Latest Posts

The corrupt intellectual foundation of Critical Race Theory

By Monica Chen 

In the summer of 1989, the leaders of Critical Race Theory held their fledgling movement’s first conference in Madison, Wis. 

For the first time, it was made official the academics who were devoted to the CRT cause beyond the main founder, Derrick Bell. Bell was the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School who had written the definitive CRT treatise, “Race, Racism and American Law,” published in 1970. He died in 2011.

The event has been painted ever since as the time when minority and women professors found strength by coming together. It was about “support and survival within the white male-dominated legal academy,” an admirer would write as late as 2012. 

There were 20 professors in attendance, including Bell, Richard Delgado, Kimberle Crenshaw, Mari Matsuda, Patricia Williams, and Angela Harris, all of whom have been and are still teaching CRT in higher education. 

But the CRT founders’ views on race show they are the opposite of being anti-racist: 

Matsuda, for example, does not support removing quotas for Asian-American students at Harvard University. Crenshaw has jumped from topic to topic without following up for decades, but no one seems allowed to question her work. Bell once said, quoting an old black woman, “I lives to harass white folks.” But white people were the ones who opened doors to him all his life.  

The truth is CRT is not about studying race or addressing problems in race relations at all. It is only about ensuring power for its proponents. One of the toxic characteristics of CRT is that it blocks genuine racial progress while it happens, and redirects that energy back to the founders. 

What is Critical Race Theory? Here is how CRT founders and proponents, the self-described “race-crits,” define it: 

“The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars engaged in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, setting, group and self-interest, and emotions and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”

– “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

That sounds vague and overly broad but the definition is accurate. The founders mean every word of what they say. 

To put that definition in real world context, to hear what the founders really mean, there are three characteristics that I think need to be recognized, in fact are long overdue to be recognized, when it comes to CRT. They are: 

1. CRT is about erasing and replacing the Civil Rights Movement. 

2. Critical Race Theory actually hates race. 

3. CRT is Fascist. 

The founders of CRT are the biggest obstacle to true progress on racial harmony and justice in this country and have been for decades. The nationwide parents’ movement against CRT is just one part of what’s needed. Its place in universities has to end. It needs to be banned from workplaces. And its characteristics need to be identified and studied as a form of Fascism, so that it can be stopped in the future before it affects this country ever again.  

The law book, “Race, Racism, and American Law” by Derrick Bell in 1970 laid the foundation for CRT.
“Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic took Bell’s law book to more practical implementation. First published in 2001, it has been reprinted twice, in 2012 and 2017.

1. Critical Race Theory is about erasing and replacing the Civil Rights Movement. 

Despite the media’s efforts at painting the CRT founders as being on the side of or continuing the Civil Rights Movement, it’s obvious from Bell, Delgado and Stefancic’s writings that they are the exact opposite. Their work is about injecting cynicism and isolationism into people, keeping people separate, and giving the tools to racists to paint themselves as anti-racist, of course, by supporting CRT.

Take what Bell wrote about Brown v. Board of Education in “Race, Racism, and American Law,” as quoted in the National Black Law Review:   

“(1) The difficulty in justifying official segregation and its implications of racial superiority after defeating, in World War II, forces that espoused super-race ideologies and resorted to racial genocide in their name; (2) the perceived need to compete with Communist powers for the friendship of emerging third world nations without the handicap of explaining official apartheid policies at home; (3) the refusal of more and more blacks, particularly those who had fought in the war, to return home to life under segregation; (4) the unacceptable restraints on full industrialization of the South imposed by rigid segregation laws; and (5) the perception by those in policy making positions that they could no longer afford to honor compromises of the past, in which poorer whites won segregation laws as an alternative to demands for social reform legislation and greater political power.”

In other words, there was no moral source for the Brown decision. There was no moral awakening that was dawning on American society at that point – probably as a result of the post-WWII prosperity. It came about solely for opportunism and expediency. A very cynical take that degrades a historic moment.

Anyone who hates what Brown accomplished can say that a black law professor said it wasn’t intended to be good to black people at all, thereby preserving their privilege and racism by passive-aggressively sneering at the landmark decision, with full support from Bell.

The author of the article also notes that Bell urged black people to continue seeking desegregation because black schools were behind academically. So Bell admitted that was the reality in 1970 in his book, but still would not actually support what the Civil Rights Movement accomplished. 

Bell also degraded the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, writing that it came about so the Union Army could recruit black people:

Actually, as a legal matter the proclamation freed no slaves, its terms having been carefully limited to those areas still under the control of the Confederacy, and us beyond the reach of federal law. Slaveholding territories which had sided with the Union were specifically excluded…. On the political front, the emancipation did open the way for the enlistment of blacks, and by war’s end, there were more than 200,000 blacks serving the Union Army.

The “Critical Race Theory” book by Delgado and Stefancic amazingly takes Bell’s opinion on the Brown decision a step further. The authors suggest that lawyers who want to “reform” the law not listen to what their clients want but instead litigate for specific ideological results. From the book: 

“Derrick Bell has pointed out a third structure that impedes reform, this time in law. To litigate a law-reform case, the lawyer needs a flesh-and-blood client. One might wish to establish the right of poor consumers to rescind a sales contract or to challenge the legal fiction that a school district is desegregated if the authorities have arranged that the makeup of certain schools is half black and half Chicano (as some of them did in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education). 

Suppose, however, that the client and his or her community do not want the very same remedy that the lawyer does. The lawyer, who may represent a civil rights or public interest organization, may want a sweeping decree that names a new evil and declares it contrary to constitutional principles. He or she may be willing to gamble and risk all. The client, however, may want something different—better schools or more money for the ones in his or her neighborhood. … These conflicts, which are ubiquitous in law-reform situations, haunt the lawyer pursuing social change and seem inherent in our system of legal remedies. Which master should the lawyer serve?”

If Brown v. Board of Education happened now, the lawyer adherents of Critical Race Theory would insist that it fit their ideological framework instead of working for the client, whatever their needs might be at the time. The “flesh-and-blood client” is considered to be just a tool for CRT’s agenda. This is the opposite of how the law can be a force for good.

2. CRT actually hates race.

The book, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, was published in 2001. From its first pages, it’s clear the book is an attack on basic forms of relating and working together between people, of all backgrounds. 

Who was overthinking basic interactions this much in 2001, or ever? 

The answer is no one. How much envy and hatred would a reader of this book have to have, to get angry and want to browbeat and control people in these small, instinctive interactions? 

So first, in 2001, this book would have been poison to a normal, good person who was sincerely wondering about how to have better interactions with people of different races. This book was exactly for hateful people who want to know how to control good people.

