Opinion: Is an educator’s venom and vitriol against others ‘news?’

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance offers some thoughts on recent comments made by area educators on social media

Ken Vance

I’ve been blessed with many mentors in my 34 years as a journalist. At the top of that list is Marvin Case, who for 31 years was the owner/publisher/editor of The Reflector Newspaper.

One of my favorite memories of my time spent working for Marvin was having discussions about events or issues in our community. For the most part, those discussions centered on whether or not the information was “news.’’ You see, not everything that happens in our community is news. It’s certainly information, but is it information that’s worthy to be shared in print, or in the case of Clark County Today, digitally on our website.

I had an “is it news’’ discussion with our staff here at Clark County Today during our Monday morning staff meeting. The issue at hand was the online comments by an educator in the Evergreen School District that had gone viral over the weekend. I appreciate the fact that so many of you shared the information with us. Once I received it, it became my job to determine whether or not it was “news.’’

I am not a journalist who is obsessed with being first to report news. I strongly believe that it is much more important to deliberate and make good news judgments first before making a knee-jerk reaction, or perhaps an emotional decision. And, when we do decide to report something I determine to be “news,’’ I want us to do so in a careful, perhaps even thoughtful, responsible manner. 

So, as the weekend passed, I had worked through the issue of the teacher’s comments in my mind. But, seldom am I ever 100 percent resolute, or rigid, in my news judgment. You see, it’s just that, judgment. It’s not a science. There are no clearly painted lines to operate within. So, I wanted to hear from our staff members. Obviously, I have them on the staff because I respect them and their judgment and wisdom. And, I let them speak first before I shared my thoughts.

It was in that discussion that one of my staff members shared that they were aware of another educator, this one in the Battle Ground School District, who had made a similar comment on social media. Our staff thoughtfully and openly discussed whether or not the information was “news.’’ 

One staff member stated that they believed it was information the public deserved to be aware of, especially if they had children who attended the school district in question, or more importantly, this educator’s particular school. After all, we’re talking about public education. It’s our tax dollars that are funding these public schools and paying the salaries of these teachers who are openly discussing their biased opinions and beliefs, not to mention their disdain for those who feel differently than they do.

At the end of the discussion, I wasn’t ready to concede that it was truly “news.’’ I’m certainly not surprised there are educators who feel the way these two do. Yes, it is unsettling at best and incredibly stupid at worst, for them to share their bias publicly and in such a hateful way. But, mean people say mean things all the time. People who share my beliefs and ideology are also guilty of that. But, these are public school educators. I do believe it is a little bit different in this case.

So, one of our staff members suggested we share the information in the form of a poll question. Editor’s note: I’ve never placed much importance or news value on poll questions in my career. But, here at Clark County Today, they have really taken on a life of their own. They produce meaningful, thoughtful engagement with our readers and we value that greatly. It is vital to a news organization that its readers are engaged.

The poll question has been live on our website less than 24 hours and almost 1,000 of you have already participated. There has also been tremendous engagement, or comments on the poll. 

One comment that resonated with me is someone stated that having your child attend public school isn’t a “right.’’ It is a “privilege.’’ And that if a parent doesn’t want their child in that educator’s classroom, they should just take their child out of the public school and send them to a private school. 

Now, I am not a Constitutional scholar, nor am I a professor of law, but our tax dollars fund public education. If sending our children to public schools is a “privilege’’ and not a “right,’’ I need some convincing of that. 

The conversation in the thread with the educator in the Battle Ground School District also addressed this theme. And, one commenter pointed out that if a parent elects to remove their child from a public school, for this or virtually any other reason, they should have the right to take the thousands of tax dollars with them that the school district receives from the state to educate that child and use it on the education of their choice. I’ve agreed with that premise for years.

Not only have I been blessed to have had many great mentors in my 34 years as a journalist, but I was also blessed to have many great educators during my formative years. I am a product of the public school system, a proud product of Carson Elementary School and graduate of Wind River Middle School and Stevenson High School — all in the Stevenson-Carson School District. 

I am also blessed to still be in contact with many of those educators who helped guide me through those early years. They are among the most special people in my life. I have to say, I never once endured or witnessed the bias, venom and vitriol that the two Clark County educators were caught sharing on social media in recent days. In my K-12 years, I knew what being a Democrat or Republican was. I was aware that some folks were Christians and non-believers. But, I can’t remember having any awareness of ideology, be it liberal or conservative.

I’ve never hidden in this space that on most issues I can be considered conservative. And, I will never apologize for it. I will also never suggest you should believe what I believe. I’m completely at peace with you making up your own mind and sticking to your own beliefs. I’ve said before, my dad taught me, “what happens in our neighbor’s yard is none of our business and what happens in our yard is none of theirs.’’ I live by that motto.

