Republican state legislators slam educators working virtually, calling 2020-21 “a wasted year” and “a disaster”

Rep. Craig Horn (l) and Sen. Rick Horner (r)

Two powerful–and outgoing–Republican state legislators slammed the work North Carolina educators are doing to keep learning going during a pandemic at a Tuesday meeting of the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee.

Representative Craig Horn, chair of the House K-12 Education Committee and the Education Appropriations Committee, referred to the pandemic as “a disaster for education.” Senator Rick Horner, chair of the Senate Education Committee and member of the Senate Education Appropriations Committee, called 2020-21 “a wasted year.”

The comments are not sitting well with many North Carolina educators who are working tirelessly to provide students with an engaging learning experience during the most challenging time of their careers.

Michael Landers, a teacher in Cabarrus County, said, “Let’s temper the rhetoric and start something helpful for students and teachers. No one asked to be in this situation and no one chooses to educate in this way; but to have leaders, community members, and parents keep pushing this notion – it continues to undercut the valiant efforts of thousands of teachers each and every day.”

Craig Horn and Rick Horner are both on their way out after years of public service. Horn departs after a failed run for state superintendent, and Horner did not seek reelection after two terms in the Senate.

Both men served in the General Assembly during the Republican supermajority years which were, without question, a disaster for education. Both of them voted time and again for corporate and individual tax cuts which deprived public schools of billions of dollars in sorely-needed revenue. Both of them voted to eliminate retiree health benefits for all state employees hired beginning next month, making it harder to recruit teachers to North Carolina. Both of them have dutifully followed party leadership’s approach of thumbing noses at the Leandro ruling and recent WestEd report which outlined the many ways state legislators have failed to provide the education that is our students’ constitutional right.

Their concern about the state of public education in North Carolina has to be viewed through that lens.

In the case of Craig Horn, who has served a full decade in the House, it’s particularly ironic to hear criticism of online education efforts.

Last year, rather than using his leadership position to call on the General Assembly to commit resources to removing barriers to in-person Pre-K attendance, Horn championed the shockingly bad idea of having 4 year-old children of poverty attend virtual Pre-K. Keep in mind, that was before anyone had even heard of COVID-19.

Nobody asked for a pandemic to disrupt our normal education routines. Nobody is arguing that our students are better served through virtual learning. But the problem is the drumbeat about learning loss and wasted years is being used in an attempt to sway public opinion toward relaxing our guard against COVID at exactly the wrong time–when viral spread is frighteningly high and a vaccine is on the horizon.

North Carolina’s thousands of educators are doing the best they can to teach their students and stay alive right now. They deserve our respect and support.

To Representative Horn and Senator Horner, I say on behalf of those educators:

Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

American Academy of Pediatrics: Child COVID cases have jumped 28% over the last two weeks

According to an American Academy of Pediatrics report released Monday, more than 144,000 new cases of children infected with COVID-19 were reported in the United States last week.

That number constitutes “by far the highest increase since this pandemic began.”

The report notes that as of November 19, nearly 1.2 million children (age 17 and under) have tested positive for the virus in the United States. Those cases represent 11.8% of all cases in the country.

In terms of current trends, AAP found that during the two weeks between November 5 and 19, there was a 28% increase in child COVID-19 cases, with 256,091 new cases during that period.

The report points out that, while severe illness is rare among children, “there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.”

You can read the report in its entirety below:


Can we stop blaming educators for getting COVID?

image by Nan Fulcher

*this article was first published in the Charlotte Observer

As COVID rates skyrocket in North Carolina and more educators lose their lives to the virus, an unmistakable trend is starting to emerge:  school districts falling all over themselves to claim the infected employee didn’t get coronavirus at work.

When Stanly County teacher Julie Davis died last month, superintendent Vicki Calvert quickly issued a statement saying, “there is no information from the local health department indicating Mrs. Davis contracted the COVID-19 virus from any staff member or student on campus.”  

Davis’s family spoke of her extreme vigilance in avoiding situations where infections could occur, wearing a mask whenever out of the house and doing all of her shopping by curbside and drive-through.  She was apprehensive about returning to school because of the increased risk but did so anyway.  