Second, the world that CRT wants to build is a complete nightmare. 

It’s not about race. This needs to be understood about CRT: Race is just the tool CRT uses. CRT actually hates race. (“Race-crits,” get it?) 

It hates people who are secure in their race, and confident enough to go to a car dealership and negotiate, trusting their own mind and their own instincts about what is or is not a fair price for a car. CRT hates people being able to make their own calls, having their own instincts, and having relationships of their own with people of different races that fall outside of CRT’s ideology.

CRT hates people living and working freely from the core of who they are, intention leading to action in a straight line, merit being earned through work in a fair society instead of bowing to power. Race is just the one aspect of our identities that CRT chooses to focus on.

If CRT did not focus on race in its foundational writings, it could have easily focused on sexuality — which is where it has expanded into in recent years. It’s not about race. CRT is inhumane in every way. 

In every way, CRT turns good intentions and a capacity to relate back on the people who have an instinct for them the most. Starting with the book by Delgado and Stefancic, it wants to build an oppressive world in which good people cannot live freely. That is not an exaggeration. Imagine if you went through a week with everyone in the scenarios in that introduction subscribing to CRT, with every interaction managed, confused, made opaque, and changed on a whim according to the CRT founders. It would be a new “1984.” The only people who would be treated well in a CRT world are the ones who subscribe to CRT — power redirected back to the founders.

This is the world that’s being pushed by people who want to adopt CRT training in workplaces and in schools right now. CRT is about power, not about race.

Bell walking with a group of Harvard Law students during his 1990 protest for a black female tenured professor.

3. CRT is Fascist. 

Not only does CRT actively work to dismantle the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, and not only does CRT look to disenfranchise good people in order to preserve power for a few, but it always makes sure to get in the way of real progress as it’s happening. It seems that every time there were positive changes in the world, Bell slammed his hand down in the middle of it. He stopped it with words and redirected the energy back to himself and CRT.

In 1992, Bell said to The New York Times that black Americans were more subjugated than at any other time since slavery. There was “a more effective, more sophisticated means of domination,” Bell said. 

Really? In a year when black people thrived and led American culture, with Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, Michael Jordan at the height of their popularity? 

Bell said in 1988 to The St. Petersburg Times: “Whites who lack wealth and power are sustained in their sense of racial superiority, and thus rendered more willing to accept their lesser share, by an unspoken but no less certain property right in their ‘whiteness.’ ” 

Was he trying to make working class white people feel guilty? That was his contribution to racial discourse during a year in which the Rev. Jesse Jackson led a rally for auto workers in Wisconsin to protest Chrysler closing their plant.

And then there was the Harvard Law School student protest for Bell in 1990. (This event attracted attention in 2012 during former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.) Bell was waging war against the law school yet again, for not having a black female tenured professor. This time, students joined his cause.

News coverage of the event at the time shows the same kind of protest happening then as what is happening on college campuses across the country right now. There was the same reaction from college administrators. And the students elevating Bell, who had done much to damage race relations at the school, as a sage — in order to protect their status as “Harvard Law students.”

To the general public looking on, the news segment showed an aggrieved-looking black professor who might have needed the students’ support. But in the context of what was going on at Harvard, and had gone on for two decades, this was rotten. By 1990, Harvard should have pivoted toward merit. The students insisted on keeping it mired in politics. 

This was the forerunner to the violent, “woke” protests happening on college campuses now.

What was the saving grace of the Harvard Law protest in 1990 was Jesse Jackson became involved at the request of the students.

Harvard at first refused his offer to help. But Jackson went to Harvard anyway and held a rally that was attended by 300 students. The “moral character” of Harvard was on trial, Jackson said.

”The university that sits highest on the hill is obligated to set an example,” Jackson said, reported The New York Times. ”To say in 1990 that there is no African-American woman qualified for appointment to Harvard Law School is both an error and a gross insult to our intelligence. It is humiliating.”

In effect, Jackson neutralized Bell’s divisive actions for the public, incorporating the event into the perspective of the Civil Rights Movement and the national conversation. The general public knew how much racism there still was at universities in 1990. That was a reality. What was going on at Harvard was too insular for the public to understand or care at the time.

After this controversy, throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s, Bell’s influence waned. He still taught at universities. But his ability to cause a firestorm and make headlines was done. Bell became more and more unknown to the general public. Harvard’s academic reputation remained intact. 

Bell and CRT have been divisive, self-serving, and all about breaking real progress in order to preserve privilege for the few.

This is a form of Fascism. 

The fact is there never has been a real movement inside academia to push back against CRT. And CRT has been one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem in academia over the past half century. Even after Bell died in 2011, its rotten impact unfortunately remained. Too much damage had been done.

Conclusion

Economist Thomas Sowell, a long-time critic of Bell, gave his assessment of the man to Fox News host Sean Hannity in 2012. Sowell is senior fellow on Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

In 1990, Sowell said, “He has also said that by ‘black,’ he does not mean skin color. He means those who are really black, not those who think white and look black. What he’s really saying is he wants ideological conformity… .” 

“He’s an idealist, self-sacrificing and so on. I suppose one could have seen Hitler that way in his early days,” Sowell added. 

“There is this ideological intolerance that Bell has,” Sowell said to Hannity in 2012. “He really has this totalitarian mindset. … You really have to understand Derrick Bell was put in an impossible position. He was hired as a full law professor at the Harvard Law School when he himself said that he did not have the kind of qualifications. … His option was to be a nobody among world-famous intellectuals or to go off on his own shtick and try to be important or significant in that way. He chose the low road.” 

“(Bell) has turned his back on the ideal of a colorblind society. And he’s really for a ‘getting even’ society, a revenge society,” he added.

Without people like Sowell saying honestly what they think of Bell over the years, there would be no clarity on CRT at all. 

Because the “revenge society” is exactly what has happened to this country in recent years, in no small part to people in power who insist on giving Bell and CRT status and legitimacy even while the public and American culture keep moving past it. 

In 1990, CRT could have ended, Harvard students let it go on. In 2001, it could have ended then, but New York University printed Delgado’s book. In 2012 with Bell gone, Obama’s re-election and 2017 with Trump’s election, yet again, the public repeatedly said it had moved on but UNC Chapel Hill supporting Delgado and Stefancic and then NYU extended a hand. 

Instead of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, CRT insists on “permanent racism.” Instead of President John F. Kennedy’s message of serving your country, it teaches people how to build entire careers out of tearing it down. 

Nothing grows in the world CRT wants to build. In order for this country to move forward, CRT has to finally end. 

