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Fiscal Responsibility is Needed in Wilson

Fiscal responsibility is a topic that seems to make Americans cringe these days.  Spending within our means, managing a budget, and saving for the future are values we all try to instill into our children.  For some reason, we don’t want to apply those same lessons to our school districts and government entities.

Managing a budget for a school district can be especially difficult since spending too much means raising taxes on homeowners and business which can ultimately drive them away.  Spend too little and your quality of education dips which can also drive people away.  Walking this financial tight rope can be difficult but ultimately, it is no different than running a business or any other organization.  Spend too much in one area, and you will need to sacrifice somewhere else.  Incur debt on the wrong projects and you can pay the price for years to come.

It was said at a recent school board meeting that Wilson is in the bottom third for millage rates in Berks County and we should be proud of that fact.  What wasn’t said is that Berks County has the second highest taxes of any County in the State and that we spend almost 20% more than the national average for public education.  Being in the bottom third in taxes in the second most taxed county in the state is akin to saying we are one of the best of the worst in the state.  We can do better.

Additionally, our campaign has approached the board and administration regarding the increase in Charter School enrollments over the past 2 years.  While the reasons for the increase in charter enrollment are varied, the cost to our district is very real.  When asked how the district is addressing the increased cost of Charter School enrollment, the answer we received was “we do not consider those students in our budget.”.  This is very disturbing since the PSBA recognizes that “it is virtually impossible for a single dollar of savings to be realized in school district budgets when students attend charter schools”*.  This means that driving parents to alternate education sources ultimately means a net financial drain on our district’s budget.

We have also been told that Wilson is currently suffering from student over-population problem that has grown to the point that we are using modular classrooms at certain schools.  This is an ongoing issue that has failed to be addressed for the past decade.  While this issue is a known long-term problem, our board is currently working on a 30+ million dollar renovation to our auditorium.  While I would also love to see a state-of-the-art auditorium at Wilson this would be a “want” compared to the “need” of providing adequate classroom resources to our children.

So what are they doing to resolve the classroom capacity issues at Wilson?  There seems to be only one seriously considered option on the table which is to build a new elementary school and make changes to classroom distributions throughout the district.  Since this option would require a significant increase in long-term hard costs in the form of facilities, support staff, teachers, and administrators; it means that borrowing the money is not an option and significant tax increases would be the only way forward.

What most people don’t realize is that our 2 newest elementary schools were built with expansion in mind.  Both Elementary School designs were specifically chosen because of their simple and modular architecture.  Adding wings to these buildings are not only possible but they were part of the original intent when these schools were built.  Additionally, by expanding existing facilities, the district avoids the need to hire all new support staff like janitors, cafeteria workers, clerical staff, etc…  Also, the number of buses and bus drivers can remain roughly the same as these routes are already established.

The big advantage to this plan is the reduction in long-term expenses makes this primarily a capital project.  These types of projects can be financed through traditional lending to significantly reduce the burden on taxpayers.  Finally, this prevents the district from further committing itself to ongoing facilities costs in a time when both virtual enrollment and charter enrollment seem to be becoming more popular.

While there is so much more that can be analyzed from a fiscal standpoint to help Wilson navigate big changes, I hope these examples show a glimpse into how our group of business owners and budgetary experts can bring value to the board and bridge the gap between the needs of our students and the financial burden on our community.

Craig Stonaha
School Board Write-In Candidate

* https://www.psba.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Charter_School_Funding-White-Paper_Update_2014.pdf

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From the Candidates ViewPoint: Pro Teachers but not pro politics in school.

This week’s blog comes from one of our candidates, Val Delp.

I would like to take a moment to address some comments made at this week’s board meeting in an attempt to spin our candidates’ concerns to suggest that we are anti-teacher. 

I thought a lot about a comment that was made about how sourcing and context matter, and yet it seems there was no research done on my background before making this assumption. Let me share that with you now so that you can understand my view on teachers. First, I’m a former teacher myself with a bachelor’s degree in education, two years of experience at the elementary school level, and 5 years in early childhood education. My father worked over 35 years as a school guidance counselor, and he sometimes shared the wonderful experiences he had working with students. I will never forget how his school district threw him a surprise retirement party, all the wonderful things everyone had to say about him, and how absolutely proud I was that he was my dad. I also have several relatives from my family, and my husband’s family, who are teachers. I highly respect and applaud teachers for taking on such an honorable role in the community. I know first hand how challenging, yet rewarding, being a teacher can be.