Julie Davis got sick at the end of September and passed away on October 4.  Her brother said Davis was convinced she got the virus at school.  A student who attended the school (not one of hers) had tested positive, and she was unaware of any other time she would have been in the same space with someone who had COVID.

Just a week after Davis passed away, Stanly County Schools was forced to close to in-person instruction due to out-of-control COVID infections in the community and in the schools.

Last Friday a 51 year-old elementary art teacher at a Fayetteville charter school died of COVID.  Her name was Mary Ward.

The school’s superintendent said school officials didn’t believe Ward contracted the virus at work.  However, her daughter said, “We don’t really know [where she got the virus] because she never really went out. She definitely wore her mask, she definitely hand sanitized. She did everything the CDC told us to.”

On Monday, Winston-Salem teacher assistant Teresa Gaither passed away after serving students at Easton Elementary for 23 years.  A school spokesman wouldn’t confirm the cause but was eager to explain that she didn’t get it at work, saying, “At this time, the Forsyth County Department of Public Health has given WS/FCS no indication that Ms. Gaither’s cause of death was related to her employment.”  Her colleagues confirmed that Gaither died of COVID.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, where the district has just begun reporting COVID infections by school, a WBTV report this week said school officials “do not believe students and staff are testing positive because they are back inside the classroom.  They say students are staff and getting sick from circumstances outside of the school.” (typos not mine)

Here’s what public relations-minded school districts are implying when they claim that a COVID infection had nothing to do with school:  Somewhere, somehow that individual made a careless error which led to their illness.  It had nothing to do with insufficient safety protocols, asymptomatic carriers, or a lack of resources.  

There’s nothing to see here, folks.  Mask up and wash your hands, everyone.  Just lean in and we’ll be fine.

Could we please have the decency to admit that, in many of these cases, we have no idea where they got it?  While it is possible these educators contracted the virus outside of school, it’s just as likely that they didn’t.  We simply don’t know.

What we do know about this virus is that the only way to truly stay safe from it is to avoid crowded public places, perform regular disinfection and ensure proper ventilation and clean air flow when we must share space with others.  Those conditions are hard to come by in a public school.

These educators who have lost their lives during the pandemic have been forced to choose between increasing their risk of infection by returning to in-person instruction and not being able to feed their kids or pay their mortgage.

Many of our educators have been vocal in calling for a return to school only when we can be reasonably certain it’s safe, with maximum social distancing, effective contact tracing, safe HVAC systems and sufficient staff.  In far too many cases they’ve been forced back to the classrooms they love with none of those things.

In light of their dedication to serving our children despite a raging pandemic, it’s the least we can do to stop blaming our educators for getting COVID

You can’t be neutral on a moving train–an educator’s thoughts on North Carolina’s election

Watching Tuesday night’s election results roll in real time was an excruciating experience for North Carolina educators.

After a long, pandemic-style campaign season where education advocates worked so hard to influence outcomes on behalf of public schools, we were filled with hope that we were on the brink of big change. Some of us believed that we were about to take back one or both chambers of the General Assembly and the superintendency. I entertained the notion that I would wake up on Wednesday to a new reality with people in key positions of power who share the view that strong public schools are the foundation of a democratic society, people who want to partner with teachers to create policies that lead to better outcomes for our kids.

Early votes showed up first and gave cause for optimism. Then in-person votes began to be tallied, and the long, slow, inevitable burn that we’ve become so accustomed to in North Carolina set in. That feeling that the tide is coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

By the end of the night here’s what the political landscape looked like for public education:

*Our next state superintendent will be Catherine Truitt, an individual with a clear pro-charter and privatization agenda who has a history of disparaging education advocates and throwing stones at NCAE.

*Our lieutenant governor is going to be Mark Robinson, a homophobic conspiracy theorist who doesn’t believe systemic racism exists and who makes Dan Forest look almost reasonable.

*Dan Folwell stays on as treasurer. He’s got a history of playing reckless games with state employee health care and a troubling lack of empathy.

*Republicans will retain their majorities in both the House and Senate, and it’s likely that Phil Berger will stay as the leader of the Senate and continue to unilaterally block any real progress on education policy issues.

I’m going to be honest–my initial reaction on Wednesday morning was to question all the time and effort we put into this election. The endless hours of researching and writing, phone banking and working the polls, just to end up at the same point where we were started.

Then I started my teaching day, and I was immediately reminded of my “why.”