“Lawn Boy” IS pedophilic. Here’s why. (Explicit)

By Monica Chen 

The author of “Lawn Boy” and his supporters say parents who want the book removed from libraries have not read it, and do not put it in the right context. 

Alright, I read the book. Its pedophilic, exploitative and abusive elements go beyond the swear words and the sexual passages. 

To sum up the news surrounding “Lawn Boy”: A mother in Leander, Texas, took her son to a school board meeting and read passages from the book out loud last September. That video is here. Jonathan Evison, the author of “Lawn Boy,” posted a statement to the publisher’s web site, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. That statement is here.

Evison and his supporters want to say the book is a coming of age story and add an extra layer of LGBT romance to defend and cover up its actual attack on boys, on young men, on the freedom that kids should have while they grow up. The gay romance is not important to this book at all.

Basically, the book reads like a neighbor who develops a fixation on a boy who lives down the street — and decides to write fanfiction about him. And that’s not all. The fanfiction is written in the first person, as that boy.

That is the extent to which Evison and his supporters want to take ownership of the lives, the sexuality, and the ambition of young men. And he invites all readers of his book to do the same. It is truly disgusting and disturbing. 

Here are the disturbing passages I found in this book.

Page 11:

“That’s me, little Mike Munoz, standing in the middle. A sad-eyed ferret of a kid, skinny and bewildered, slight olive complexion, dark rings under my eyes. Greasy bangs plastered to my forehead, faded Toughskins jeans riding halfway up my shins. On my back, a dirty brown coat with a fake-fur collar. Not exactly the kid from the Sears catalog but a kid all the same. Eight years old and looking for a little security, a little self-confidence — any self-confidence, really. Just a third grader, bottom lip chafed from obsessive licking, little fingernails bitten to the quick, aching for a good time.” 

“Aching for a good time.” Is this really an adult man talking about pictures of himself as a child? Or is it a creepy neighbor thinking about a boy who lives down the street?

More on page 11:

“That’s what kids should do, they should laugh. If there’s a better, righter sound in the whole world than the laughter of children, I don’t know what it is.” 

What a creepy statement. Adult men don’t think about kids this way. Adult men don’t dwell on children.

Page 13:

“But there’s one thing I’d never tell Nick in a million years, not that it really matters: in fourth grade, at a church youth-group meeting, out in the bushes behind the parsonage, I touched Doug Goble’s dick, and he touched mine. In fact, there were even some mouths involved. It’s not something I’d even think about all these years later, except that Goble is the hottest real-estate agent in Kitsap County. His face is all over town — signs, billboards, Christ, even on shopping carts. Do you know what I think three times a day when I see his picture? I wonder, all these years later, why he just kicked our friendship to the curb like that. Was it shame?” 

What more can be said about this beyond the obvious?

What if this book was about a 23-year-old woman who was reminiscing about the time she and another girl, at 10 years old, in fourth grade, gave each other oral sex? People would be disgusted and shocked, wouldn’t they? Why are people OK with this being described of little boys?

Page 44. The descriptions of oral sex between children continue. The narrator also develops, out of the blue, a fixation on Doug Goble (“the hottest real estate agent in town”) and daydreams about him:

“What if I told you I touched another guy’s dick?” I said. … “What if I told you I sucked it?” … “I was ten years old, but it’s true. I put Doug Goble’s dick in my mouth.”

Page 73:

“All I could think about while he was chatting me up over the rim of his cappuccino was his little salamander between my fourth-grade fingers, rapidly engorging with blood.” 

This is the passage that gives away the intentions of the book. The author is actually thinking about children this way. Who reminisces about an early sexual encounter in these words? Who would think back on something like this from when they were 10 as if it was a good thing?

Imagine being a teenager and finding this book in a library, flipping through it and stumbling across this passage. You know. The author is talking about you.

Imagine being an actual victim of sexual abuse and reading this, and then reading all the defenses of this book, by Evison, by the publishing industry, by the media, by school boards. Imagine going to a bookstore and seeing this book there. How much re-traumatizing of victims has taken place these past few years? 

None of my teachers I had growing up would have been OK with this book. That was in the ’90s. Why has that changed? What teachers and librarians OK with this now?

And here is what’s even more abusive about “Lawn Boy.”

“Lawn Boy” is actually two books. The first is the “coming of age” story Evison desperately wants to sell. The second is the actual book, which is about the sleazy, scummy businessmen of 2018, the year the book was published, that Evison refuses to fully write.

In the first book, the writing is slow and awkward. The dialogue is forced, tries to hard to sound like working class guys. The perspective shifts and the reader is never quite sure where we are directed to look and why. The book is supposed to be set in Washington state and the narrator is supposed to be Chicano. But the details don’t line up. A weariness and heat permeates the book, as if it’s set in 1970s-1980s New Mexico or Texas. (Shoulder pads on waitress uniforms? Really?) The narrator sounds like a solidly white guy.

At the chapter titled “Is that you?” is when the second, real “Lawn Boy” book is shown. (That is the same chapter in which the “salamander” passage occurs.)

That second book is about sleazy, greedy, slick businessmen. Doug Goble — the “hottest real estate agent in town,” we are told over and over — is a soulless, slick guy. He has no scruples. He crashes Little League games to prowl for business. Here, the dialogue flows, the tone is sharp, the perspective comes into focus. It’s not Texas or Washington state. It’s 2018 Anywhere, USA suburbia, ruled by scummy businessmen. This is the world Evison is thrilled by and really wants to describe. This is “Lawn Boy.”

So why didn’t Evison simply write, “Lawn Boy: A story of penis-touching businessmen”?

Why not just write the second book, go full “American Psycho”? Why lasso in some “Chicano” kid as the narrator? Well, probably because “American Psycho” exposed the sociopathy of its world, 1980s Wall Street. When that’s done, it makes society reflect on itself. By not exposing the sleazy businessmen of the suburbs in 2018, by not writing the second “Lawn Boy” all the way, Evison ensures that society can’t reflect. We are stuck in reactive mode. Readers have to take in all the disgusting details of the book as right and good, just reality. “They. Didn’t. Even. Read. It.” That’s literally Evison’s comeback at parents who dare to say the book is unsuitable for their kids.

What Evison has done is use the innocence of a coming of age story to cover up the sociopathy of the scummy world he really loves. In doing so, he connects boys and young men growing up right now to that world. Anyone who wants to objectify and exploit young men, all they have to do is read this book and reduce any ambitious man to a boy “aching for a good time.”

This is completely disgusting.

By instinct, parents know this is what’s happening. They are speaking up to break that connection.

More context from 2018

“Lawn Boy” was published in the first half of 2018. The Parkland shooting had just taken place. And there was the “Havana Syndrome.” Remember that? 

