At the SCSB meeting on August 22, 2022, the Governor appointed charter board made good on a threat made to Vanguard Academy charter school on May 12th, 2022 by then SCSB chair DeLaina Tonks. As she addressed Vanguard Academy board members and staff, she stated, “When my kids were little and they had to take medicine, the hard way is I hold you down, and I give you the medicine, the easy way is you open your mouth, and I give you the medicine. Either way you have to take the medicine.”
The “medicine” Tonks is referring to is the claim that a majority of Vanguard Academy board members must not have any association with the plural community, or specifically with the Davis County Cooperative Society.
Legally, this is not a viable stance for the SCSB to take. At the SCSB directors meeting on March 3rd of this year, SCSB Executive Director Jennifer Lambert clarified that they were not talking about lack of diversity, fraud, academic performance, or any deficiencies by statute, but membership or association with the DCCS.
What we’re not talking about and what we are talking about
Understanding the history of urban plural communities. How did we get here?
There are many nuances when understanding the history of urban plural communities. When others faced persecution and abuse in the 1930s, many families and groups were scattered and broken apart. Some chose to move to remote locations and be isolated from the community. The DCCS on the other hand, stayed put; believing that in time, they could peacefully coexist with those that believed different than they did. The DCCS has been well integrated into the surrounding communities for nearly 90 years.
Unfortunately, there have been those who did not share those beliefs; some whose abuse and rhetoric became vitriolic and hateful. In 1957, after more than two decades of abuse, early Co-op leader Charles W. Kingston wrote letters pleading with local authorities and church leaders to stop beatings of public-school children from plural families in the education system, but to no avail. Often school administrators and teachers encouraged the abuse through their rhetoric and in-action.
Many school children are forced to hide their lifestyles or withdraw from public schooling altogether. For most plural families, this means their children’s education is limited and they don’t have the same opportunities as their classmates and fellow citizens. Universities and colleges openly reject applications from high performing students due to alleged plural family backgrounds.
A History of Discrimination against Plural Families in Education
Over time, the data reflects the outcome of this classic victim-abuser relationship. Plural family high-school graduation rates failed to increase with the surrounding community after 1960. College attendance among plural communities plummeted for 40 years.
A google search of first-generation college students by ethnicity shows Latinos at 44%, Black 34%, Asian 29% and White 22%.
For plural families, it is 83%! Not including those choosing to forego college entirely.
When the SCSB says, “take the medicine” they are saying to the victims, accept your abusers. They are saying, plural families don’t have a right to be educated by people with whom they feel safe. They're saying, if you are from a plural family, you don’t have the capacity to make rational decisions.
Imagine saying that to any other group?
For the Hispanic community, you can’t have a majority from your own culture lead your school. Appoint more white people. Take your medicine.
For Native Americans forced to go to white Christian boarding schools. Give up your culture. Take your medicine.
It is not any more outrageous to say it to a population of plural families than it would be to any other group, yet somehow the majority remains silent.
Will anyone have the courage to stand up and say this is enough?
Today urban plural families are scared
The board’s August 22nd decision tells plural families that it doesn’t matter if there is no fraud, it doesn’t matter if there is no abuse, it doesn’t matter if members are following the law when running the school. Because you seem different, and because we are unfamiliar with how you operate, we must automatically assume you are bad.
The decision tells plural children that are trying to overcome generational barriers, that even if you do get to college, you are not qualified to sit in the same positions as your non-plural colleagues.
Many stories of discrimination and abuse in the public school system have poured into DCCSOCIETY.ORG’s inbox this week. On Thursday, August 25th a statement from a Vanguard parent was read for public comment during the Vanguard Academy board meeting, which is available online. The statement read:
“My family has faced 5 generations of discrimination from every corner of the public education system. We have been abused, discriminated against, and systematically excluded from access to the education that my taxes pay for! I do not feel comfortable sending my children to a school if the board is replaced by the hateful members at the state. I will be pulling my children from Vanguard.”
Fearful Vanguard students who are DCCS members have sent us questions that include:
- Are any of my credits from the last three years going to count?
- Am I still going to be able to graduate this year?
- Do my classes this semester mean anything or am I going to get kicked out of them anyway?
- Can they take away my college credits?
- Are my teachers going to get fired if they are [DCCS] members?
- Are people going to come to the school to question students’ membership, or what family they are in?
- Why do they hate us so bad?
- How can I fight / protest this?
It is morally wrong to use children’s future as bargaining chips. It is morally wrong to suggest to abuse victims that they should return to their attacker and “take their medicine.”
It is illegal to discriminate in the way that the SCSB has done during their nearly two-year campaign to destroy the lives of children from plural families.
Enough is enough.
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