I looked into the faces of my students and thought about their many needs which are going largely unmet by a system that cares more about stuffing money into the pockets of corporations than giving them the high quality education their constitution demands.

The truth is, we do have some things to be grateful for. We re-elected Roy Cooper and not Dan Forest, who had vowed to immediately lift mask requirements and push everyone back into school at a time when COVID infections are dangerously high. Republicans didn’t take back the super majority, which means Cooper still holds veto power over troublesome legislation. It’s not the disaster we were experiencing five years ago in this state when Pat McCrory was governor and legislators could do whatever they wanted.

Howard Zinn famously remarked “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” And as we enter the next chapter of North Carolina’s history with Phil Berger still wearing the conductor’s hat, those of us who have dedicated our lives to serving children in public school have a choice. We can just sit down in exhaustion and defeat and let it play out.

Or we can lean on each other, roll up our sleeves, and continue to fight for the schools we all deserve.

NC superintendent candidate Catherine Truitt gets max donation from millionaire who calls educators “criminals…who feed poison to students”

As the race for NC state superintendent enters its final week, Republican Catherine Truitt has just received the maximum donation from a source that is sure to raise eyebrows among supporters of traditional public schools:

Robert Luddy is a North Carolina millionaire who has founded a string of private and charter schools in the state.

His charter school Franklin Academy made news a couple of years back when complaints were lodged over language in its student handbook that read “promotion, affirmation or discussion of behaviors associated with the terms, ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity,’ including homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism, are expressly prohibited.”

Luddy has been quoted as saying that public schools are failing, and in a piece he wrote for the conservative publication American Spectator last month he said the problem is that “the U.S. education system has been coopted by Marxists who hate America”:

The last 20 years have ushered in a new America, which is moving away from God and traditional American values and replaced by an ever-growing government at all levels, squeezing out private initiative, a core strength of our country. Worse, the U.S. education system has been coopted by Marxists who hate America. They teach our children that America is an evil country based on racism and white supremacy. The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a shameful work of historical revisionism that insists that America was built on slavery, is now taught in schools across the country.

To paraphase G. K. Chesterton: the greatest criminals are educators who feed poison to students.

I have a feeling the thousands of North Carolina educators who have dedicated their lives to lifting our children up and providing them with opportunities would disagree with that characterization.

You know, the people that Truitt wants to lead.

Voters can help move NC out of the education Dark Ages

Tim Moore and Phil Berger, chief architects of the current NC public schools Dark Age

*note: this piece was originally published in the Charlotte Observer

When Tea Party Republicans took over state government in 2010, their veto-proof majority in both chambers of our General Assembly began an education policy Dark Age, churning out bill after bill that harmed our schools.

Legislators removed the cap on charter schools, and their number has since doubled.  These schools siphon money away from traditional public schools and increase racial and economic segregation, and they have failed to provide better alternatives for students who need the most help.

They cut master’s pay, making North Carolina the first state in the country to revoke advanced degree salary increases.

They slashed funding for teachers assistants.  We’ve lost 7,500 since the peak a decade ago.

Legislators created the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program, sending tens of millions of dollars each year to unaccountable schools which are legally able to discriminate based on factors like religion and sexual orientation.

They defunded the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program, a high-quality source of committed, homegrown teachers.  

Lawmakers have blocked school construction bonds from ballots, despite favorable financial conditions and a documented $8+ billion in infrastructure needs.

They passed the Read to Achieve law, expanding testing and threatening 3rd graders with retention in an ill-advised attempt at addressing reading deficiencies.  When that didn’t work, legislators added bonuses for test scores which harm morale by ignoring the contributions many members of the team have to a child’s success.  Unsurprisingly, reading outcomes have not improved.

They stripped retiree health benefits starting January 2021, making it harder to recruit and retain good teachers in North Carolina at a time when enrollment in our state’s teacher preparation programs has plummeted 35% since 2013.

But arguably the most impactful change of all has been Republican tax policy.  

Over the past decade, state legislators have passed 6 corporate tax cuts and repeatedly cut income taxes in a manner that disproportionately benefits the wealthiest among us.  According to the NC Budget and Tax Center’s Alexandra Sirota, the estimated cumulative revenue loss during that time is $12 billion.  Those are dollars which could have hired teaching assistants or repaired leaky gym roofs.