I was working in Wake County at that time and on my daily commute, that spring, “Alive” by Pearl Jam was always on the radio. I wondered a lot about the safety of kids during that time. It was a precarious, dangerous time. 

Algonquin Books, the publisher of “Lawn Boy,” is located in Chapel Hill, so they must have also seen and felt the same things. Did no one ever say that maybe they should not publish this book? Did no one question the sexual passages about children and say maybe they need to be edited out? Did no one drive through Franklin Street, go to the mall, go anywhere really, and see how overwhelmed and scared and on pins and needles people were, and think that maybe this book was not a good thing to put out into the world? 

Evison wrote in his statement on Algonquin that mostly men have voiced their negative opinions about Lawn Boy to him. Good! Men know what’s going on. 

Parents and men across the country need to join together and keep speaking up about Lawn Boy and other books like it. You are not anti-intellectual. You are not being reactionary. Your instincts with books are right. You should be trusted and heard. 

What’s going on with Ukraine and Russia? A brief explainer. 

By Monica Chen 

Russia is vocally denying that it had anything to do with the recent cyberattack on the Ukrainian government. 

But the conflict in the Donbass, the Southeastern part of Ukraine, has going on for years now. More than 13,000 people have been killed. What is it? Why has it not been resolved? Where is it headed? 

Russian officials are frustrated with the narrative in the global media. The Russian deputy representative to the United Nations also pointedly corrected the U.S. Under Secretary of State this past week: 

But anyone in the world would be alarmed at the build-up of Russian forces at the Ukrainian border, numbering more than 100,000 troops as of the past week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

What’s going on?

Imagine if two regions in Mexico with significant ties to America declared they were seceding from Mexico and pleaded to America for assistance, saying the Mexican government had become intolerably Fascist. Imagine America sending assistance to those regions, but then they turn around and sign agreements with the Mexican government to sell them valuable exports. 

Imagine if at the same time, those Mexican independent regions are vandalizing and tearing down statues of American leaders. Then imagine America was constantly blasted in newspapers around the world that it was planning to invade Mexico — any day now! But the leaders of those secessionist regions, that we have been helping, never say a word to correct that assumption. 

Now substitute in Ukraine and Russia in the above scenario. That’s what has been going on for the past eight years. 

Coal-rich Donetsk and Lugansk regions, together making up the Donbass in Eastern Ukraine declared their independence, by overwhelming Democratic vote, in 2014. That was shortly after the first New Year’s Day annual torchlight march for Stephan Bandera, a Ukraine nationalist figure. That was alarming, because Bandera was an ally of Adolf Hitler in World War II. The world’s media focused its attention on the Crimea in 2014 and the Donbass was largely ignored. Russia made the mistake of speaking up for those regions in 2014 and has been dragged along in their conflict ever since. 

The Minsk peace agreement from 2014 has been largely ignored.

More recently, in December, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was charged with treason for — yes, helping the “Russia-backed separatists” sell about $54 million worth of coal to Kyiv in 2014 and 2015. 

Some questions: 

Why did Donestk and Lugansk secede from Ukraine in 2014? Besides creepy torchlight marches for Bandera, the Ukrainian government had not taken any action that hurt the regions.

What countries, with their own independent governments and economy, free from foreign aid, are the leaders of the regions wanting to build? 

Why does the newspaper of the Donetsk People’s Republic portray the area as peaceful and prosperous if they are supposedly oppressed and war-torn? Wouldn’t the newspaper of an area going through turmoil want to publicize what’s really going on there and make the case to the world what needs to be done about the aggressor? 

In the video, why does the soldier say the reward at the end of the war would be a passport to Russia? Shouldn’t it be sovereignty? Shouldn’t it be having your own country? 

Do the people of Donetsk and Lugansk really want to have their own countries, or do they just not want to participate in their own country, that is, Ukraine? 

WCPSS breaks own district policy, keeps “Lawn Boy” at Cary High

By Monica Chen 

A Wake schools district committee on Wednesday supported Cary High School’s decision to keep a book with obscene content in the school library.

There is just one problem. 

According to district policy, Cary High School was supposed to set up its own committee to examine the book in question. The Central Instructional Materials Advisory Committee does not step in until there is an appeal by the parents. Neither of those things has happened. 

The central committee decided at a Wednesday meeting behind closed doors to keep “Lawn Boy” at Cary High. That was to protect the complaining parent’s privacy, according to The News & Observer.

A group of parents filed criminal complaints against Wake County Public Schools System on Nov. 30, on counts of distribution of pornography and sex offense against juveniles. 

The parents say the books are obscene and amount to “grooming,” or making kids more susceptible to sexual abuse. The books they object to are: “George,” by Alex Gino; “Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison; “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe; and “Blankets,” by Craig Thompson.

In “Lawn Boy,” the author describes two 10-year-old boys engaging in oral sex. 

Cary High Principal Nolan Bryant did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. 

Lisa Luten, spokeswoman for Wake County Public School Systems, previously referred to district policies, “Policy Code 3210” and “Regulation Code: 3210-R&P,” in response to the parents’ complaints. Those policies require principals to set up committees at individual schools to examine questionable content in books. 

“Parents can object to materials. And therefore, because they can object to materials, there is a process for that,” Luten said in December. “They have to go through the process.”

Such committees would be made up of the media coordinator, two teachers with specialty in the content, two parents and the principal, at a minimum. 

“If the committee determines that any material violates constitutional or other legal rights of the parent or student, the principal or the committee shall either remove the material from instructional use or accommodate the particular student and parent,” the policy states. 

The Central Instructional Materials Advisory Committee only looks into the complaint if there is an appeal by the parents. 

The Spring Magazine reached out to Luten for comments on Thursday about why WCPSS did not follow its own district policy, and why Cary High did not form a committee for its decision. Luten did not respond. 

Parents around the country have called on school officials to take action on the same books and others.

The parents in Wake County are citing federal and state laws on distributing obscene content, in particular to minors, as grounds for their removal. They say they do not understand why the books were available in the first place.

On Wednesday, The N&O also reported that Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has decided not to pursue the matter.

“We are pressing criminal charges because we want these adults to be held accountable, and we don’t want them to ever work with kids again,” said Michele Morrow, a mother of four who lives in Cary, in December.

Wake DA silent on parents’ criminal charges against schools for pornography

By Monica Chen

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has not taken any actions following parents filing criminal charges on pornography against Wake schools in recent weeks.

Freeman’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment before Christmas and after the holiday last week. 

A group of parents filed nine complaints at the Wake County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 30, on counts of distribution of pornography and sex offense against juveniles.