So, as I was being educated as a youth, I was aware I had teachers who saw the world differently than I did, but it was never made an issue by them, or by me. In fact, as a result of the recent comments by the Clark County educators, I reached out to one of my favorite teachers over the weekend. We don’t talk about it very often, but he and I are on complete opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. I knew it in high school, but I’ve obviously become even more aware of it since. I told him that I just wanted him to know how much I appreciated that he never tried to tell me what to think, he just always challenged me to think. Isn’t that what every educator should do?

Situations like this current information about the comments by the Clark County educators continue to evolve. As it does, I will continue to monitor it and I will continue to ask myself if it qualifies as “news.’’ At least one news organization has already determined it is “news.’’

If one of the school districts in question, takes disciplinary action against one of the educators, then that is definitely “news.’’ I think a case can be made that if the districts choose to do nothing, that may also qualify as “news.’’

My son attended private elementary school. It was important to me that he receive that foundation for his education. He had a wonderful experience at King’s Way Christian School as an elementary student. His mother and I were then comfortable having him attend public middle and high schools. By that time, even if he did encounter influences that we were not comfortable with, we felt our son was confident and secure enough to stand firmly on his own beliefs and not be influenced by others in a negative way.

I have to say, in light of the educators’ recent comments, if my son were entering his K-12 years today, I’m confident that I would have a different viewpoint on where he should spend his formative years.

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K.J. Hinton
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K.J. Hinton
1 month ago

The first time I ran into these extortionists’ vitriol over politics (And, for the record, “teachers,” massive, unconscionable and inexplicable pay increases are a “privilege” and not a “right” as well.) my oldest, now 35, was in his first year at Gaiser middle school and I was still on legislative staff.

When I came home from session in Olympia that Friday, I found myself in a position of having to both explain, and to a lesser extent, justify both my political allegiance and my work as a Republican.

Why?

Because my son’s home room teacher went on a major league rant against Republicans.

Well, that following Monday, I was at the school first thing it when it opened to have a little chat with the principal about this.

See, I didn’t care then, nor do I care now, what the politics of these fringe-left scum might happen to be. But more to the point, they should keep their pie-holes shut when it comes to political positions and feelings and TEACH. That’s what they’re there for.

No antifa. No black lives matter. Nothing about Israel. Nothing about illegal aliens. Nothing for or against any Administration action or inaction.

The vice apologized profusely as, ultimately, did my son’s teacher; who sent me a 3 page, hand-written letter to that effect.

It made me think at the time… it made me wonder just the tiniest bit: how many others in the education plant had set about to indoctrinate the students in hatred of the GOP?

Thus, this is not a recent phenomenon.

Meanwhile, school officials/teachers around the country have been fired for expressing THEIR opinions on issues that happen to go against the current of the SJW/woke crowd, so I’ve got to ask:

These same people aren’t hypocrites, are they? Don’t THEY want to be treated the same way they treat others?

Fire them. And do it now. They’re unfit to take up air in a classroom with children in it.

Period.

Jack Burton
Guest
Jack Burton
1 month ago
Reply to  K.J. Hinton

Young people don’t have any money, generally accept their peers as equals, and usually care about the less fortunate. That’s why young people largely stay away from the GOP. Once they have some money to be taxed, need someone to blame for their problems, and/or decide looking out for #1 is the way to go they transition to the GOP. There is no indoctrination involved or necessary. Young people have slanted Democratic since the 50s. I was raised in Eastern Washington where I was taught the Civil War was about states’ rights, Mark Twain and Harper Lee were evil, and racism ended with the Civil Rights movement. Was I indoctrinated? All the whining about indoctrination is really an indictment of us as parents. If 180 days can undo everything I’ve raised my children to believe, that’s on me. Teaching kids human biology is not indoctrination. Teaching kids that some of them have worse outcomes in criminal justice/education/housing/medicine is not indoctrination. Teaching kids actual American history is not indoctrination. If a teacher states “Republicans/Christians/white people/insert your favorite rant” in the classroom then by all means get out your torches and pitchforks. But it just doesn’t happen as much as the CCT echo chamber would have you believe. 2,100 teachers in those two districts, have some perspective.

K.J. Hinton
Guest
K.J. Hinton
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Burton

Correspondingly, if a teacher denigrates one group over another, that’s her PERSONAL opinion which has precisely zero place in a classroom generally and a middle school classroom particularly.

The principal knew she was wrong; in her apology letter SHE made it clear she was wrong… yet somehow you think it’s OK?

