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Opposing U-46 views foster dueling petitions


By Seth Hancock
  “Diversity of opinions and the ability to discuss them respectfully is a hallmark of this great nation and should be of U-46,” said Jeanette Ward, member of the Board of Education in School District U-46.
  That’s a lesson some students in U-46 are not getting as a group calling itself Students for the Improvement of District U-46 are circulating a petition on change.org asking Ward to resign for her “embarrassing” views.
  “We believe that it would be in the best interest of District U-46 that Mrs. Ward step down from her post and stop tarnishing the district with her biased viewpoints,” the petition states.
  In response, a petition by a group calling itself Americans for Free Speech in Education was created supporting Ward. As of Sunday, May 8 the petition in support of Ward had 450 signatures compared to 350 for the one opposing her.
  “To call for Ward’s resignation is equivalent to silencing her voice and those of thousands of U-46 voters who elected her to represent them, which is a form of totalitarianism and intolerance that must be opposed,” the petition supporting Ward stated.
  Ward along with board members Cody Holt and Phil Costello ran on the same ticket and were sworn into office a little over a year ago. Since then, the administration’s agenda has received more no votes than in previous years when unanimous approval with little questioning was the norm, but the administration still receives majority support from the board.
  Curriculum has been a key issue for Ward since she has taken her seat, and most recently she opposed the resources on a high school social studies electives proposal for “an overarching and pervasive politically left bias.” That proposal was approved with a 5-2 vote, Holt also voting no.
  Those supportive of the resources did not refute Ward’s litany of examples she gave to support her claim of them being one-sided and biased with one colleague, Traci Ellis, claiming Ward was advocating censorship despite Ward saying she wants both sides presented.
  The petition opposed to Ward states: “Her views on minorities, the LGBTQ community, and public education as a whole are extreme, offensive, and detrimental to U-46 and the public school system. We cannot stand for someone who does not believe in global warming as a scientific fact, refutes globalization, denies discrimination, and views the United States as the Paragon of Perfection.”
  Ward spoke to The Examiner to respond to the petition, and she has no plans of leaving.
  “My plan is to continue serving until 2019 like I’ve been elected to do,” Ward said. “Free speech applies to me as it does to them.”
  Ward added: “When I was running for office I was very clear on what my beliefs are. While I serve in office, I’m very clear on what my beliefs are and that’s what they object to. So just like they have the free speech to disagree with me and circulate a petition to say they want me removed, I will continue to serve and utilize my free speech rights.”
  On the issues, the petition fails to grasp what Ward has said on the board as it appears to put words into her mouth.
  On globalization, Ward has not refuted globalization and said: “We are a global economy, but we’re not a global society. We’re not global citizens. We belong to the United States of America. We’re U.S. citizens. Just like citizens of Brazil are citizens of Brazil. There’s not global [citizenship]. Thank God, at least not yet, there isn’t one global world leader.”
  Ward has not denied that discrimination exists, but she said too often it is used “as an excuse for not succeeding. Individuals should stand up against a bully who judges a person on their skin color for example, not government.”
  On the claim she believes America is “the Paragon of Perfection,” Ward said: “Of course I don’t believe the U.S. is perfect, but it has brought more prosperity and peace to more people than any other country in the whole world, in the history of the world.”
  The petition uses the term “global warming,” but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the climate has been in a cooling trend over the last decade. As such, Ward was asked about “climate change” and man’s effect on it.
  “I don’t believe that man has any effect on climate,” Ward said. “We can’t even predict the weather tomorrow let alone predict what the whole world is going to do… You can’t get an unbiased opinion because scientists have been caught cooking their data.”
  As the petition calls Ward biased, ignorant and hypocritical several of the signees called her a bigot.
  Ward stated the obvious that “everyone has biases and opinions,” and she’s calling for all sides to be presented.
  “Obviously they have opinions, and they are free to express them,” Ward said. “But they’re not free to expel me from office just because I hold a different opinion, and I will not be muzzled either.”
  On the one-sided resources, Ward said that if they are flawed then it makes the job of teachers even harder.
  Ward added: “I’m voting on the resources. So if I think the resources are flawed, I’m going to explain and vote no.”
  The comments on the petition include one commenter calling Ward a bigot then writing that “people like this do not belong in today’s world.” Former board members Jennifer Shroder and Maria Bidelman signed the petition with Bidelman writing “our students, teachers and community deserve someone that will support all of them.”
  Shroder lost her reelection bid last spring and garnered over 2,000 fewer votes than Ward, and both she and Bidelman opposed charter schools and supported adding debt in contrast to what appeared to be the overwhelming interests of the public. 
  A Facebook group that was created during the last election with the purpose of ridiculing the candidacies and supporters of Costello, Holt and Ward equated signers of the petition supporting Ward to the KKK posting that they’re showing “the world who you are - even when your white hoods… are at the cleaners.”
  Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines bigot as “a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.” Who are the bigots, those saying all sides should be presented or those ridiculing those they disagree with?

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