The parents say they are concerned the books are “grooming” children to become more susceptible to sexual abuse and sexual assault. 

“We are pressing criminal charges because we want these adults to be held accountable, and we don’t want them to ever work with kids again,” said Michele Morrow, a nurse and a mother of four who lives in Cary. 

Morrow is a member of Liberty First Grassroots and Education First Alliance. The loose group of parents also include members of Moms For Liberty of Wake County. 

The parents had been involved in looking into critical race theory and mask mandates in schools and found out about the books in September. A father found one in his son’s backpack and began contacting school board members. So far, they have identified four books with obscene content: “George,” by Alex Gino; “Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison; “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe; and “Blankets,” by Craig Thompson. 

Parents around the country have called on school officials to take action on the same books and others. They point out the books are so explicit, adults can’t even read them out loud. If they read them on television, it would break broadcasting rules.

The Wake parents are citing federal and state laws on distributing obscene content, in particular to minors, as grounds for their removal. They say they do not understand why the books were available in the first place. 

“Somebody is making the decision to order these books and make them available online and to make them available in specific elementary schools. We are hoping to figure out the chain of custody,” said Beatrice Setnick, another parent. 

The parents are identifying which school libraries the books are available in. They also are looking for help to read through more books for obscene content. 

Wake schools are also connected to the public libraries meaning students can check out the same books there online without age restrictions. Before the holidays, Wake County Public Libraries pulled “Gender Queer” from its shelves. 

Wake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Eric Curry said they were waiting for the district attorney to make a decision on the books before taking further action.

“We have begun an inquiry into the complaints. The DA’s office will decide on whether to move forward,” Curry said. 

When reached for comment, Wake County Public Schools System spokeswoman Lisa Luten referred to district policies, “Policy Code 3210” and “Regulation Code: 3210-R&P.” They call for principals to set up committees at individual schools to examine questionable content in books. The policies were adopted in February 2017. 

“Parents can object to materials. And therefore, because they can object to materials, there is a process for that,” Luten said. “They have to go through the process.” 

When asked if WCPSS has any comments on concerns for the parents or the students, Luten said in an e-mail: “Your question was specifically if it is the opinion of the district that these books cause harm to students. The answer to that question is still being determined.”

Wake County Schools Superintendent Cathy Moore did not respond to a request for comment. 

“We’ve talked to principals, the school board of Wake County. We’ve talked to Cathy Moore. We’ve talked to (State Superintendent) Catherine Truitt. And there has been absolute silence,” Morrow said. “And that is why we said we’re taking this to the authorities because we must protect our kids. It is compulsory that kids are enrolled in school. And they are now a completely captive audience.”

Morrow also questioned why these books are available but the academics at WCPSS have been allowed to lapse. 

Wake County is North Carolina’s largest school district, with about 163,000 students in 191 schools. 

“Ten years ago, we were 18th in the country for the best school system. We are now 34th. There is no reason why our children need to be exposed to sexuality and sexual perversion in schools,” Morrow said. “There is a very large difference between teaching kids about the changes their bodies will go through during puberty and making sexual acts between kids common-place. It’s a felony to even give access to this filth to anyone under the age of 18.”

Parents around the country have raised the same concerns, including in Virginia, Texas, Utah, Iowa, Indiana and South Carolina. Some also have filed police reports.

Some elected officials have taken action. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the state’s education commissioner to investigate criminal activity in schools in making the books available. 

Last week, Oklahoma state legislators introduced a bill allowing parents to request the removal of a book from school libraries if it contains sexual content. If the employee in charge of removing the book does not do so, according to Fox News, they will be dismissed and not be re-hired for two years. 

Morrow said that in recent years in Wake County, there has been more focus on gender and sexuality in schools. More books that are taught now are about sexual struggles or sexual abuse. 

“(Kids) are not emotionally, intellectually, spiritually able to handle these topics. Our school systems should be about training our kids to be good, mature adults. It’s not about their identity being wrapped up in their gender and who they’re attracted to,” Morrow said. 

“We’re replacing Dr. Seuss with Dr. Ruth. So Dr. Seuss is offensive to people, and this isn’t?” she added.

In fact, the sexual content has become so prevalent that Morrow said she is worried they are amounting to “grooming,” that is, breaking down a person’s defense systems and making them open to and accepting of sexual abuse. 

“Children before 10 or 12 years old, they are very concrete thinkers. They’ll believe in Santa Claus. They’ll believe in the Tooth Fairy. If you have children as a captive audience for eight hours a day with an adult telling them something, they’re going to believe that,” Morrow said.  

“Children naturally have a God-given protection against an adult coming at them in a sexual way. They are naturally aversive. The adult lures them into something and then they… tell them they have to keep it a secret. So what happens is when we start telling children that it’s natural and it’s just a lifestyle choice, you are naturally taking away their protections,” Morrow said. 

“That is what is termed as ‘grooming.’ You’re breaking down their defenses to what naturally in their conscience they know is naturally wrong. And that is what’s going on in schools. And they are doing it to children,” she added. 

Morrow is now homeschooling her youngest child.

Setnick said the parents are taking this matter very seriously and she wants the community to pay attention.

“This material certainly falls under the statute for obscenity. It also violates U.S. federal law for transfer of obscene materials, and especially transfer of obscene materials to minors,” said Setnick. “This is a very serious matter in our eyes. It involves sexual acts with children, which is… I just can’t imagine how this is educational to have books describing a 9-year-old child performing oral sex.” 

“I see no educational merit. And I am concerned that this is about normalizing sexual behavior in our children. This is nothing but a grooming material,” she added. “A lot of these materials obviously can’t be presented in the media because of the graphic content. If it’s too graphic to be shown, should it be in the hands of a child?” 

“Parents need to understand. Lawmakers really need to look at this very closely. This kind of material in the hands of children is very dangerous,” Setnick said. 

Opinion: The controversy over “Gender Queer” masks a bigger problem. Is it a true memoir? (Explicit)

By Monica Chen

As parents around the country have called for the banning of “Gender Queer: A Memoir” over explicit images, the media has painted it as a fight of conservative parents against LGBT people wanting to live freely.

But the parents’ concerns about the book just scratch the surface. “Gender Queer” as a memoir does not add up.

First, my opinion is that parents are right to be concerned about the explicit images “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe.

Yes, it should be banned for those images. Here is that scene from the book:

This steps over the line from normal levels of sensuality and sex in books to something more explicit that you can’t find in a regular bookstore.

Kobabe, 31, based in San Francisco, has said the book is meant to help queer kids come to terms with themselves.

