by: Jack Hilligoss, Lead Pastor at HighPoint Church & Board Member of CCDF, County Citizens Defending Freedom. www.CCDFusa.com
The majority of Floridians rejoiced this week when Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order setting an end date for a myriad of medically unnecessary, politically motivated, emergency ordinances/restrictions which have been imposed upon them during the COVID pandemic. However, the celebration of parents of students attending Polk County Schools was cut short when it came to light the Governor’s order would not bring an end to the most ridiculous and egregious mandate forcing students to wear a mask every day in school.
The two explanations for this, as shared in a memo from Wes Bridges, Polk County School Board’s legal counsel, were the that the order did not take effect until July 1, 2021 well after the end of this school year, and that “the Polk County School Board did not enact any emergency ordinances due to the COVID 19 emergency.”
This was confusing to parents who have watched their children be temperature checked, learn from behind plexiglass barriers, remain physically distant, and be forced to submit to wearing a mask to school every day. None of these things were a part of school life prior to COVID 19. The logical assumption was these actions were all taken as short-term, emergency, measures to protect students and teachers. They were necessary and temporary. This is the reason we all went along for a time, even if we were dubious.
Mr. Bridges memo went on to explain, “Emergency orders and ordinances are those enacted using emergency powers vested in political subdivisions of the state, instead of their regular, statutory policy-making processes. In Polk County, the policies regarding face coverings were adopted through regular enactment procedures. They are not emergency orders or ordinances.”
What all that legalese boils down is the School Board took action during its July 14, 2020 meeting to adopt mandatory face masks as a part of Polk County Schools Student Code of Conduct. In other words, your child being forced to wear a face mask to school is now a permanent policy of Polk County Schools and not an emergency order. This allows the school board to skirt compliance with the governor’s order.
Only one member of the School Board, Sarah Beth Reynolds, had the wisdom to confront the obvious overreach of responding to a temporary situation with such a drastic, permanent, policy decision. She also exercised the courage to vote against adopting the policy. It should also be noted that William Allen was not yet a member of the board when this decision was made. He replaced Billy Townsend who supported the measure. But what about the other members? Why would they support such a decision?
No matter how hard one works to see this in its best light, at best this was a bad decision. At worst it was a calculated one.
It is possible the decision was made carelessly. Maybe board members didn’t pay close enough attention or think carefully through the long-term ramifications of the choice they were making.
Perhaps they fell prey to “expert syndrome” which dominates so much decision making and is especially infectious in the academic world. The tendency to surrender our common-sense and subjugate our own intelligence to the directives of a person who purportedly knows what’s best for all of us. During the July 14 meeting, the board listened to the advice of a Dr. Alexander. Dr. Alexander admitted there is no evidence school-aged children are effective transmitters of the COVID virus, and yet, still urged the board to adopt this ill-advised policy.
In a chilling foreshadowing of what such submission to “experts” can, and almost inevitably does lead to, Dr. Alexander also advised the Board to consider enforcing mandatory vaccinations in the future.
Directives like these are the reason we ought to be reluctant to surrender our decision making to supposed “experts”. Often experts are people who have learned complicated ways to make temporary problems into permanently bad policies. At worst, experts are hired guns of a politician or government organization used to leverage expansion of control under false premises.
Which leads to the third possible explanation for this board action.
It was enacted to codify control. It was done to satisfy the wishes of some other entity with power and influence over our school system. This is the most chilling possibility of all for several reasons of which I will share a few.
First, it displays a complete lack of respect for parents of Polk County Schools.
Second, it reveals a paternalistic mind set which is so endemic, especially in the educational field.
Third, it lays the groundwork for an exponential increase in government invasiveness into parental/family authority and autonomy.
None of these realities can be dismissed with the patronizing appeal that the school board makes alternative sources of access to education available to families who do not wish to submit to their arbitrary mandates. No matter how placating the words, the reasoning boils down to this: “We know what’s best, we make the decisions, we are afraid, so even though your tax dollars provide all the salaries and infrastructure of the county’s education, if you want equal access you have to submit to our decisions. Otherwise, we will deal with you by providing a place for you to learn where you don’t get in the way.”
Now, I do not believe all the School Board Members hold these opinions consciously. In fact, I am under the impression they are well intentioned citizens who are trying to do their best. However, that belief only reinforces the fear that our leadership is too willing to submit to an elitist mindset in service of those objectives and they do not give greater weight to the effect and impression their decisions have upon their primary constituents-the families who send their children to Polk County Schools.
Appeals for acceptance have been made based upon to the fact that this school year is nearly at an end so we should just be patient and let the board make adjustments for next year.
That could be well and good except our board made this a permanent policy. What assurance do we have now they won’t simply continue to enforce it as they see fit? The board’s own action turned this into an issue we cannot be patient with. Dr. Alexander’s expertise heavily influenced their decision and that only increases apprehension for next year when we remember that he also promoted mandatory vaccinations.
What we must consider is, behind the appearance of concern and benevolence, even if that is sincere, is a philosophy and agenda of establishing life-style choices on the behalf of the rest of the population. It is the argument behind all collectivist thinking, “We know what is best for you, please be quiet and go along.”
We simply cannot accept it any longer. So, what can we do about this ill-advised action of the school board?
First, we can appeal to them in mass to show the humility to admit they made a mistake and repeal the policy decision at their May 11 meeting. Their work session is at noon with the official meeting at 5:00 PM. You can be at both. You are allowed to speak for up to three minutes at the evening session. For more information check out this page on Social Media-https://www.facebook.com/groups/188632366198274
Second, we can appeal to Governor DeSantis to take executive action to make these policies null and void.-https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/05/04/fflorida-state-rep-asks-desantis-to-end-cruel-and-misguided-mask-mandate-in-schools/?fbclid=IwAR2aDQ7zZvSI1abmUXnVi0J3i7IEV2RbLi_rNtLAWGue7pvKXQts4kR51eo
Third, if Board Members are unwilling to listen to reason, we can work to mount a recall effort against those who refuse to represent their constituency and instead bow to special interest agendas and supposed “expert” opinion.
Fourth, we can certainly vote them out. Remain vigilant. Many actions are taken by the board and staff of Polk County Schools that have direct impact on your child. Some of them conflict with the desires you have for your children and have nothing to do with the legitimate goal of educating your child. Rather they are ideologies insinuated into the system under the guise of education. County Citizens Defending Freedom- https://www.lllaction.com- will be working diligently to make you aware of all these so that you are better equipped to take action at the ballot box.