We are grateful that Carolyn Rogerson has offered us an opportunity to clarify our views on Coronado’s school board controversies.

Since Ms. Rogerson has raised the fact that we are psychiatrists, let’s first be clear that we speak only as concerned citizens and grandparents, not as mental health professionals – and we are certainly not saying anyone involved in the various Coronado controversies suffers from mental disorder.

“We are saying that a small, but vocal and influential group is attempting to politicize our school system and polarize our community.”

Donna Manning MD & Allen Frances MD

Instead, we are saying that a small, but vocal and influential group is attempting to politicize our school system and polarize our community. This has nothing to do with psychiatry and everything to do with bigotry, a denial of history, and a lack of civility. Their attitudes and actions threaten the integrity of our school system and the stability of our community.

Coronado bigotry was most obvious in the attempts by the mayor and others to whitewash the shameful Tortilla-gate incident and to shift blame onto school officials for apologizing. Please read the April 15 Op-Ed by Kevin Ashley if you have forgotten how ugly and embarrassing this episode was, and the national shame it brought to Coronado.

Bigotry is displayed in gay bashing

Similar bigotry is displayed in the gay bashing and racial dog whistling that have too often been used to attack the school curriculum. CUSD is not independently or arbitrarily introducing gender and race issues into the classroom; it is merely following what is mandated by the state.

We refer Ms. Rogerson to California’s ‘Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act’, which “prescribes inclusion of the contributions of groups previously excluded in the history of California and the U.S. This section previously included men and women and numerous ethnic groups; the expanded language requires inclusion of the contributions of LGBT Americans to California and U.S. history as well as their roles in contemporary society.”

If she, and a small group of other like-minded Coronado parents, object to the state mandates, they should take their concerns to the state Llegislature, not waste valuable time at school board meetings.

Plans to politicize school boards has failed

Making a big fuss about LGBTQ issues and denying America’s shameful racial history is not a homegrown strategy. It is an outgrowth of Steve Bannon’s openly stated national plan to politicize school boards with culture war memes in order to win votes.

Fortunately, Bannon’s strategy failed in several other states during this last round of elections- and it also failed in Coronado.

School boards play a crucial role in our educational system and mustn’t be disrupted or hijacked for narrow partisan gain. Anybody who espouses these views is, wittingly or unwittingly, feeding into Bannon’s cynical strategy.

You can’t provide a good education for kids by censoring ideas, denying historical facts, and stifling curiosity. America’s racial history is an essential part of our American history and can’t be whitewashed or airbrushed as if it never happened. It doesn’t protect kids to make them ignorant and incurious- instead, it handicaps them for the real world of life after high school. Understanding the past is the best way to understand the present and be prepared for the future.

Coronado is especially lucky in having a local historian like Ashley who has eloquently and industriously described in detail the racial history of our island. You will find his writings fascinating and enlightening.

Standard civics lesson

Teaching respect for diversity is nothing more than standard civics education- not some sinister plot to seduce children or make them feel guilty. It is just simple decency to promote empathy for minority and LGBTQ students- and to protect them from bullying.

Parents need not fear that such education will increase the odds their kids will turn out gay or transexual- sexual and gender preferences are biologically driven, not taught in classrooms.

The lack of civility in our community has improved considerably since the recent school board election.

Because extremist candidates lost, we now have a solid majority of reasonable people, representing the moderate majority, who are eager to fulfill their educational role unimpeded by partisan politics.

Previously, school board meetings were repeatedly disrupted by raucous demonstrations and individual  school board members were subjected to crude and cruel intimidation. We must let our school board focus on the real educational needs of our kids- not be distracted by political dirty tricks.

We love our school system. It has provided our grandchildren with the best possible education we can imagine. They say that many of their best teachers were at Coronado High School – not at Harvard or Berkeley or Duke. We are blessed with a wonderful school system- don’t mess it up!

Donna Manning MD & Allen Frances MD are Coronado residents.

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Donna Manning is a Coronado resident.