That is false. Teenage girls do not have to look at images of their genitalia in books in libraries, especially school libraries, and somehow, they grow up fine. In fact, it would be more traumatizing than beneficial for girls to see that in a library. So why would it be different for gay kids?

Briefly on the pronouns

Kobabe actually figured out the answer to her questions fairly young. She was 14 when she discovered that she is asexual. She does not stick with that answer and keeps questioning her sexuality, only to find time and time again, she is asexual. 

Then, in 2017, she decides upon new pronouns, “e, eim, eir.” But an asexual woman is still a woman. There is nothing wrong with “she, her, hers.” 

Everything else wrong with “Gender Queer”

“I feel like my book in particular has been caught up in a viral social media moment because it’s a comic, because you can snap a pic of one panel you disagree with and share it completely removed from context of the rest of the book, it gets shared without people ever seeing the book or reading the whole thing,” Kobabe said to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat recently.

That’s true. That one explicit scene felt out of place in “Gender Queer.” The context of the rest of the book is that it browbeats the reader, has no emotional arc and feels deeply false.

Far from being “heartfelt,” as reviews have called it, this book reads like propaganda: “This is how you live, think and feel if you want to be a good gay person.” 

It manages the reader to look at only what the author wants you to see, and misdirects the reader.

Kobabe, 31, grew up in Santa Rosa, then went to school in San Francisco and is currently based there. The book runs the span of 1992 to 2017. A good chunk of time to be exploring your sexuality.

The story begins with a run-of-the-mill scene with her parents and then immediately takes a turn. The reader is made to think Kobabe has a secret that’s so big, she can’t stand using it as a writing prompt in graduate school. Then, she describes an idyllic childhood on 120 acres of land and hints overwhelmingly that something bad happened to her. Why the images of pee and snakes? What’s going on with Galen? (Spoiler: There is no secret. Nothing hurt her. Nothing happened with Galen.)

Along the way, the book then keeps dropping hints that something went awry in Kobabe’s childhood. The reader picks up these little tidbits: When she was 11 years old, she still didn’t know how to read. When she was 18, she still didn’t know how to type. 

How are her parents always so financially stable and have time to discuss her sexuality with her on long walks? Why does she keep acting like it’s forbidden in California in the Aughts to come out as whatever she wanted — in ultra-liberal Sonoma County and San Francisco? And how does a grad student have time to write that much One Direction fanfiction?

These things are never explained. Those tidbits never add up to anything else. But the details start adding up to a strange picture that Kobabe goes out of her way to paint: “Gender Queer” feels like it takes place in a shorter time frame than 25 years. The story also hovers in a space above the context of real life, untouched by world events.

And why does this self-portrait feel like a deliberate mix of people from the ’90s?

There are too many questions with the basic story of the book. But the biggest problem that clues the reader in to how false this book is, is one scene from 2017.

The March for Trans Rights

In a book of bad moments, one of the worst was when Kobabe goes to a Trans Rights March and out of sheer self-absorption, decides to make it about herself. 

For most of the book before that, she insisted on wearing the drab clothes and discussed with and browbeat her family and friends into giving her exactly what she wants. Then, suddenly after seeing trans people, she didn’t want them anymore.

So she went to the march not to support trans people and for community but — for competition?

The problem with this scene is bigger than even that. 

When Kobabe wrote that she went to a march in the spring of 2017, was she talking about this march in Santa Rosa that was attended mostly by people who were not trans? Or was she talking about the one in San Francisco that she went to, and posted images from on social media?

That was also not the first time she went to a trans rights march. Kobabe was not the shy outsider looking for community and acceptance like she portrayed herself.  

And was she ever a drab dresser? 

Kobabe has misrepresented herself too much in this book that’s a memoir. Far from being an outsider with maybe a secret and maybe some trauma from childhood like she keeps hinting at, Kobabe on social media looks successful and has a supportive, accepting community at every step of her life.

And yet in 2018, when Kobabe was interviewed about this book’s upcoming release, she said:

“I built the outline of this book by paging through 14 years of high school and college journals and pulling out everything I felt like I could never say,” said Kobabe to The Hollywood Reporter.

There were things Kobabe couldn’t say? The entire book is about how much Kobabe talks to everyone around her about her sexuality!

The organizations boosting Kobabe after “Gender Queer” was published ignore these very obvious problems. 

The Michigan nonprofit Stand For Trans gave “Gender Queer” a glowing review and made her a featured speaker for Trans Empowerment Month, even though she is not trans. “Gender Queer is Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography that charts eir journey of self-identity. … All eir stories are heartfelt, deeply honest, raw and personal, yet also told with good humor and Maia’s wonderful graphic art.” 

In 2019, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco conveniently cropped out the words on a panel to feature Kobabe in a book signing for the trans rights march that year.

Why do these organizations, as well as the publishing industry and the media, continue to ignore these obvious questions and glaring discrepancies about this book and its author? Why did The Washington Post give Kobabe space to write a rebuttal to parents but has never reviewed the book?

And if this one scene looks to be false, what else in the book did not happen? How much in “Gender Queer” is a memoir, and how much is embellishments? 

The parents’ concerns about the explicit sex scene is right, and those instincts point to much bigger problems with this book. I think that “Gender Queer” has so many problems, it never should have been published. 

What is Liz Cheney’s Wyoming?

By Monica Chen

If someone only knew about Wyoming from paying attention to Liz Cheney, they might think it was a cozy, domestic kind of place.

A state that likes to hold a lot of meetings in rooms with pin-cushioned couches. A state that holds a lot of conferences in comfy banquet halls. And a place where people really like Zoom meetings.

They also might think people in Wyoming are frothing at the mouth angry about what happened on Jan. 6 and desperately want their Congressional representative, the Republican Cheney, to take action.

But Cheney was ousted from the Wyoming Republican party in November for her role on the committee and also because she was a no-show at county party meetings.

In response, as CBS News reported, Cheney’s office turned up its nose: “She is bound by her oath to the Constitution,” a spokesman said. “Sadly, a portion of the Wyoming GOP leadership has abandoned that fundamental principle, and instead allowed themselves to be held hostage to the lies of a dangerous and irrational man.”

Come election time, Cheney will probably find out that it’s not a good idea to paint members of your own party, in your own state, as crazy.

And that would be particularly the case when Cheney doesn’t seem to do anything in Wyoming but Zoom into meetings.

And even when she is there, she is still tied to Washington, D.C., she makes Wyoming look like a suburb.

What is this state that loves Chamber of Commerce-like photo ops with the warm light of the sun reflecting off the Potomac River? Is it somewhere in Maryland?

