The actions of a recently elected Arizona elementary school board member show the ability of just one person, backed by informed parents, to counter the “woke,” critical-race-theory type mentality seeking to infiltrate the nation’s schools.
After winning a seat on the five-member Litchfield Elementary School District board in November, Jeremy Hoenack sat in on a meeting in early December (before being sworn-in) when he first learned of the “Equity Statement” the board was preparing to adopt.
The town of Litchfield Park, where the school is located, is in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The Arizona Republic reported the idea of adopting an equity statement and an accompanying 75-page equity plan last summer came amidst the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd.
Something that stuck out to Hoenack in the equity statement, drafted by board member Kimberly Moran, was a quote from left-wing political activist and author Ibrim X. Kendi for the definition of “anti-racist.”
It reads: “We subscribe to author Ibrim X. Kendi’s definition: ‘One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.”’”
In other words, you’re either on board with Kendi’s agenda of fighting perceived systemic racism in America or you’re a racist.
Kendi made headlines last fall during the confirmation hearing of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett by likening her to a “white colonizer” for adopting two Haitian children.
Some White colonizers "adopted" Black children. They "civilized" these "savage" children in the "superior" ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity. https://t.co/XBE9rRnoqq
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) September 26, 2020
Hoenack was alarmed Kendi and his mindset would be something the board would want to associate with the Litchfield Elementary School District.
The former Hollywood filmmaker did some further research and came across another quote from Kendi’s 2019 book, “How to Be an Antiracist”
“The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
“So if you parse that ridiculous statement, it’s never going to end,” Hoenack told The Western Journal.
“And basically in this transformational equity work document (the plan being developed based on the equity statement), the school is set up for committees, employment, curriculum, whatever, it’s a never-ending cycle where they’re going to” continue trying to root out racism, he said.
Hoenack argued the whole woke mindset of the left when it comes to race is “lunacy.”
“We all know that. But the thing about it is it’s like a narcotic to them,” he said. “What happens is their life is all about virtue-signaling and feelings, you know. Results matter nothing to them.”
Hoenack made this point in a back and forth with Moran at a LESD board meeting on March 16 after she sought to defend her inclusion of the Kendi definition in the equity statement.
“I chose to propose this definition of anti-racist because it struck a chord with me personally and spoke to taking action instead of just sitting by and remaining complicit with the gap in discipline and achievement in our district. I’m here to get it right, not be right,” Moran said.
She added that she would be happy for the board to come up with its own definition of anti-racist, but as long as they were using Kendi’s, she wanted to give him credit for it.
Further, its inclusion did not mean the board was committing to following all of his teachings.
Hoenack countered that her personal feelings about equity or Kendi were not relevant to taxpaying parents of the district.
“They are kind of appalled our school is going in that direction instead of teaching our kids math, reading, true history, character, how to be good citizens, how to be productive to society, so they can have happy lives, instead of going around whining and complaining,” he said, which drew strong applause from many parents attending the meeting.
Several parents spoke out in opposition to the equity statement and the reported equity plan, which has not yet been made public, The Arizona Republican reported.
The Young America’s Foundation published a compilation video Monday of some of the parents’ feedback to the school board, which has already garnered 144,000 views and nearly 2,000 comments.
Parent Renee Card opposed the “radical” critical race theory Kendi espouses from being taught to her children.
“My kids are a minority group. I am Hispanic. Never once have they come home and said that they felt victimized or discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity,” she said. “Never once.”
“Do you want to know why?” Card continued. “Because my children are taught at home the value of people. That you treat people the way that their character and integrity defines them in your view.”
“That is not a place for the district or the board to impose a leftist, and yes, I’m going to make it political because that’s exactly what this document is, a leftist rhetoric that has no place in our schools,” she said.
Card also wanted to know how many complaints about discrimination the district received from parents of minority students that made board members think equity was a significant issue they needed to devote time to.
“You’re not going to tell me that your efforts are better focused on something like Kendi’s theory than on my child’s academic success,” she said.
Another parent, Amanda Miller, agreed.
“As a parent of two LESD students, I am disgusted by the documents that have been floating around,” she said.
“Why are we using something so controversial as Ibram X. Kendi’s statement about racism in our equity statement, a document that has the potential to be so unifying and it gets ruined because of an agenda?”
“What would happen if we used a quote from Candace Owens, Prager U, Ben Shapiro, Heather MacDonald, or the United States Sen. Tim Scott?” Miller asked. “The sky would fall and the board would never have that, but it’s OK to use Kendi.”
Brenda Kilhoffer, a mom of two white children at Litchfield Elementary and one black grandchild she anticipates will attend there, also tore into the board.
“Kendi teaches that you are either a victim or you are [an oppressor],” she said. “I’m sorry. I don’t want my grandchild being told he is a victim. Nor do I want my children being told that they can only be an oppressor.”
“Referencing Kendi was a bad idea. And the lack of transparency was a bad idea,” Kilhoffer contended.
“Bringing in this type of program into our district will have negative effects on all kids of every race and you will lose good teachers who know this is a wrong direction,” another parent said.
“We don’t want to become a woke district; We want to remain an A+ rated district. This is not the way.”
Miller told The Arizona Republic she is grateful Hoenack brought the equity statement and plan to parents’ attention through emails he sent to them.
“I appreciate that Jeremy (Hoenack) did this for the parents — that he put this out there and was upfront about what was going on — because I don’t know if it ever would’ve come out.”
Hoenack’s advice to parents nationwide is to not sit back, citing a quote attributed to 18th-century British politician Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“Make as much noise as you can,” Hoenack said.
“I realized that I was a minority of one, so I could just sit there and be outvoted and give my opinion and they’d all ignore me,” or he could go public.
“You got to be not afraid to call them out, and that shakes them up.”
Danielle Clymer, president of the Litchfield Elementary School District board, did not respond directly to The Western Journal’s inquiry about the use of the Kendi quote in the equity statement, however, she did indicate the board will seek out further feedback.
“The equity and inclusion work being considered is in progress and will have future opportunities for feedback from LESD staff, parents, and community members along the way,” Clymer said in an emailed statement.
“As a governing board member, I value a respectful dialogue of ideas and look forward to collaborating with other board members, district administration, and the community on future work done in this area,” she added.
The next board meeting is slated for April 13, and parents on both sides of the issue plan to attend and give comments, according to The Arizona Republic.
Hats off to Hoenack for bringing this issue to parents’ attention. May many follow his example nationwide.
The Western Journal reached out to Moran for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.