Now I’d like to shed some light on what we ARE against, and it’s not teachers. We brought to light specific and real examples of lesson plans at Wilson that have created conflict among the student body. It’s the controversial topics and sources being used to teach critical thinking skills that we do not agree with, and that some students are being ostracized because a select few teachers are telling students their opinions are wrong in front of their peers. It is the method we take issue with, not the teachers. We simply want some consideration for how controversial topics can be impactful on our students in a very negative way.

I’d also like to address the accusation that these examples were not first brought to the teacher by the concerned parents. In some cases, attempts were made to get a meeting with the teacher unsuccessfully, which resulted in going to the administration. As parents continued to feel the problem was not resolved from there, they then came to the school board.

Politics have created so much division among adults across the nation over the last few years, so why would we want our kids exposed to that at such a young age? We just want kids to be kids without all of the added anxiety that politics brings. There is already an enormous amount of pressure on them in social settings, sports, and doing well in school. We are worried about the impact of controversial topics on students’ emotional and social well being. And we want to believe that our teachers can leave their political beliefs at the door and focus on developing students’ skills utilizing productive, positive, and inspiring topics.

We hope to work closely with our teachers on ways to accomplish those things in the future. And again, we absolutely love and respect you for all that you do for our children. Thank you for being role models for our kids during these challenging times.

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Can you teach critical thinking skills without CRT or Race?

One of our supporters recently asked us this question, and short answer is yes!  And that is exactly how it should be first taught. 

Here’s why.

When you learn a new skill, you need to first learn the skill without any emotion, opinions, etc. getting in the way of learning. 

For example, take learning to drive.  You do not just jump in the car and head for the nearest freeway and learn along the way.  You take drivers education courses, you read books, you watch tutorials, you head to the nearest parking lot and practice as the person teaching you drives their foot through the imaginary break on their side.  You don’t just get in and drive and face the freeway.  You are put into a safe learning environment where you can succeed there, before facing tougher challenges like the freeway or the dreaded stopping on a hill. 

The same goes with any new skill you need to learn. 

Critical Thinking is a skill and challenging one at that.  We should not be learning this as we discuss heated, divisive, passionate topics.  We should first learn the skills in a safe, nonjudgmental scenario where we can learn how to think critically, the skills needed, what questions to ask, open vs. closed ended questions, the importance of listening to understand (vs to speak), and more. 

When teaching these skills, it is important that you first teach the skills and master them before diving into a divisive topic like race, immigration, etc.   You also need neutral coaches that are not going to push you into a viewpoint. 

Here’s why.

Imagine you were learning to drive and the drivers ed teacher decides that on your first day you are going to go out the freeway.  While you are heading out the teacher is teaching and coaching you all in the moment.  As you are making decisions you are told that is wrong, do it this way, think like this, ask this question, turn here, etc.

This approach would make this experience and learning this new skill a complete and total failure.  In fact doing it this way would have many question why you would teach someone to drive that way. .

Exactly the point. 

Why are we teaching kids to think critically with a topic that most adults can’t even handle calmly and expecting them to understand (and apply) the concepts of thinking critically while doing so.  Oh and make sure you stay neutral on the topic. 

It is not possible.  We are setting these kids up for failure. 

We need to first teach our kids to think critically in a safe and fair environment.  Allow them to learn the skills with scenarios, situations, etc. that have NO harm, are not divisive, and are not going to tear kids apart. 

For example, one we use in the corporate world is the deserted island scenario.  We first teach the skills of thinking critically.  The importance of asking questions, open-ended vs closed ended questions, what is the process for thinking critically, how do engage others, effective communication skills, etc.  Then we introduce the scenario that they are stranded on a deserted island with several items and for some unknown reason they can only keep 7 of these items.  They are to decide which items to keep and why.  They are to use their critical thinking skills to apply to this scenario and pick their 7 items.    

This is a ridiculous scenario.  I mean why would you be stranded and why would you only be allowed to keep so many items.

That is the point.

If we were to put you in a real scenario that you have lived through you would have all sorts of emotions, feelings about it, etc.  You would not be able to think critically about it.  You would bring those emotions into the scenario and would dismiss the new skills.  Because you know how you feel, and you need those feelings to be validated you would end up arguing your points, debating, and spending your time convincing others vs. looking at it critically. 

Everything you learned about thinking critically would go out the window. 

To avoid this and to ensure you apply these skills you are purposely put into a scenario that would most likely NEVER happen to you.  This allows you to focus on the skills vs the emotion around the scenario or topic.

Therefore, students should never first practice these skills on a hot topic.  Whether we realize it or not our emotions will take over and block our ability to use these skills. 

It is important that whenever we learn a new skill we do so in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. 

This CAN be done. 

