Once again the Pennridge School Board has defied and disappointed the community and our dedicated teachers and administrators.
On Monday night (Aug. 28), our board voted 5-4 to rush in an incomplete and controversial curriculum for our high school students. The most disturbing aspect of this new curriculum was that it was written by a novice political consultant who has never worked in the public school system and been in business less than a year.
Gone are the days that our school and administration would work cooperatively and present a well thought out and thorough plan for our students. This approved curriculum will be instituted even though 18th century American History was left out, along with a host of other shortcomings.
This new curriculum is a cut-and-paste version of the controversial Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum, produced by a small Christian college in the Midwest. The Hillsdale College’s 1776 Curriculum has garnered zero endorsements from any nonpartisan history, civics, and educational professionals. The American Historical Association, among other professional organizations, has explicitly condemned the 1776 Commission report and stated that “the authors call for a form of government indoctrination of American Students, and in the process elevate ignorance about the past to a civic virtue.”
It, like the 1619 Project, has no business being a part of our curriculum. Both are riddled with errors and misrepresentations of our past history. The 1776 curriculum is frequently called a whitewashing of American History where it teaches the many great things we have done as a country but glosses over the mistakes and mistreatment of individuals in years’ past. This is exactly what authoritarian nations do with their history. Covering up our shortcomings is no way to prepare our students for success.
Our board majority also continues to attack and bully our teachers and administrators in public, at board meetings and through burdensome policies. The results are scary. Teachers are leaving at an alarming rate. Eight of the 18 classroom teachers at Deibler Elementary left the district this year alone. Our overall resignation and early retirement rates are triple the rate of other years and much higher than any other district in our area. Employee morale is at an all time low. Our teachers are our most valuable resource and we are treating them as if they are a commodity that is easy to replace. They are not. Replacing an experienced teacher and bringing them up to speed takes a long time and costs a lot of money. Meanwhile, our children’s education will suffer.
Our board majority has also driven out Dr. Bolton, an excellent superintendent, and reduced our graduation requirements, which diminishes the rigor of our school. This will make it more difficult for children to get into the college of their choice as a key aspect of admissions is the rigor of the high school curriculum.
This kind of board behavior will affect more than just families with children in the district. Our reputation and school ranking has suffered over the past years and families are more reluctant to locate here than in the past. This will lower property values of homeowners in the district. Lower property values also translates to lower revenue for our schools which could lead to tax increases in the future.
We are in need of a change in the direction of our school board. We cannot keep ignoring our constituents, faculty and administration. If we do not change, we will continue to lose our valuable staff to other districts that show them respect and involve them in curriculum development. The only way to do this is through our school board elections on Nov. 7.
I am running for reelection and have joined with four other like-minded candidates. We all have children in the Pennridge school system. We are dedicated to focusing on our students first and keeping political agendas out of our classroom. The five of us have formed an alliance to bring common sense back to Pennridge. You can find more info at https://www.pennridgecommunityalliance.com/.
Please spread the word, get involved, donate to our cause but most importantly vote. Our success as a community depends on people getting involved.
Ron Wurz is a Pennridge School Board Director.