Throughout the course of this Dark Age, one of the biggest overall failures of the Republican majority has been its approach to the process of governing.  Many of the aforementioned laws were passed in budget bills, meaning they didn’t go through a deliberative committee process but rather were written behind closed doors and then passed without any opportunity for meaningful conversations.  That’s not how effective policy is written, and it’s not the kind of government the people of North Carolina deserve.

When Governor Cooper was elected in 2016 and then the legislative supermajority was broken in 2018, I held out some naive hope that things might change and that there could be a new willingness on the part of House and Senate Republicans to work across the aisle because of the governor’s veto power.

Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out that way at all.  The fact that we’re still operating on the 2018 budget is clear evidence:  the toxic culture that developed under the supermajority, one in which loyalty to party trumps any desire for meaningful collaboration on behalf of North Carolinians, has continued unabated.  

A full decade of backwards priorities and terrible leadership has led to this crucial election at a time when our schools are desperate for change.  We need people in power who see public education as a human right and not a commodity.  We need leaders who truly believe that our children deserve the opportunities that a high quality public education can provide.  

Breaking the majorities in the House and the Senate will allow pro-public education legislators to end North Carolina’s education Dark Age and get to work building the K-12 education system we need.

Strings attached? Superintendent candidate Catherine Truitt’s campaign donations point to for-profit charter schools and EVAAS

If you want to know what a political candidate will stand for, just look at where their support is coming from.

State superintendent candidate Catherine Truitt was happy to accept some recent high profile support from President Donald Trump in the form of a shout out at his campaign rally in Greenville:

But while rubbing elbows with a serial misogynist and pathological liar isn’t a great look for someone who wants to lead K-12 schools, it’s Truitt’s campaign donations that might give some crucial insight into what her priorities will be for North Carolina if she wins.

Interestingly, 25% of Truitt’s donations have come from out of state, while 98% of her opponent Jen Mangrum’s donations are from North Carolinians.

Truitt’s top four donors (after herself) are here:

All of them have donated the maximum allowed under law, and their donations comprise just under half of her total campaign haul.

James Goodnight is the richest person in North Carolina and CEO of SAS, the company that produces EVAAS. For the uninitiated, EVAAS is a software system which uses standardized test scores to measure “teacher effectiveness.”

SAS has a contract with North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to provide that data which state legislators have used for the controversial school report cards and to offer cash bonuses to teachers in exchange for high test scores.

EVAAS is deeply unpopular among many North Carolina teachers who believe it’s ludicrous to focus solely on standardized test scores to measure the ways a teacher adds value to a student’s learning.

Ann Goodnight is James’s wife and director of Community Relations for SAS. She serves on the board of Best NC, a pro-business education reform organization which successfully lobbied for North Carolina’s current principal pay plan.

That pay plan–which uses EVAAS data to determine compensation–was so poorly conceived that the legislature had to pass a hold harmless clause to prevent a massive exodus of North Carolina principals as salaries could have dropped up to $20,000.

Goodnight also serves on the board of Cary Academy, a private school she founded with her husband which charges tuition of more than $25,000.

Jonathan Hage is founder and CEO of Florida-based Charter Schools USA, a for-profit “education management organization” with annual revenue of $750 million.

Charter Schools USA currently operates 7 charter schools in North Carolina, and it’s safe to assume Hage would like that number to go up.

Sherry Hage is married to Jonathan Hage and, until recently, served as Chief Academic Officer for Charter Schools USA. She is now CEO of Noble Education Initiative, a charter school management company which is headquartered right down the street from Charter Schools USA in Ft. Lauderdale.

Catherine Truitt’s principal donors are individuals who embrace the philosophy that education is a commodity that can be bought and sold. Those twisted values have filled their bank accounts with riches that most of us can’t even imagine, and they apparently see Truitt as their pathway to even larger piles of money.

Truitt’s opponent, Jennifer Mangrum, is a longtime elementary school teacher and current professor of education at UNC-Greensboro. Mangrum believes that education is a human right, not a commodity. She believes in strong traditional public schools and will not be bought by charter school magnates or software billionaires.

Those are the values we need leading North Carolina’s K-12 public schools.