So, the next time you are asked “how would you teach critical thinking without race” hopefully this equips you with some ideas.  As not only is it possible, but it is also the recommended way of learning all new skills. 

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If CRT isn’t in Wilson, why is everyone so upset?

Recently Equity and CRT have been hot topics at Wilson.  It has been a topic of discussion in school board meetings, committee meetings, administration meetings, and around the community. 

And the only thing our community can agree on is that we do NOT agree on this topic. 

When taking a step back and researching how did we get here, it is hard to understand the logic of why we are so focused on this, outside of feelings and a few stories.  While those are important factors, we all know that when it comes to making a shift or change, we need facts, data, and input. 

And Wilson has yet to provide ANY of that. 

At the Wilson Equity Forum, Dr. Faidley stated several times that equity at Wilson is NOT CRT.  Many throughout the community continue to argue and yell that Equity is not CRT. 

So why do some still feel it is?

Maybe it is because actions speak louder than words, and the Equity Task Force has not been acting in accordance with these words. 

So how did we get here?  Let’s take a look…

The Equity Task Force started as the Student Support Services Committee.  The original formation of this committee was to fill a gap of the “students in the middle”.  This committee was to help those students who didn’t do school well, but did not qualify for special needs.  They were to answer the question, what could be done to help them?  Pretty noble and a great goal in our books. 

According to Dr. Kennedy the committee met once and told stories, shared ideas, and soon after this meeting they decided to change the name to Equity.  She states that CRT was NEVER discussed. 

While we appreciate Dr. Kennedy’s explanation, the Chair of the Committee Ms. Kasper stated the opposite at the same board meeting.  She stated that she had no idea how much racism she experienced in high school until she graduated and read a book in college that opened her eyes.  She then referred to the work they have completed around race and the materials they were using as guides in this process.  This is where the disconnect started to open up many of our eyes.  If you look at the Equity Task Force Agendas, they are riddled with books, articles, and references to CRT based agendas.  The guidebook that Ms. Kasper is using is based on CRT Theories. The Gorski article, Avoiding Racial, written by an author that prides himself as being a CRT expert.  When you research these items referenced they all boast they have ties to CRT. 

On the Agendas (see below) you will see the recommended and required reading and discussion items that were being offered were all about race and written by authors who support CRT.  One such article from the October 7th, 2020 Meeting, “United Front on Education” promotes an “Our House, Our Rules”, where administration and teachers have to have each others backs, which is great and they should.  But it also states that the school is “their house” and its “their rules” and the parents and the community have no say.    In this meeting we also see that our school has joined the Berks County Equity Committee.  

Add to this the recent release of their Equity Promotional Video where they held student led focus groups talking about racism.  The reckless decision to have students lead these conversations is for another blog post, but know that ANY certification in Diversity, Inclusion, or Equity takes 100’s of hours to achieve.  And if it does not, you should question the validity of that certification. 

In addition to ALL of this we also consistently see Black Lives Matter appear in our school’s curriculum, book fairs, bulletin boards, and more.  Black Lives Matter openly admits to being an extreme political group that supports Critical Race Theory.  It is also important to note that it is against school code for the school to support or promote any political group.

BLM 9th Grade Assignment, Kindergarten Book Fair, and High School Bulletin Board

And this is just a few.  So while Dr. Kennedy tries to assure everyone that CRT is NOT in Equity, the actions of the committee and committee members support CRT and they refuse to disconnect from it. 

Not only has the Equity Task Force Committee members refused to disconnect from CRT, many on our school board also refuse to disconnect as well. 

The question is why?

We ALL know you can have equity without a focus on CRT.  We all agree that Equity is so much more than CRT.  We also know that the word Equity is dividing the community. 

So why did only one board member (Nigrini) offer up a resolution to denounce CRT?  Why did only one board member (Martin) ask that we have neutrality training of our teachers so we can have real, honest debates without knowing where the teacher stands and without influencing our students.  (This goal would also achieve teaching our students the ability to have a civilized discussion and critical thinking skills.)

Why isn’t everyone on our board promoting this? 

Why haven’t they decided to regroup, rethink, and re-strategize how to do this.  Starting with a REAL needs assessment of what does our community actually want and need?  What is the REAL struggle within our community. 

Our students say their needs are NOT CRT, it was right there in their promotional video, our teachers do not want CRT, MANY in our community do not want this, and our Administration has said it has no place in our schools. 

So why is it that some of our board members are pushing this so hard? 

Why not stop, think, and regroup?  Why not listen?  Why are we pushing this so hard?

Makes you wonder…..

And this is where many of us in the community are at. 

