Central Bucks is filled with wonderful, thoughtful people. We’re the kind of community where we really care about each other, where we know our neighbors and are kind and try to lend a helping hand when we can. So a lot of us are understandably fed up with the divisive politics of the current majority on the Central Bucks School Board.
In the Nov. 7 election, we can stand up for common sense and compassion — the values that our community holds so dear.
I’ve seen the current school board majority’s wasteful extremism first-hand. I am a current member of the Central Bucks School Board minority, but was originally elected as a Republican. Not that it really mattered then. Our school board has historically been extremely nonpartisan and civil until extremists won their seats in 2021; we have been battling their destructive and divisive policies ever since.
Even though there was already a library policy in place allowing parents to restrict access to any books they didn’t want their own children to read, the current majority allowed a small handful of parents to challenge what books your own kids can or can’t read. It also passed a policy disallowing teachers to express support for LGBTQ students. I switched parties because I couldn’t be associated with the actions of the Republican board majority.
Its extremist policies are illegal. That’s why the ACLU and Department of Education Office of Civil Rights have both filed complaints, leading the majority on the school board to spend $1.2 million in taxpayer money hiring crisis PR firms and conservative lawyers to try to defend the indefensible. But as long as these policies remain in effect, the expensive lawsuits and bad press will keep coming.
Who pays the price? Our students. They need the school board to prioritize mental health and learning loss, spending that money on fixing our district’s historic staffing shortage. But the sad fact is, this school board majority is backed by the very same extremists pushing to defund public schools in our state and nationwide. They’re not just destroying our great public schools. They’re also destroying our property values, since our public schools are what make Central Bucks such a desirable place to live.
All views deserve a seat at the table. The problem is that currently, in our very politically diverse community — one of the “purplest” places in America — those extremist viewpoints are the only ones the current school board allows. The current school board minority is not even allowed to put topics on the agenda and is often not informed by the majority about basic decisions.
Recently, the majority decided to give a new contract with a 40% raise to the superintendent. Those of us in the school board minority found out about the contract when the agenda was released instead of being part of the process.
We should have a school board that respects all community members and viewpoints, just like we should have a school board that respects all students equally. At its core, the Nov. 7 Central Bucks School Board election isn’t about Democrats versus Republicans, left vs. right or liberal vs. conservative. It’s about right versus wrong.
Treating all students with respect and equal dignity, no matter who they are, is the right thing to do. Having a school board that listens to and represents the full range of our community’s opinions, and not just extremists, is the right thing to do. And focusing on solving the real problems facing our students and schools, rather than wasteful distractions that divide our community, is the right thing to do, too.
Please vote for me and the other Neighbors United candidates on Nov. 7 and restore compassion and common sense to Central Bucks.
Karen Smith is a Central Bucks School District School Board Director in Region 1.