I have the perspective I need… and while you claim “it just doesn’t happen as much as the CCT echo chamber would have you believe” teachers effectively posting that those who don’t get vaxxed should just be allowed to die and others who then claim that would take care of 30% of “the wrong kind of voters” would tend to disagree… and that was in Evergreen SD here within the past few days, I might add.

To expect these same people to never expose their charges to THAT “thought-process” is delusional.

Teachers have a job to do. The results, based on the OSPI’s own report card, show that it’s not being done. And there is precisely zero place in the classroom for their opinion diluting academics.

Our property taxes just exploded to pay these people unjustifiable wages and we’ve gotten precisely nothing back for our “investment.”

That’s not a “perspective.” That’s based on the unacceptably miserable outcomes these kids and those paying for this insanity are subjected to on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, I want them to be treated EXACTLY the same way they would treat others who’ve said the wrong thing on social media and seen their jobs/careers ended as a result.

After all, we can’t have a double standard now… can we?

Roy
Guest
Roy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Burton

“But it just doesn’t happen as much as the CCT echo chamber would have you believe.”

And you know this how?
Please define, “as much” and how much is too much? Or, too little?

To me, those were disgusting emails sent by adults who are state employees, who have paid training on child psychology and behavior management.
Whoever they are and no matter their job title they should be suspended without pay for this upcoming school year.

Jack Burton
Guest
Jack Burton
1 month ago
Reply to  Roy

2,100 teachers in those districts. 2 teachers that I’m aware of. So, .00095238095% of teachers in those districts.

You called me out for being vague, and rightfully so. I should have said that instances with actual evidence of this happening, rather than anecdotes that serve a purpose with no evidence, happen a lot less than the echo chamber on CCT would have you believe.

Better?

Look, you think people should be fired/suspended/reprimanded for having opinions outside of work and that’s your right. I’m just saying let’s not paint every teacher out to be the antiChrist because two teachers said something you find offensive.

K.J. Hinton
Guest
K.J. Hinton
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Burton

I’m saying that HAS HAPPENED IN THE RECENT PAST.

INCLUDING THE WY’EAST PRINCIPAL not too long ago.

You seem to think that because only too of the leftist scum were moronic enough to put it on social media that it isn’t far more p[ervasive then you’d like to have us believe.

Nonsense.

One standard for all. If anyone gets fired for posting something off school grounds on their own time, then these scum should as well. This ain’t rocket science.

And t6hose who “think” like they do should do us all a favor and just resign.

Nela Nadeal
Guest
Nela Nadeal
1 month ago
Reply to  K.J. Hinton

Well KJ, if you are going to talk the talk then WALK it! Let me clean it up for you, then we won’t know what you are based on your politics. No antifa, No BLM (especially after they scrubbed their website to remove that vitriol that was a part of their M.O.), Nothing about Israel, No Proud Boys and No White Supremacist under any other name, including SOME of those that share caucasian skin color, but SEEM to be from Eastern European block countries! And don’t forget those holding office in Vancouver that made news for her comments in recent months. My loved ones fall under all different racial groups and some were not born into my family. But I will not betray or give them up for any of this foolishness that should have been shut down decades ago, if not sooner.

papermaker
Guest
papermaker
1 month ago

Well didn’t the former principal @ camas get pressured to resign over the comments on a private fb chat?

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie
1 month ago
Reply to  papermaker

A former VSD Board member was also forced to resign over a comment on social media in regards to protesting/riots in Portland.

Phil Haggerty
Guest
Phil Haggerty
1 month ago

Spot on Kenny, again.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa
1 month ago

The Evergreen Teacher did not say let the children die. In fact elementary children are not even eligible yet. Middle and high school students mostly still need parental consent.

If grown up choose not to be vaccinated then their fates are in their own hands.

Ken Lund
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa

I appreciate your thoughts. I accept an adult can choose their own fate and bypass vaccination.

In this case, unvaccinated staff are putting my kids at risk. That SHOULD NOT be their choice.. Their choice should be get vaccinated or change careers.

Vaccines must be mandated.

Thanks for your thoughts and for allowing me to share mine.

Rob
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Lund

The science doesn’t back up your claim. Vaccinated carry the same viral load, and possibly more, than unvaccinated. Kids have a practically zero chance of serious injury or dying

Ken Lund
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

That may be the most laughable thing I have heard this week.

The science absolutely supports masks/vaccination slowing the spread of COVID. That is internationally irrefutable.

Statistically most kids may be less vulnerable than the elderly short term. There is some early evidence of potential longer term effects. And there are other kids and adults that are more vulnerable than others. Schools are a petri dish when it comes to viruses. Does this maskless/unvaccinated person get the right to pick and choose who gets protected?