“They’re not advocating for students.” Republican candidate for superintendent bashes NCAE

In a recent endorsement interview with the Observer’s Editorial Board, Republican candidate for state superintendent Catherine Truitt did not hold back on her disdain for North Carolina’s largest professional organization for educators.

During her unsuccessful bid for the Observer’s endorsement, Truitt falsely accused NCAE of excluding her from its own endorsement process and said “They’re not advocating for students.”

Truitt’s entire interview video is posted below, as is a transcript of her thoughts on NCAE. Those comments begin at the 16:19 mark.

Ned Barnett (Associate Editor): The favorite target of legislative Republicans is the North Carolina Association of Educators, who they sort of demonize as this union, and they sort of pass up no opportunity to go after.  Is it a healthy thing really to have an arrangement where this is a group that represents teachers and educators in the state, and just make them the enemy and have it be at loggerheads like that?  Or can you do anything to sort of ask them to talk with NCAE?

Catherine Truitt: I’m gonna have to disagree with the premise of your question there, respectfully.  So, I’ve had countless teachers reach out to me and say “This is not the same NCAE that I worked with 10, 15 years ago.”  This NCAE has been very vocal with the N & O in an interview last year that their plan is to move the organization towards union status, which is illegal in North Carolina.  Their Executive Director, who is not an educator, is an attorney from Ohio who was brought here to bring about collective bargaining which, again, is illegal in North Carolina.*  I don’t believe that… I think that the NCAE plays a valuable role for some teachers, providing fellowship and support their members.  We don’t even know what their real membership is because they’re not honest about their numbers with Auditor Wood.  And this group has an agenda which is not necessarily student centered.  Their agenda comes from Washington D.C.  It is a political agenda that represents one side of the aisle over another.  And I’m not denying that Republicans go after the NCAE, but it is certainly two-sided.  

I was not offered an interview with the NCAE for their endorsement. 

Ned Barnett: Did you request one?

Catherine Truitt: I should not have to.  I reached out to them to let them know that I have not re-… requested…  The candidate doesn’t request an interview.  I wasn’t even aware of how this process worked, because I’m a new candidate.  And so, when I did reach out to the NCAE and asked for them to prove that they had offered me this opportunity, they could not do so.  They claimed they had sent things to me in email.  And they could not produce an email that was sent to me to set up an appointment to receive an interview.  

Ned Barnett: So I take it that your answer is yes, that the contentious relationship would continue between the superintendent and the association of educators.

Catherine Truitt: What I would say is that I will always, as I did when I was Governor McCrory’s education advisor, I never turned down a meeting.  I am always willing to meet with the NCAE, and I would love for them to be in the room and have a role.  It’s up to them if they want to advocate for students.  They’re not advocating for students right now. 

Truitt’s unoriginal line about NCAE being a political front organization and not advocating for children is a tired, defensive talking point often parroted by state lawmakers who don’t like being criticized for a decade of terrible education policy.

But what’s this about being excluded from NCAE’s endorsement process?

Truitt first made this claim in a telephone call I had with her last spring at her request. During that lengthy conversation, Truitt told me NCAE was a partisan organization and, as evidence, said she hadn’t been given an opportunity to participate in an endorsement interview, insinuating that the organization would only consider endorsing Democratic candidates.

I told her I’d check into that for her, and as soon as we hung up the phone I contacted the folks at NCAE who handle endorsements.

Marge Foreman, NCAE’s Government Relations specialist, explained to me that contact information for candidates is taken from their official filing on the Board of Elections website and contact is made by email only if an email address is available. Candidate questionnaires are sent to every candidate for statewide office by snail mail, regardless of party affiliation.

Foreman said the next step is for candidates to respond to the questionnaire to indicate their interest in participating. For those who choose not to respond, that’s the end of the process.

Foreman was able to provide me with a screenshot of the actual mailing label that had been used to send Truitt’s questionnaire to the PO Box on her candidate filing:

Truitt was absolutely sent an NCAE candidate questionnaire but never filled out and returned it.

I immediately reached out to Catherine Truitt to try to clear up her confusion:

Truitt never responded to my email.

It’s disappointing that, as a candidate for statewide office, Catherine Truitt is continuing to peddle this false narrative in support of her claims that NCAE is a partisan organization, especially after I took the time to investigate and clarify a process that she herself admits she didn’t understand.

