After a July 21, unanimous vote to adopt a hotly debated social studies curriculum in the TVUSD elementary school district, TVUSD Board President Dr. Komrosky made a personal statement in response to Governor Newsom’s public attacks, saying, “We never stopped working at our local level despite the ongoing threats from Sacramento. We never stopped caring about the welfare of our children. We never stopped standing up for our values. The way the Governor sought to insert himself into our local government violates every notion of what our State stands for when it comes to the integrity of local control and governance. We did our job while the Governor played games with our community and our kids.”
The TVUSD board unanimously voted to adopt TCI Social Studies Alive! elementary social studies curriculum that had been rejected twice before after a compromise to remove one controversial supplemental section for review. The carefully worded motion was made by Dr. Komrosky, part of the school board’s conservative majority, at a cost reported to be $1.6 million.
In addition to a packed crowd, over 880 people were watching online throughout the entire 3 ½ hour special meeting. Board president Dr. Komrosky reminded the crowd several times that they had to be quiet and respectful so that speakers could have their say, or they would be ejected from the meeting.
As part of the curriculum review process, legally, there has to be a review by teachers and parents. The board was concerned not only about one supplemental portion but also that there hadn’t been enough parental involvement until about 400 parent surveys were found earlier this week regarding the TCI curriculum.
The compromise and the vote appeared to be celebrated by nearly everyone in the room.
Earlier in the week, there was a 5-hour school board meeting to deliberate on the adoption of an elementary school social studies curriculum. The possible alternative to the new TCI curriculum was presented by Jen Wiersma and included keeping the current 2006 curriculum with new 2019 supplemental materials to meet the demands of inclusive legislation at a cost of $260,000, and then over the year the district could take more time to adopt the new curriculum.
This option, ironically, according to the district attorney, wasn’t viable because the supplemental material hadn’t gone through the process of parental and district overview and consideration, even though it was just supplemental materials.
So a compromise on the new material was crafted by Dr. Komrosky.
According to California Law which took effect in 2017, the social studies curriculum has to be inclusive of the contributions of “…Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.”
In past board meetings, press conferences, and statements, the board has openly said it is not being discriminatory against any groups, however, they didn’t like one of the supplemental sections of the new curriculum using gay activist Harvey Milk as a role model because he also was well known and documented in a biography to have had a relationship with a 16-year-old, making him legally a pederast or a pedophile. Dr. Komrosky made it clear in a press conference he held in response to Gov. Newsom’s attacks on the TVUSD school board that the board was not against Harvey Milk as a gay man, but they were against pedophilia.
This is the supplemental section that will be reviewed to make sure it is appropriate and meets the district’s guidelines for appropriate content in the curriculum prior to being released in the district.
Gov. Newsom has targeted TVUSD with bully-style name-calling, threats and offensive accusations of being inept, ignorant etc, in press releases. The state has also threatened to launch a civil rights investigation into the district, purchase the state-approved curriculum, send it to the district and then charge them the $1.6 million, but also pass legislation retroactively, allowing the state to fine TVUSD $1.5 million dollars, ironically, hurting the very children the governor claims to be concerned about.
At the end of the night, Komrosky made an open statement to Gov. Newsom saying, “I am a sovereign citizen of the United States of America. I was voted in as a trustee. I will make my decisions and I don’t care what you do at the state level. Our kids need an education. They need a curriculum and we have to provide it.”
“At the forefront of our deliberations was the health, safety, and welfare of our students. Included within our work were two core considerations:
“First, all students, including English Learners and students requiring special accommodations, have equal access to instructional materials that meet all state and federal mandates.
“Second, we have rigorously reviewed this curriculum to ensure that the lesson content is age appropriate. I want to be crystal clear. We are not banning content as some people would like to characterize our work. We are working to make sure that the content delivered to our students is appropriate for our students at the age and grade level presented. We also believe that some topics are best left for parents to first introduce to their elementary school-age children rather than being discussed by a teacher in a classroom.
“It was also our priority to ensure that the parents and our community were materially engaged in this process. Frankly, I was not aware of the level of parent engagement until very recently and I am very disappointed that I was not provided this information earlier in this process. In fact, I was given the opposite impression that only a handful of parents had participated in the pilot. When I learned about the level of parent engagement and the overwhelming response by nearly 400 parents in support of the curriculum we adopted tonight, it was a call to values. My pledge was to represent the parents of this community and, clearly, the parents spoke during the pilot process. I listened.
“Tonight, we took steps consistent with these priorities and values, and in full compliance with California law. We also took this action well within the time required to get these materials into our classrooms. We fully intend to stay actively involved in the development of our children’s curriculum and make certain that all curriculum content is age appropriate.
“I would also like to address Governor Newsom. Not once did the Governor take action to actually assist our community in this process. Never once did he actually contact our school district and inquire about our ongoing process. He only took action that made our job harder. He only took action that was intended to grandstand for his own purposes and intended to further divide us. That was not helpful or anything remotely constituting leadership. We never stopped working at our local level despite the ongoing threats from Sacramento. We never stopped caring about the welfare of our children. We never stopped standing up for our values. The way the Governor sought to insert himself into our local government violates every notion of what our State stands for when it comes to the integrity of local control and governance. We did our job while the Governor played games with our community and our kids. Like I said previously, I hope the Governor negotiated a 14-day return policy for the books he apparently has purchased at taxpayer expense and that our local community never asked for or needed from the State.”