lie? What makes a lie a white lie? Softening the reality and working for a true appreciation of all mankind should be the goal. Not your religeous nonsense! You don’t even know the origins of what you spew! Plus! Defending Trump uncovers your evil ass!
You my sir need to go back and study the Bible more carefully. What did Isiah, John, and other prophets do? They were generally railing against the government and the actions of people as a whole. Following this line of LOGIC, how is that different from a person writing an article pointing out inequity and mistreatment of others? What you are implying does not equate. Why is speaking out ok for a few anarchists, but not ok for those who oppose their ideations? You are expressing your opinion, and I am expressing mine. That is EQUITY. But if my opinion is suppressed, denied, and expunged from this public forum because you don’t agree with my viewpoint, that creates INEQUITY. Do you get it now??? Everyone is entitled to their opinion guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. The author of this article was expressing his Constitutional rights. Since when does the Bible say that it is ok to force your beliefs on others? I don’t remember reading a passage saying that is acceptable behavior. Go back and reread your Bible and you might want to brush up on your English and typing skills while you are at it.
Biblical nonsense, sir!
Linda Hagman says
Thank you! It’s time to say “enough” to these right-wing, ignorant extremists whose words and actions seek to divide and destroy our country. Our children deserve a better future.
Deborah Coffey says
Ditto. These ignoramuses are destroying America one step at a time. The entire purpose of education is to create critical thinkers…not people that BELIEVE every single thing they’re told…otherwise known as being conned! EQUITY for all! And, get these people off the school board.
Those two do not belong on the school board. But abortion is evil and capital punishment is not.
Mark K says
Those two women do not belong on the School Board. All they represent is shameless racism and homofobia.
Another One Lost says
“lowering Old Kings Elementary’s supremely white student body by a couple of percent”. Interesting choice of the word “supremely”. Pierre, you are way too smart to mistakenly use that word out of context. You are not suggesting that the “majority” (probably a more common word to use opposed to supremely) of the students at Old Kings Elementary are inherently white supremacists’. Or are you?
The dude says
Well… last year some of the Old Kings 4th and 5th grade boys WERE conducting informal polls on my daughter’s bus of “who would vote for trump?”, and then hassling all who didn’t raise their hands.
The apples don’t fall far from the trees… and if the hood fits, wear it.
Another One Lost says
Keep up the silly rhetoric and get back to me after the midterms. Accusing half of the country of being white supremacists’ (including several prominent black conservatives) is about as absurd as defunding the police. Accusing 4th graders of being future KKK members is beyond the pale. Like I said, keep it up. White supremacy, defund the police, CRT, Jim Crow etc. See you at the polls, Dude!
Trump has stated he is against white supremacy
Pierre Tristam says
Are you referring to the BIGGEST LIAR ever to hold high office? And you actually believe him??!!
Are you still believing that? since Biden is in office?? Because you are mistaken, Trump said things you didn’t want to hear, Biden says things you want to hear, lies. This pitting people against each other is exactly what the politicians want, we are busy arguing while they ravage the country.
He LOST, get over it!!!!!!
Believe me, I know he lost. Now with Biden we all lose.
Trump also said Putin denied any involvement with the election “strongly and powerfully” Trump the most disgraced president in our history, lacking in Dignity, Decency and Integrity. If you can’t see it your are truly willfully ignorant. See you at the Poles.
Timothy Patrick Welch says
With all due respect,
Equity would be when all students get free wifi, an issued laptop, and a 1/2 priced lunch. And because Mohammed learns a differently he is offered a tutor.
Its important to have diverse ideals and virtues at all levels of government including a school board.
Personally I due believe gifted students should attend public colleges and universities free of charge if they so choose.
Mary Ann says
Thank you Pierre for an intelligent, truthful article! This country is going backwards. I’m so glad my children are grown and my grandchildren do not live in Florida, especially with this school board! Some should not be in office of any capacity at all. The nastiness and hatred from people has intensified since our last administration. Thank you again for making me feel that I am not alone on these issues.
James M. Mejuto says
Congratulations to Pierre Tristam for such an accurate and incisive article.
I only hope readers came out with the need to vet our politicians and citizens campaigning
for public office.
Those two, McDonald & Woolbright should never have been elected to the School Board
Let’s hope the press, the media choose to investigate those candidates running for office,
no matter which local position in government. We must know how they feel about
issues affecting our citizens. We must push and shove the media to do their job!
Mike Cocchiola says
So, everyone show up at the school board meeting this coming Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 6:00 pm, in the government services building on Moody Blvd (Rt 100) west. Stand up for education. Speak out against the two radical revisionists that would destroy our public schools.
Another One Lost says
Good luck with that Mike. Like it or not, Flagler is still a predominantly conservative county. School boards around the country are becoming MORE conservative. Liberal (and moderate) school board members are being purged in record numbers. The problem is you just don’t have the votes. Most of the vocal libs in this county are right here on Flagler Live. Pierre has created a bit of an alternate universe where far left liberal democrats are the majority. You all get to vent and agree with each other, while slamming any and everything conservative. Problem is that it is not the real world. Take a peek outside of your little bubble and you will be immediately hit with TRUMP 2024 signs. Keep bitching about Trump, DeathSantis and anti-vaccine horse dewormer advocates. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. I think you guy’s are well on your way.
Ray W. says
Has Another One Lost ever considered the possibility that engaging in the act of voting so-called conservatives into office and getting insane results and then announcing to the world that the insane results constitute reality meets the definition of insanity?