Apparently the truth didn’t fit Truitt’s narrative.

As for the Observer’s endorsement process, the Editorial Board just announced its support of Truitt’s opponent, Democrat Jennifer Mangrum. The Observer was uncomfortable with how Truitt aligned herself with Republican lawmakers on core issues and noted that Mangrum “separates herself from Truitt with her strong advocacy for public schools and teachers.”

*note: NCAE’s Executive Director is John Wilson, who was born in Burlington, NC and received education degrees from Western Carolina and UNC-Chapel Hill. He was a long time Exceptional Children teacher.

Cabarrus educators holding Monday “Rally to End the Word” in wake of offensive comments by school board member

During last Monday’s board meeting, Cabarrus County Board of Education member Laura Blackwell was caught on Zoom saying “This is the most retarded thing I’ve ever seen.

The comment was made privately to Board Chair Rob Walter, who ignored the use of an appalling term educators have spent decades trying to remove from the educational setting and instead agreed with Blackwell’s criticism of remote instruction during the pandemic.

Blackwell also referred to the board’s vice chair as a “douchebag.”

The board has called a special meeting for today beginning at 5 pm (closed session at 5, open session at 6).

The meeting’s agenda includes a discussion about “appropriate and inappropriate board member speech” and has the Code of Ethics for School Board Members attached:


The policy requires that board members “model civility to students, employees and all elements of the community by encouraging the free expression of opinion by all board members and engaging in respectful dialogue with fellow board members on matters being considered by the board.”

At 4 pm, the Cabarrus Association of Educators is holding a “Rally to End the Word” outside the Cabarrus County Education Center (4401 Old Airport Rd. Concord, NC 28026). Overflow parking will be available at the nearby Cabarrus Arena.

Cabarrus Association of Educators has released the following statement about the matter:

Educators have learned to conduct themselves as professionals, even outside of the classroom, knowing that the eyes of the community are always upon them.   We have the right to expect a similar high standard from our elected officials especially during a professional meeting.  

The lack of decorum demonstrated at several board meetings and the inappropriate language used shows an utter disregard for the position held, the opinions of others and the community represented.  Trust has been broken between the community and the board of education.  Serious steps need to be taken in order to restore that trust.  

Michelle Rengert
President – Cabarrus Association of Educators

Cabarrus school board member apologizes for using R word during meeting, credits her “immense passion for the welfare of our children”

Cabarrus County school board member Laura Blackwell is facing mounting criticism for her use of the R word during Monday’s meeting of the Board of Education:

Blackwell posted an apology for the comment, which she made about the district’s reopening plans to board chair Rob Walter when she didn’t realize the Zoom meeting was still being broadcast to listeners.

In her apology, Blackwell attributed her use of the degrading term to her “immense passion for the welfare of our children and for serving this community,” then quickly pivoted to victim mode:

I want to take this opportunity to address the very unfortunate incident that took place at last night’s school board meeting. During one of the breaks, my microphone remained on and comments that were made in private suddenly became very public. Whether in private or public, I acknowledge my comments were insensitive and inappropriate. I allowed my immense passion for the welfare of our children and for serving this community to manifest itself through emotion and frustration. Although I never intended to offend anyone, I do realize that my words had the potential to cause pain and reinforce a negative stereotype. I deeply regret my choice of words and I sincerely apologize to anyone that I may have offended.

The last 12 hours have been some of the most difficult of my life. I have received messages that have both questioned my integrity and my character. However, not to be overshadowed by hatred and political posturing, there has been an overwhelming amount of loving support from so many of you that know my heart and believe in the work that we are trying to accomplish together. Because of each of you, tomorrow morning I will dust myself off and get right back to serving this community, our students, our amazing faculty and staff members and this county with the same level of passion as I had on day one.

In response to Blackwell’s offensive speech, the Special Olympics of Cabarrus County released a statement that noted the harm caused by stereotyping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities:

Many listeners have noted that Chair Rob Walter agreed with the essence of Blackwell’s comments and did not offer any pushback whatsoever on her use of a word that educators have worked hard to erase from educational settings.

Walter, who is currently running for reelection, has said the board will review the incident and related policies and will deal with the matter at the next school board meeting if any further action is required.

That meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 5.