Thursday •  November 4, 2021

Who is Calling the Shots at the Howard County Education Association (HCEA)? 

 

The Howard County Education Association (HCEA), the official professional organization/union that represents over 5000 HCPSS teachers & staff members, recently announced its intention to protest a community-organized forum entitled “Do Parent Voices Matter? A Forum on Parents’ Voice, Critical Race Theory, and Sexually Explicit Materials in Public Schools”, to be held at Homeslyce Pizza on November 9 at 7:00 PM.

The original HCEA announcement of this protest included very provocative, highly partisan and arguably mischaracterizing language, baselessly branding this event as being led by “a vocal group of anti-public education, anti-BLM activists” who “are clearly feeling buoyed after the Republican in Virginia campaigned using CRT as a political boogeyman.”

 

The announcement went on to baselessly accuse this community group with “seeing Howard County as a staging ground for advancing their anti-educator, anti-public school agenda” and insisted that the HCEA and its members “cannot let them gain a foothold in Howard County, and we must show them that their 1860s ideas are not welcome in 2021 Howard County”.

It is clear that at least one HCEA officer, the current Vice President, knew about this event and approved of the original announcement, going so far as to actively share it publicly on social media (now a “dead link” — the social media post was published in the early evening of November 3, 2021 and then deleted, or at least made private, in the late afternoon of November 4, 2021):

After this protest event was brought to public light on the evening of November 3, 2021, the official event announcement was quietly edited and some of the most controversial language quoted above was removed and no longer available, as of the morning of November 4, 2021:

Then, as strangely as the announcement appeared and was subsequently edited, the announcement disappeared completely from its original publication site during the afternoon of November 4, 2021:

On November 5, 2021, it was reported that the scheduled venue for this forum, Homeslyce Pizza, had officially cancelled the party room reservation that the organizers of the forum had booked, with the following justification explained in an email sent to ScottE’s Blog:

 

“We were blind sided by the nature of the organization, and NEVER would have booked a political event OF ANY TYPE in any of our restaurants. Unknowingly, our manager took the reservation as we have many celebrations in our party room, but NEVER a political meeting of any type.”

“I went on their website just now and informed them that the event is cancelled and they are not welcome to come.”

 

Contrary to the statement above from the venue’s representative, Homeslyce  previously was the venue for at least one prior discussion event co-hosted by the same organizers of this forum, a forum entitled “Jabbing about the COVID Jab: A Discussion on Mandatory Vaccines and Newly-Enacted COVID-19 Policies” in July 2021.  Homeslyce also allowed a Black History Month event hosted by the Howard County Young Republicans to be held at its restaurant in February 2021. 

 

While it is unclear whether HCEA directly pressured the restaurant to make this decision, it is clear that without the HCEA’s planned protest, and particularly without its announcement that mischaracterized the community-organized forum as an “anti-educator, anti-public school” partisan political event, the forum likely would have smoothly been able to proceed at this venue without any issues. 

 

Ironically, with the way that this situation has developed, the now-cancelled HCEA protest has given more legitimacy to one of the main issues that was planned for discussion at this forum: the role & value of parent voice in public education.

 

Without even actually protesting the event, the HCEA managed to bring about the forum’s cancellation at its intended venue, thereby (at least temporarily) suppressing even the very discussion of this issue by a small group of community members, many of whom are likely parents, in a public setting.

According to the HCEA’s official website, the organization “is [its members’] legal representative in collective bargaining and dispute resolution” and “represents [its members] before the Board of Education, on Board committees and with parent and community groups.”

 

How is it within the purview of the HCEA’s mission to protest a well-intentioned, community-organized public forum focused on highlighting the role of parents’ voices in public education & discussing select niche controversial curriculum issues?

 

In what could not have been more perfect timing, a health teacher at Wilde Lake High School testified during the Public Forum of the November 2, 2021 HCPSS Board of Education public meeting to express grave concern about an apparent lack of accountability for both students & educators and to warn about the heavy-handed political influence of a select group of activist educators on HCPSS students:

This particular quote from the testimony above is particularly timely, considering the topic of the forum that the HCEA intends to protest:

 

There are a group of educators in basically every pubic school in America, and Howard County is no exception, where these groups of educators believe that they have the right to politically indoctrinate students in the classroom and it’s time that those educators are held accountable for what they are doing.

 

It’s time for this school board to come forward and let the communities, parents, and most importantly the students — the people who matter the most — know that they deserve a politically neutral education rather than what we currently have in place which is anything but neutral, in my opinion.

 

To be clear, this is not a “conservative is better than liberal” or “liberal is better than conservative” thing. That has nothing to do with any of this. But the public school systems and the educators themselves have absolutely no rights in dictating a students’ political beliefs or ideologies…[testimony ended abruptly before completion due to 3-minute time limit].”

 

The optics of this official HCEA-sponsored protest event — a large Public School Teacher/Staff Member Union publicly protesting a small community-organized forum intended to discuss the role of parents in their children’s public school education and the importance in granting them a meaningful voice — along with the provocative, highly partisan and mischaracterizing nature of the protest event’s original announcement, raises serious concerns about the judgement and motives of the current HCEA leadership.

 

Particular concerns about the HCEA’s scope, influence and leadership are raised by the above testimony shared by a brave HCPSS employee, warning that no accountability currently exists for a “group of [HCPSS] educators that believe that they have the right to politically indoctrinate in the classroom”. 

 

Does the current HCEA leadership and those who most heavily influence them facilitate this alleged lack of accountability for educators that regularly use their classroom attempt to politically indoctrinate HCPSS students?

 

Many more questions remain unanswered about this HCEA protest event, and particularly about their official published announcement for the event:

  • Who authored the original announcement?
  • Was this event vetted & approved by the entire HCEA leadership team?
  • If so, how do they justify the usage of such provocative, arguably mischaracterizing language in an announcement for an event that represents their entire constituency?
  • If not, how was this allowed to be publicly posted as an official HCEA event?
  • Why was the original announcement edited and ultimately deleted entirely? Who removed the particularly provocative original language, and why was it included to begin with?
  • Has the HCEA ever protested a citizen-organized event like this before, and is this even within the scope of its mission?
  • Does the majority of HCEA agree with the highly political stance of this event and the language of the announcement for the event? How many disagree?

 

Perhaps with enough pressure & pushback from the public and from its own organization members, the HCEA will reexamine its scope and will make whatever changes to its leadership, political stances, and public activities are needed to ensure that the organization positively serves & represents all of its constituents and that it consistently contributes to the betterment of the county and public school system as a whole.

 

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