I am far more conservative than most of the so-called conservatives who vote other so-called conservatives into office, and I may be one of the few conservatives who has actually taken the time and expended the effort to study the modern conservative movement, starting with the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, when Parliament deposed King James II. King James II attempted to place the right of royal power above the rights of Parliament’s legislative power. Yes, the founding of the modern conservative movement occurred when English legislators removed a person who abused the use of his executive power in an effort to dominate the legislature. Our founding fathers created a three co-equal branch form of government that does not place any one branch above any other branch. Does anyone, particularly Another One Lost, see any ironies between the founding of the conservative movement during the Glorious Revolution that deposed a king and the lack of will exhibited by the current so-called conservative Representatives and Senators who have pledged obedience to their new king? Please, Another One Lost, tell all FlaglerLive readers how a political party that is completely obedient to their new king is an example of conservative thinking. Please stop referring to Flagler County’s so-called conservatives as actual conservatives. You, like everyone else, including me, are entitled to wander through life fooling yourself. One of the most difficult things in life is to not fool oneself. Start considering the sanity of your own thoughts before questioning the sanity of other people’s thoughts. You are not a true conservative.
I am reminded of the old political joke. There is no such thing as a conservative Republican. Neither is there any such thing as a liberal Democrat. The only true conservative is a Democrat who has been mugged. The only true liberal is a Republican who has falsely been accused of a crime. The rest race to the center, plant their flag, announce to all who are listening: I got here first and my plan is best! Vote for me!
That old joke may reflect a greater truth than the best of all current definitions of political sanity in today’s political maelstrom.
Another One Lost says
So your long winded, boring, pompous, self aggrandizing response boils down to the fact that I misused the word “conservative”. Obviously your vastly superior intellect simply does not allow you to accept the fact that at least 99% of Flagler Live readers would not think of going back to the “Glorious Revolution in England in 1688” to define conservativism. You asserted the fact that you are “one of the few conservatives who has actually taken the time and expended the effort to study the modern conservative movement dating back to 1688”. That is quite a bold statement, I’ll give you that. Far fetched and patently incorrect, but bold.
Ray W. says
Finally, a valid critique, particularly by your descriptive use of the term, verbose. Thank you, Another One Lost. Welcome to the life of a zealous advocate. And, most importantly, you acknowledged the possibility that today’s version of so-called conservatives are not true conservatives. Next, you might actually consider the possibility that you are fully capable of wandering through life fooling yourself with some of your own far-fetched and patently incorrect observations. I have long accepted the idea that anyone, especially me, can be right and wrong at the same time. A little introspection from time to time might help you refine and improve your often inaccurate but partially correct perspectives, too. The “real world” on which you claim to base many of your observations might look a little different if you would simply take off your rose-colored glasses. Try starting with Pogo’s links, listed below.
As always: well said.
Do you see a solution for the shameless dishonesty and bad faith of “Another One Lost”?
This character (“Another One Lost”) is the embodiment of the gaslighting and all the other evidence-free bullshitting with a straight face that these liars engage in — continuously.
1. gaslighting: https://www.google.com/search?q=gaslighting
2. evidence: https://www.google.com/search?q=evidence
3. bullshitting: https://www.google.com/search?q=bullshitting
4. Republican lies: https://www.google.com/search?q=Republican+lies
Another One Lost says
Got a question for you Pogo. What is YOUR evidence that I am gaslighting, bullshitting or lying? It’s easy to throw out empty accusations with nothing to back it up. What am I lying/bullshitting about? The FACT that there are more republicans than Democrats in Flagler County? The FACT that liberal school boards members throughout the country are being voted out? Also love how you ask the brilliant Ray W to figure it all out for you. Don’t get him started. I guess we are now in for another one of Ray’s novellas. Can’t wait.
@Duh evidence — trumphole blowhards:
4. Republican lies: https://www.google.com/search?q=Republican+lies
Your choice to eschew Republican is conspicuous — and not surprising. The Republican party has been consumed by your ilk, i.e., atheist anarchist crackpots (the Libertarian party,) and the rest of the usual suspects: its foundational reactionary plutocrats, white collar criminals of every stripe, and gun nuts. It (the Republican party) is the first choice of racists, bigots and kooks, e.g., QAnon.
“Conservatives” like you, and trump holding a bible upside down in front of a church, and the Republican party, use Christians just like many of its (television preachers, etc.) uses them. Your tagline should be the old and cynical, “Better to rule in hell, than serve in heaven…” It fits you like a glove.
Add registered NPA and registered Democrats in Flagler, and Floriduh. Compare with Republicans.
@To Whom It May Concern
Helllooo…. Trump LOST, get over it!!!!!
Absolutely Ridiculous says
Loundon County Virginia parents had enough and petitioned to remove the detrimental and dangerous school board members. Flagler county parents its time to protect your children – these women are frightening! Are we seriously going to book banning!
So called “white supremacists” have the same rights as BLM. It’s what this country is all about.
Sheila Zinkerman says
School board members who voted to revoke equity from their goals may not grasp the indispensable concept of fair play. It is a path toward justice both on and off campus. Some of us learn how to play fair long before school age playgrounds. Some don’t, as witnessed by the actions of select school board members. Changing equity to “student success” negatively tips the scale toward injustice since access to resources for students who have different circumstances than others won’t be there. How can those students achieve success without their resources? Trevor Tucker and Cheryl Massaro: please vote to keep equity in your school board goals. With justice comes success.