It’s as if she hurried out of her office in D.C. into a car and half an hour later, she’s at a taxpayers association meeting at a hotel with paid actors. In fact, that would be more believable than Cheney actually being in Wyoming.

The casualness of these posts signals that something is very awry. Just meeting with some constituents, then back to the regularly scheduled programming of tweets about energy, energy, gas, oil, Jan. 6 (pencil that in for a special day), inflation, energy. Being an elected official should not be this easy.

Especially not in Wyoming. Because this is Wyoming.

Cheyenne, Wyo., in 2012. Source: Creative Commons
July 4 parade in Lander, Wyo., in 1984. Source: Creative Commons 
Jackson, Wyo., in 2005. Source: Creative Commons

What is Wyoming in these photos? Wyoming is strong, and grand, and rich in history.

It’s not domesticated. It’s nothing like Maryland.

The cognitive dissonance, and that’s the best way to put it, that comes with observing Cheney’s behavior with Wyoming is too strong.

More than anyone else, Cheney does not at all represent the place she has been elected to represent. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez conveys a sense of the Bronx and why the constituents there voted for them.

So why is Cheney a big blank when it comes to Wyoming? It’s because Cheney is a Wyomingite only on paper, and just barely. She was born there, but she moved away for most of her life. She graduated from high school in Virginia. College and law school were in Colorado and Chicago. Her career was spent all in D.C. Then in 2013, she moved back to establish residence and run for office.

Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, also has tenuous ties there. He is from Nebraska, and went to high school and college in Wyoming, the latter only after first dropping out of Yale University. After getting his Master’s in political science at the University of Wyoming, he left again, that time to Wisconsin. Then it was on to D.C.

Have any of the media ever asked Liz Cheney: Why are you running for office here when you barely know this state?

Unlike Cheney, the governor of Wyoming does actually know the state:

Not only does Cheney not respect what makes Wyoming the place it is, but she doesn’t even seem interested in being a legislator to serve the people who live there. A new bill on Nov. 30, the desperately cobbled together “PILLR Act,” is the most recent horrible example:

“To direct the Secretary of the Interior to compensate states for lost revenue for any year during which federal oil and gas leasing of Federal land within a state does not occur or otherwise results in lost revenue to that state as a result of an order, moratorium, pause, or other action by the President, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, or other designated official.”

This is the title for that bill. Other more normal bills are headlined in more sane terms.

Alright, Liz Cheney. We get it. You are a “pillar,” standing against the horrible Jan. 6 insurgency.

How about Build Back Better?

Cheney has tweeted about Build Back Better just once, to bemoan the IRS expansion.

She expresses no other thoughts about it. She never talks about it directly. It’s always “the Biden administration’s runaway spending.”

She also has said nothing about President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandatess, despite it being so unpopular in Wyoming that they have joined nine other states in suing the Biden administration.

How is anyone allowed to do so little and coast along and be this comfortable, let alone the Congressperson from a place like Wyoming?

This is Wyoming.

How could this be ignored?

Liz Cheney doesn’t seem to have any affection for Wyoming at all. She doesn’t even seem to know it on paper.

A big problem with the “Civilian Climate Corps”

By Monica Chen

On social media, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has been pushing for the “Civilian Climate Corps” and its inclusion in the $2 trillion Build Back Better Act. But more than a joint project between AmeriCorps and the Department of Labor, the proposed entity would cut into the work done by the National Parks system, as well as state and local government parks.

“To me the greatest risk is doing nothing on climate or doing too little,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the press conference pushing the Green New Deal in April, held in front of The Capitol.

“That is a greater political risk,” she added, according to CBS News.

Civilian Climate Corps has been planned to be large. But it’s not proposed as its own entity. It would be part of several federal agencies, but not give them oversight and giving no space for public input.

In her statements, Ocasio-Cortez has said the Civilian Climate Corps would cost $30 billion and hire 300,000 people, and would be administered by AmeriCorps and the Department of Labor. But on paper, in the Build Back Better legislation, the Civilian Climate Corps would cost $7.22 billion.

And when it was included in the BBB Act in November, AmeriCorps stayed quiet. It did not acknowledge that it would be part of the proposed new program, leaving many questions on its involvement.

The budget of the Civilian Climate Corps would be bigger than long-running federal agencies. The entire National Forest Service’s budget for fiscal year 2021 was $7.4 billion. If the new Civilian Climate Corps would be publicly and privately funded to the tune of $30 million, as AOC has said, then it would dwarf the National Forest Service and National Park Service combined.

The rundown from the BBB bill:

  • $2.25 billion for the Civilian Climate Corps to manage lands in the National Forest System.
  • Another $2.25 billion for Civilian Climate Corps to carry out projects on non-federal land, through the Forest Service state and private forestry mission areas, such as rural and urban conservation and tree-planting.

Here’s where it gets even scarier:

  • $1.7 billion for a National Park Service Civilian Climate Corps, to conduct conservation projects on all lands managed by the National Park Service. Conservation would mean the restoration or construction of “natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreation or scenic resources.”

It’s not just “restoring wetlands,” in the idyllic picture that Ocasio-Cortez has painted with the help of The Intercept. This is a large amount of funding to make changes to natural and historic places given to people who won’t be working under the NPS, who didn’t go to school to go into forestry or archeology, and like other AmeriCorps workers, will not stay in it for the long term.

And there’s more:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Civilian Climate Corps.: $400 million

Tribal Civilian Climate Corps.: $500 million

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Civilian Climate Corps.: $120 million

Questions:

What could the “Civilian Climate Corps” do on such a massive scale that isn’t already being managed well enough by the federal agencies it would be riding the coattails of?

Why should more public funds be spent hiring people who are not skilled at this work, and who didn’t go to school for this work and who have no interest in it, who are doing this on a temporary basis — than agencies with clear missions and more than a century of experience?

Who would manage and provide oversight to the Civilian Climate Corps? Would that be AmeriCorps which has no experience on this scale, or the Department of Labor which has no expertise on forest management? Or would it be AOC herself who has experience in neither?

Why should public funds be used to pay nonprofits when the existing federal agencies are doing a good enough job already?

Why would this new corps cut into the work of state and local parks and local government, taking it out of communities’ say so? How does that benefit communities?

The National Park Service has to provide an annual budget. Changes in National Parks are also open to public comments. People can voice concerns over how federal lands are managed. Where is that room for the general public, who will be paying for this new program, to have some input on what the Civilian Climate Corps wants to do?

People who work in the different agencies also have their own mission and history. The National Forest System was established in 1891. The National Park Service was established in 1916. Different eras, different history, different missions. Why should a new organization be allowed to butt into their work?