We are wondering, what is going on? 

Why isn’t our board stepping up, rolling up their sleeves, and coming up with real answers and solutions?

That question continues to go unanswered and THAT is why you see so many at our board meetings speaking out.  So many parents speaking out on social media, emails to the board, etc.

These parents are not the racists that the Pro-CRT Community members would have you believe.  They are parents like you and me, they are the volunteers, they are on the PTO/A’s, they are your kid’s coaches, they are parents that are so passionate about doing what is best for ALL students that they are willing to take time out of their VERY busy lives to try to make change.  They are fighting to stop these agendas that have NOTHING to do with our kids. 

If the school had done an unbiased needs assessment that included questions around all needs of the school, and sent it to everyone, this conversation would be different.  If they actually shared results of the survey, then worked on what is the meaning behind these answers, they would absolutely have the community’s support. 

But, they didn’t…and for some reason…they wont. 

And the big question is why?


BLOG REFERENCES AND RESOURCES:

It is VERY important to note that while we have SO much more information on these topics and more, we know that it is important to vet information.  We do not post or reference anything until we have evidence, conversations, etc.  If you want more information on our process, please reach out.  Thanks!

Resources:

Board Meeting Videos:

Wilson School Board Meeting 8/2/21
Dr. Kennedy Speaking about the formation of the Equity Committee: around 1:34:01

Wilson School Board Meeting 9/7/21
Board meeting where Nigrini and Martin offered up Solutions (starts around 1:08:03)

Equity Agenda’s referenced:

*We have also reached out to the School Board for answers on all questions posed in the blog post above.  We will let you know if we get a response. *

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Welcome Mehgan Epler!

The Responsible Parents for Wilson School Board PAC is excited to announce our THIRD Write In Candidate – Mehgan Epler!
Mehgan is a wife and mom of three amazing boys. She is exactly what the PAC is looking for in a candidate to help us make changes at Wilson. The PAC, Craig, and Val are so excited to have Mehgan join our team.

To all of you, our work is starting to pay off. THANK YOU!

Good people are volunteering to server, people are committing their time and money to support us, and we have never been so united. This is a fight we can win and that you all for making that happen!

Check out Mehgan’s campaign page to learn more about Mehgan, her commitments, and to help her along her journey!

And remember – its MeHgan – the “H” before he “g “- this is key for November 2nd!

Welcome Mehgan!

Mehgan Epler

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A huge welcome to the newest Wilson School Board Candidate – Val Delp!

We are so excited to announce that there is a new write-in candidate for Wilson School Board! Her name is Val Delp and she is fully committed to representing our district, protecting our children, and bringing sanity back to our board. I’m sure you will hear more about her platform in the coming days and weeks. I have been communicating with her for some time and as far as I am concerned, we are lucky to have her.

As another piece of good news, she has also been accepted by the “Responsible Parents for Wilson School Board” PAC. That means that she will have additional resources and support right from the start.

To all of you, our work is starting to pay off. Good people are volunteering to server, people are committing their time and money to support us, and we have never been so united. This is a fight we can win and that you all for making that happen!

Check out more on Val Delp and her positions here.

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Good candidates are the key to success.

Over the past week, our team has been engaged in meetings all over the county. Strategy meetings, fundraising meetings, planning meetings, etc…we are living the meeting dream!

While we covered tons of topics, there is one thing that has become abundantly clear this week: The Wilson Community is not aware that we are desperately short on candidates.

The four school board members running for re-election are:

  • Steph Kocher
  • Ed Case
  • Dr. Amy Kennedy
  • Sean McCrae

As of August 20th, there were three candidates running for school board to try and flip the above 4 seats that are up for re-election. On the 21st my campaign received a phone call from one of the candidates saying that they were no longer able to run. On the 22nd we were informed that the other candidate is having fundraising issues and is struggling to mount an effective campaign.

This means we have 2 viable candidates and some serious finance issues.

Wilson Needs Candidates.

My campaign is willing to assist candidates to get up to speed and we have setup a PAC to support all candidates. Now all we need are people.

If you know anyone who is willing to run, please do not hesitate to have them reach out to my campaign. This community needs leaders now more than ever. I know they are out there, we just need to find them and ask them to answer the call.

Thank you,

Craig Stonaha

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6th Grade Southern Middle School “Social Issues” unit

We wanted to follow up to our previous post about a book referenced in the 6th Grade Southern Middle School “Social Issues” unit.  Since then, we’ve become aware of more information and wanted to share that with all of you. 

