Douglas County School District’s superintendent was honored as part of the launch event for the new organization, Colorado Parent Advocacy Network, which opposes diversity, equity and inclusion …
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Douglas County School District’s superintendent was honored as part of the launch event for the new organization, Colorado Parent Advocacy Network, which opposes diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in schools. The group promotes parents’ rights and school choice.
During the Nov. 13 event at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, the group gave awards to a number of people for their “support in restoring parent voice in education,” including Douglas County Superintendent Erin Kane.
Lori Gimelshteyn, executive director of Colorado Parent Advocacy Network, highlighted Kane’s work to improve communication in the district.
“Since Erin’s appointment in March of 2022, she has worked relentlessly to foster positive relationships, open communication and collaboration with parents, educators and the board of directors,” Gimelshteyn said. “Her commitment to implement and support high academic standards for all students to succeed on their individual pathways is a model for all superintendents in the state and across the nation.”
Other award winners include Deborah and Jonathan Flora, who produced the film “Whose Children Are They?;” conservative radio host Kim Monson; Alexandra Campana, director of Center for 1776; Laureen Boll, a Colorado coordinator for the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism; and Pam Benigno with the Independence Institute.
Around 250 people attended the event, including Douglas County school board members Mike Peterson, Christy Williams and Becky Meyers.
After the event, Kane said she hoped the award would signal to parents that the school district does not promote critical race theory, “woke curriculum or indoctrinating kids.”
“Douglas County is an amazing public school district, we have awesome school choice, we’re focusing on academic excellence, we’re not being political,” Kane said. “As you’ve heard me say many times, we’re not promoting woke curriculum or indoctrinating kids. I’m excited to get this award because I think it will help us show our families in Douglas County that we are not doing those things and we do stand apart.”
She added that she supports all parents participating in their child’s education.
“I am dedicated to empowering parent voice across our district for every family regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, identity, etc,” she said.
The event also featured a panel with Deborah Flora, Erec Smith with the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, and Cain Young, founder of Task Force Freedom. The panelists lambasted critical race theory, teachers' unions and diversity, equity and inclusion programs, while encouraging parents to get involved.
Several questions the panel addressed focused on giving advice to parents who may be concerned about curriculum in their child’s classroom. In response to a question about why schools are assuming the role of parents, Flora blamed it on the spread of Marxism and the belief that children belong to the state.
“The good news is that’s not who we are, that’s not going to happen and we are not going to let them replace us,” she said. “We will step forward, with a smile on our face, and say those are not your children.”
Young went further in his response, saying schools are at war with parents and claiming that a lack of parent voice in education is akin to taxation without representation. Young then made a veiled reference to the Second Amendment in his answer.
“Pretty sure there was a big ‘ol giant war started about that. I didn’t say that out loud, FBI,” Young said. “I’m just saying we have solutions. Our founding fathers gave us solutions to fight these people.”
Young and Flora later railed against schools for supporting trans students and suggested schools were encouraging students to transition.
Throughout the hour-long conversation, panelists also promoted individualism in education, the traditional family unit and school choice, such as homeschooling and charters.
While Kane said Douglas County schools aren't political, she encouraged any parent with concerns to speak with teachers directly.
“One of my core values is to presume positive intent, so we always have to start there,” she said. “I think our parents and our teachers in Douglas County work together really well to make sure that our kids are getting the best education possible.”
Conversations are also at the heart of Kane’s plan to address the district’s equity policy, which involves engaging the community to learn what they want and don’t want from the policy. She said she plans to have more conversations with parents in Douglas County from all backgrounds as part of that process.
“The more you really listen to what differing sides are saying, I sometimes want to be like ‘you’re all saying the same thing,’” Kane said. “Nobody wants to lower expectations for any group of kids. Everyone wants us to take care of each and every child and help them reach their own individual potential. We want our kids to have the brightest futures possible.”
The district will begin hosting community conversations on the equity policy in January, Kane said.
Editor's Note: This story was corrected to reflect that Cain Young and Deborah Flora made the comments about schools and trans students during the panel. The story has also updated the number of people in attendance.
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