Lastly, we are not going through the Great Depression. There are jobs available. If there are natural disasters severe enough to need mobilization at the federal level, then the National Forest System and National Park Service have the experience and the resources to do that, not a new untrained, scattered, overpaid agency.

Nancy Pelosi’s $200 million gift to the Presidio Trust

By Monica Chen

Despite Republican outcries of earmarks and payoffs earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has kept $200 million in appropriations for The Presidio Trust in the Build Back Better plan.

Tucked into the massive 2,000-page bill are two paragraphs giving the organization that sum, to be doled out in fiscal year 2022 and available until 2026, for “carrying out projects.” The trust manages the Presidio National Park, a 1,480-acre park at the northern tip of San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

When Pelosi’s office was asked by reporters in September why the trust needed that money, the answer was that it was “to help meet the needs of this incredibly popular national park in this difficult financial moment.”

“Sadly, it’s clear Republicans would rather play politics than preserve our national treasures,” a spokesperson said to Fox News.

But the Presidio National Park is mostly used by San Franciscans, unknown to the rest of the country.

The trust is also flush with cash. In 2021, its total revenue was $131 million, according to financial statements. This year, it will finish its biggest and most expensive project to date, the $121 million Tunnel Tops project, to build 14 acres of new park land on top of highway tunnels. To pay for increasingly more expensive projects, it keeps taking loans from the U.S. Treasury. As of 2021, it owes $61.7 million. Total assets are $776.4 million.

On top of that, the Presidio Trust in its founding was meant to be financially self-sustaining by 2013. But Pelosi has helped it secure federal funds even when it was already posting a profit. In 2011, when Congress wanted to pull funding, Pelosi’s office fired off a news release decrying that possibility.

“From its creation, we intended the Presidio to eventually become financially self-sustaining; every year, the federal investment required for the Presidio decreases. Instead, today’s misguided Republican action would result in higher future obligations by the federal government,” Pelosi said in the press statement.

“The Presidio Trust is well on its way toward meeting its financial, stewardship, and public use goals, and is headed toward self-sufficiency in 2013. I will fight alongside Senators Feinstein and Boxer to ensure that this damaging provision never becomes law,” she added.

But according to The San Francisco Chronicle in 2005, in a lengthy Sunday feature, the Presidio Trust celebrated the milestone of posting a profit for the first time that year. It had $43.2 million in revenue and spent $40.5 million in expenses.

“It’s emerging as the national park that we wanted it to be,” said Greg Moore to the Chronicle. Moore was the director of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The Presidio is part of the 82,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the bills to establish the Presidio Trust in 1994. Source: The Presidio Trust

Today, the Presidio is a national park with corporate and seemingly resort-like interests. “Live in a national park,” says the marketing for its apartments, built by the U.S. Army when it held the site. There are two hotels on site, 11 cafes and restaurants, including a Starbucks. There are also a yoga center and a day spa, a regular gym and a rock-climbing center. Those businesses are dotted among the eight war memorials at the Presidio built over the centuries by the army, the oldest to honor the fallen in the Spanish-American War. Visitors can view the Korean War Memorial, then walk around the corner to the Walt Disney Family Museum’s cafe.

Pelosi’s connections to the Presidio Trust go back to its founding. She introduced the bill in 1994 to establish the trust and shepherded it through Congress to transform it “from post to park,” as Pelosi said in the Chronicle.

Alarms have been raised about the Presidio Trust from the start in San Francisco.

In 1994 and 1995, members of the Preserve the Presidio Campaign testified in Congress about the trust’s organizational structure and questions about its suitability within the National Parks system. It was formed as a “wholly owned government corporation.”

“The National Park Service is planning to change the Presidio, a designated national park, into a business park to be marketed like a shopping mall,” said Joel Ventresca, co-chairman of the campaign. “The NPS wants to abdicate its responsibility and turn the management of the Presidio over to a tax-free publicly unaccountable, publicly subsidized corporation that will operate like a private for-profit redevelopment agency with awesome powers.”

The Presidio Trust, as formed by Pelosi’s bill, turned out to be exactly what Ventresca described. The board is not accountable to San Francisco. In fact, of the seven-member board, six members are appointed by the President of the United States. The seventh member is the Secretary of the Department of the Interior or their representative. Since taking office, President Joe Biden has appointed four new board members.

The trust and the businesses operating within the park are also tax-exempt.

The unsuitability of the Presidio to be a national park was also raised by other members of Congress, who even in 1994 fretted that the Presidio would be just an exclusive playground for San Francisco residents, supported by taxpayers nationwide. “What we’re creating today is a city park for San Francisco paid for by government funds,” said Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, in August 1994.

These days, exclusivity seems to be the Presidio’s draw. When the heiress Ivy Getty married recently, Pelosi officiated her wedding at city hall. Afterwards, reported The Daily Mail, guests who partied too hard had a log cabin available to them at the Presidio National Park, for IV drips.

Quick look: The “Leandro” case and the court-ordered $1.7 billion. Where the money will go.

Superior Court Judge David Lee of Union County issued a historic order on Nov. 10 in the long-running “Leandro” case on inequities in public schools, requiring the state to spend an additional $1.7 billion on education statewide.

From the court order, here’s how the $1.7 billion would be spent:

  • $189.9 million to Department of Health and Human Services
  • $1.5 billion to Department of Public Instruction
  • $41.3 million to UNC system

How do those numbers further break down?

Here is how Every Child NC, the coalition that has been the primary proponent of a Leandro settlement, wants the money to be spent. The coalition actually wants $3.74 billion spent over eight years.

There would be no increase to teachers’ salaries or that of principals, but teachers’ assistants would get additional funding of $20 million in the first year, with that projected to increase to $217.7 million fiscal year 2028.

Assistant principals will not get any money in the first year, but by 2028, funding for them would be increased by $30.9 million.

Transportation? Career and Technical Education teachers and programming support? Small counties? No new funding at all for any of those categories.

The biggest change to funding would be for the category of “disadvantaged students supplemental funding,” which would see a whopping increase of $337.2 million in fiscal year 2022, from $100.8 million to $438 million.

By 2028, that category would see additional funding of $1.5 billion under Leandro.

After that, “limited English proficiency” education would get a boost of $10.3 million in the first year, to ramp up to $226.8 million by 2028.

The category that would be eliminated under Leandro would be “at-risk” students, who will not be funded at all.

Leandro also will create three new categories: Professional Development & Mentoring, Career Development Coordinators, and Community School Coordinator. Together, the three new groups will be funded to the tune of $335.8 million by 2028.

Although “disadvantaged student supplemental funding” was discussed in educational policy in the Aughts, the term is not found anywhere in the “Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan” that was submitted to the court in March.