During the TownHall on Monday August 9th it was mentioned that kids had a choice and that no one was “forced” to read this.  We have followed up with Dr. Stoudt (Assistant Superintendent of Elementary) and parents that were in this unit and here’s what we have learned:

  • Each Unit there is a different topic, this topic was Social Issues which is why Ghost Boys was in this section
  • There are a limited number of books, so yes each child gets to pick, but they take turns going first in picking.  So, if last unit you picked first you are not going to pick first in the next unit.  This seems fair, and we appreciated that the kids have a choice.  Where it can be a problem is when you are last to pick and there are no more options, which is what happened to the students whose parents initially brought this book to our attention.  The good news is all students get to pick first at one point. 
  • At the Townhall on Monday August  9th Dr. Stoudt made it very clear that if at any point any student or parent was not comfortable with the books being offered they will work with the teacher, student, and parent to accommodate them. 
  • Dr. Stoudt also said at the Townhall that if a booklist is not provided to parents initially then it is within our right to ask and be provided a list. 
  • Dr. Stoudt also provided a list of all the books included in this social unit.  We have listed the books below and a description. 

While we still have concerns about some of the topics covered in these books, we absolutely appreciate the clarity provided regarding how books are selected and the options that are provided to our kids. Hopefully, this additional information allows for a more informed approach for our parents.

6th Grade Social Issues Unit (Southern Middle School) Book List:

Blended

Ghost

Prisoner B

Harbor Me

Crenshaw

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish

Fast Break

Ghost Boys

Blended:

Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.

Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels completely stuck in the middle, split and divided between them more than ever. And she is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad involves more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?

It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again—until the worst thing happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

Ghost:

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?

Prisoner B-3087

10 concentration camps.
10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.
It’s something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner — his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.


Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will — and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

Harbor Me

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Crenshaw:

 Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary. This title has Common Core connections.

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish

Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you’re only in the eighth grade, you’re both a threat and a target.

After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mom decides it’s time for a change of environment. She takes Marcus and his younger brother to Puerto Rico to spend a week with relatives they don’t remember or have never met. But Marcus can’t focus knowing that his father–who walked out of their lives ten years ago–is somewhere on the island.

So begins Marcus’s incredible journey, a series of misadventures that take him all over Puerto Rico in search of his elusive namesake. Marcus doesn’t know if he’ll ever find his father, but what he ultimately discovers changes his life. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.

Fast break:

Forced to live on his own after his mom dies and her boyfriend abandons him, 12-year-old Jayson does whatever it takes to get by. He will do anything to avoid the foster care system. He manages to get away with his deception until the day he gets caught stealing a new pair of basketball sneakers. Game over. Within a day a social worker places him with a family from the other side of town, the Lawtons. New home, new school, new teammates.

Jayson, at first, is combatative, testing the Lawtons’ patience at every turn. He wants out, yet the Lawtons refuse to take the bait. But not everyone in Jayson’s new life is so ready to trust him. It’s on Jayson to believe that he deserves a better life than the one he once had. The ultimate prize if he can? A trip to play in the state finals at Cameron Indoor Stadium–home to the Duke Blue Devils and launching pad to his dream of playing bigtime college ball. Getting there will be a journey that reaches far beyond the basketball court.

Ghost Boys:

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.

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Craig Stonaha on the “We the People” Podcast

On the latest edition of the “We The People” podcast our campaign was fortunate to be featured. Hosts Danielle and Joe did an amazing job and we like to think our candidate did an OK job as well.

Please take some time to listen and give your feedback! We would love to here your thoughts on our message and the topics that were covered such as masking in schools, CRT based education, getting the vote out, and so much more.

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Wilson Teaches 6th Graders to Distrust the Police

We are continually told that CRT is only a graduate level course and that none of its concepts are in our school. We are then presented with outrage when we release information like the above.

The image above was sent to us by one of our contacts within the school district. This is the back cover of a book that was assigned as mandatory reading to the students of the Wilson Southern Middle School 6th grade class.

While our campaign will never restrict age appropriate reading, these types of books are extremely inflammatory and tell a story that is exceedingly rare in our society. Despite the rarity of these types of events, this book (and books like them) portray police violence against minority youths as commonplace and an “epidemic”.

When a parent brought this up as not something that should be assigned to a 6th grader, she was dismissed. When another suggested that this type of reading needs to be given context by assigning books that show the everyday heroism of our police or the extreme rarity of police violence against minorities they were openly laughed at.

CRT concepts are in our schools and this is not our only evidence. Police are not our enemies and they should never be portrayed as murders (especially of children).

Stand up for what is right. Email the board members about this information, attend board meetings to speak out, and support your local school board candidates. Together we can stop this spread of hate.