Friday, December 17, 2004
Dare I think it? Could it be a trend? I’ve just heard about not one but two big school bond issues being voted down. The reason is that the voters are sick and tired of school officials not giving them what they want -- especially the growing amounts of anti-Christian hostility, and the attempted suppression of Christmas in our schools.
One bond election failure was in four small Iowa towns northeast of Omaha. Opposition was mounted by a citizens’ group led by Go Big Ed’s good friend Paul Dorr of Ocheyedan, up by Iowa’s Great Lakes. He helped Go Big Ed and others defeat the whopper bond issue by the Omaha Public Schools a few years ago.
The other bond turn-down was in Oklahoma, and there’s a juicy new lawsuit in the Dallas area, too.
Christmas is in the air!
Are you listening, Blair and all the other Nebraska schools who garbled our laws about freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression and tried to keep a lid on the Christmas spirit this year? You’re next, if you don’t wake up and smell the eggnog.
First, Go Big Ed’s friend Dorr, a consultant who has helped 24 citizens’ groups opposing school bond issues over the past few years, almost all of them successfully, led a group that shot down a $5.6 million bond issue in Avoca, Hancock, Shelby and Tennant which would have built a new building consolidating all four districts into one.
School officials tried to use Dorr and his personal beliefs about education to demonize him and paint him as some kind of a fundamentalist wacko, but of course, it backfired at the polls. In an interview, Dorr said once the citizens’ group overcame school officials’ attempts to shield the financial truth from them and informed people how much the bond issue was really going to cost, they voted it down. Dorr is a homeschooling father and two of his children attend a conservative Christian college that accepts no government funding. Those are both positive things, but school officials still tried to smear him.
According to Dorr, whose op-ed on the matter was published this week in the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, school officials used all kinds of other dirty tricks to try to suppress the facts from the public. He revealed them -- telling voters how much more the bond issue would actually cost them with interest, and informing them about a ‘’back door’’ property tax in the ballot measure that could kick in 10 years from now. In reaction, he said, school leaders used tax dollars to hire an attorney to get dirt on him, and turned in a claim against him almost immediately declared baseless by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
Dorr said, ‘’It still amazes me how school districts across Iowa can use large amounts of taxpayer money to effectively run a local political campaign full of twists, mistruths and lies and in the case of AHST pay to send their interim superintendent to a conference to listen to (another school official) spew his lies about me in an effort to teach Iowa superintendents how to defeat my clients, but when beleaguered taxpayers dig deep into their own pockets to pay a few thousand dollars to an individual like me to help them expose the abuse going on in their own district, somehow they are the demons.’’
He added, ‘’Congratulations to all the right thinking parents, voters, and taxpayers in the AHST school district who turned down this unnecessary new tax and spend proposal.’’
Congratulations to you, too, Mr. Dorr, and semper fi. (If there’s a bond issue coming up in your district, Paul Dorr’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org -- hint, hint.)
A little farther from home, but just as exciting, according to the Associated Press, voters in Mustang, Okla., southwest of Oklahoma City, voted Tuesday to defeat nearly $11 million in bond issues in retaliation for a superintendent who decided to remove a Nativity scene from an elementary school Christmas program.
It was the first time in 10 years voters in that suburb voted down the schools’ request for more money.
The AP reported that the day before the election, dozens of parents at a school board meeting expressed outrage at Superintendent Karl Springer's decision to end the school's tradition of closing the Christmas play with a manger scene.
"You've got to tell them you're not going to sit by and let them take away your rights,'' said Tim Pope, a former Republican legislator and leader of the campaign against the bond issues.
Concerned over the issue of separation of church and state, Springer had sought advice from the school board attorney, who recommended that the Nativity scene be removed. The children still got to sing ‘’Silent Night,’’ but Springer took out the manger scene.
‘’Probably in my life I've never had to make a decision as difficult as this,’’ said Springer, who added that he thinks his choice hurt support for the bond measures.
‘’But I had two strong legal opinions that said something we had planned could be illegal. I wanted to make sure we protected our community from some kind of lawsuit.’’
(See Go Big Ed’s story last Friday listing a few of the many sources of information school officials should already know about, that shows that attorney and superintendent are in error.)
About 100 people protested outside the auditorium where the play was performed Thursday night. The protesters staged their own live Nativity scene. Some carried signs reading, ‘’No Christ. No Christmas. Know Christ. Know Christmas.''
Some parents were angry that Santa Claus, a Christmas tree and symbols of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were left in the production.
‘’If you're going to cut one symbol, then cut them all,'' said Shelly Marino, the parent of a third-grader at the elementary school. ‘’Santa Claus was in the play and a Christmas tree was displayed, but that's not a Christian symbol.’’
Last, but not least, also according to the AP, two days ago, four families filed a federal lawsuit accusing a school district north of Dallas of banning Christmas and religious expression from their children's classrooms.
The AP says the lawsuit claims the Plano, Texas, district barred students from distributing pens and pencils bearing Christian messages. A district attorney denied the claims and said school officials recently decided to allow the distribution of all materials - religious or otherwise -- at Friday's annual holiday parties.
I know, I know. These are difficult days. But if more people catch the spirit of freedom and fight back against these confused and misinformed school officials, we’ll all get to express our God-given right to talk about and celebrate what’s dear to us . . . including those same school officials. Only they won’t have as much of our DOUGH to play with.
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