“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”*
— Elie Wiesel, Night (1986)
As one of just a handful of Jewish students in my Jersey hometown, I grew up keenly aware of my “otherness.” Despite the pride I felt in my culture and family history, there were many times I felt deeply misunderstood and marginalized by my peers. This experience has undeniably shaped who I am as a person and informs the way I interact with the world to this day.
My search for support and acceptance within my school community instilled in me the importance of empathy, the value of being empowered to speak up in times of injustice, and the necessity of holding those in power accountable for their words and actions. These are the values that have brought me into the fight to take back the Central Bucks School Board.
I am currently running to unseat the current CBSD School Board President Dana Hunter, who has led the charge the last four years and is best known for her divisive policies. Hunter and her majority on the board have made great strides to bring their ideals into our schools under the guise of “parental rights.”
Their actions over the past two years led Dana Hunter and her allies on the board to spend $1.2 million defending their political agenda, over $114,000 on a PR firm to clean up the district’s image, and an additional $90,000/year (40%) salary increase to protect their complicit rookie superintendent.
Beyond leading to this egregious waste of our tax dollars, the board’s continued effort to push extremely partisan policies is a dangerous distraction from the very real needs of our students — including staffing and teacher shortages, an unprecedented mental health crisis, plummeting test scores, and pandemic-related learning loss.
School board directors are public servants who should be first and foremost dedicated to providing the best public education possible for each and every child in our district. School districts — under state and federal law — are responsible for ensuring that race, ethnicity, gender, class, and disability do not limit any student’s ability to access and benefit from district programs. Addressing and working to eliminate barriers to opportunity that our students may face is essential to meeting this responsibility.
The current Central Bucks School Board majority has not only failed to meet this responsibility, but has actively worked to increase barriers, censor our teachers, and infringe on our students’ freedom to learn.
I entered this race confident that our community wants the very best education for every student. No matter our politics, race, ethnicity, class or religion, we all want our children to have the opportunities we did not, to know more than we did, and do better than we did. We all want our kids to be respected and valued, and to give the same in return. We want our kids to be successful and happy. But when authoritarian politicians and extremists interfere with our children’s education — censoring teachers and removing books that offer new perspectives — they are depriving our kids of their essential American freedoms.
School is the place where children develop their understanding of the world and their ability to make meaningful change in it. Our children deserve an inclusive education that fosters critical thinking, imparts honesty about our shared history, encourages empathy towards one another, and cultivates the courage to stand up for truth and justice.
We must come together in this moment to reject the divisiveness brought on by our current board. It’s time to elect leaders who will fight to ensure our schools have the resources to meet every child’s needs — with well-trained and empowered teachers, a curriculum that facilitates an accurate and empathetic understanding of the world, and safe and inclusive learning environments that fully embrace the identity of every single one of our students.
Local elections have very real consequences, and the incredible importance of this election cycle to the future of our community cannot be overstated. If we do not take action now to change course, to defend our public education system and our children’s freedom to learn, we will find Central Bucks on the wrong side of history. By coming together to take back the reins from Dana Hunter and her allies, we can restore compassion and inclusivity in our schools and make Central Bucks a place where every student can learn, grow and thrive.
I’d be honored to have you join me in this fight: www.electheatherreynolds.com/get-involved.
*This quote, displayed in the Central Bucks South HS library for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was ordered to be removed for violating the district’s new “advocacy” policy.
Heather Reynolds is running for Central Bucks School Board in Region 2.
Editor’s Note: The Elie Wiesel quote was later put back and the district apologized.