Are the anti-maskers and anti-vaccinators so selfish they just don’t care about their impact on others? I don’t want to believe that. I want to be proven wrong.

I admit, I lack an understanding of the logic in fighting masks and the vaccine. Or at least quality masks, not their favorite cowboy kerchief or turtle neck shirt. That also is ridiculous.

They have the right not to participate as long as it does not negatively impact others. That is their right and their responsibility.

Roy
Guest
Roy
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Lund

Laughable thing of the week?
You must not be aware of many big events then.

Ken Lund
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Roy

LMAO!
Sadly true. Life is not very exciting!

Avi Cohen
Guest
Avi Cohen
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Lund

Actually, Ken, you thinking you have an opinion that is your own is much more laughable than “The Science” being presented to you and you robotically rejecting it. Sheeple have no ability to think for themselves. The CDC has posted deaths for kids 0-17 since COVID started. As of early July, BEFORE these poor children started being injected wth a bio-weapon for a virus that has a 99.998% survival rate for kids, 335 children died! AND it was found most of the 335 had major comorbidities. For 335 deaths across the nation, you’d like to subject them to a supposed vaccine that even VAERS cannot hide has resulted in more deaths than all vaccines combined in the past 30 years. There’s nothing like a pompous fool!

Bill Hamby
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa

Wake up the Woke! I I guess you figure 1 + 1 is 3!

Ken Lund
Guest
1 month ago

Your comments are thoughtful and respectful. I appreciate your reflection very much. I understand and appreciate your approach.

Is the issue news? Nope. At a point in time it would have been. Not any more. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed. And you may be right. How it gets addressed (or not) might be news… might. 

I am old enough to remember a book I read in the 1980’s or 1990’s titled “Blood Sport”, about the mayhem in American politics. It was salacious news. It is now ridiculously mild by comparison. 

The line to note hear is social media has changed how we behave. For both better and worse. I don’t know that social media is a root cause or a symptom. I do know as individuals, we cannot abdicate personal responsibility/accountability. It’s a pretty bright and public line.

I do know the social graces I was taught and that I taught my kids have in large part been abandoned by our society and replaced with anger and hatred in lieu of rational thought, kindness and compassion. It is no longer a debate. It is an open and highly personal public flogging.

Looking to the future, this is sad and scares me as words often lead to action. Anger and hatred are irrational and lean toward anarchy, not thoughtful solutions.

Long term, viable and mutually beneficial solutions require rational thought, measured behavior and diligent relationship management with an intention to benefit a greater good before oneself. To me this is the difference. Selfless versus selfish.

It is a deliberate choice.

Bill Hamby
Guest
1 month ago

The people who have children in these districts need the names of these so called educators!

Rachael
Guest
Rachael
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Hamby

The teacher from Evergreens district is Jeanine Reiter Kolkemo.

Ken Lund
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Rachael

I appreciate the sharing of information. This sharing may have just created liability for Rachael as she has put a spotlight on the aforementioned person. Please be thoughtful and do not over react as the information may or may not be correct. Verify your facts. Seek action through the district, not on your own including hyperbole on social media. Be thoughtful, prudent and measured.

Rob
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Lund

It was already in the public. The teacher that posted did so publicly. “The Recovering Pastor” posted first and included a link to her public FB post. After that she deactivated her account.

Jack Burton
Guest
Jack Burton
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Hamby

Why are they “so called” educators? If you’re passionate about vaccinations, as many on here are passionate against them, and express it in your free time you can’t possibly teach kids about the phases of the moon, how to spell “c-a-n-c-e-l”, or how to add decimals?

Rob
Guest
1 month ago

I appreciate Ken’s thoughtful approach but when a taxpayer funded public school teacher spews this kind of hatred towards HER OWN STUDENTS, she crossed a line. Full stop. Period. End of discussion. Let’s not forget teachers are mandated reporters who have a legal obligation to look out for the physical well-being of their students & report reasonable suspicions of abuse, harm or neglect. Based on her own words she can no longer be trusted in this regard but she would cause them harm by denying them healthcare as she advocates for.

Ken Lund
Guest
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

I can’t argue your point. You are correct.

Jack Burton
Guest
Jack Burton
1 month ago

Treating the ESD comments and the BGSD comments as somehow equal is completely disingenuous. Condoning people dying off is not the equivalent of venting about a vocal minority group in the district. I respect you Ken, but if social media existed when we were growing up things like this would have come up as well. It’s not the teachers that have changed. And then, as now, I would support a citizens’ right to their opinion when expressed on their own time. Should a doctor that laments those that don’t get vaccinated, or those that do, on their own time be fired? Should a pilot that espouses flat Earth belief on their own time be fired? Should a teacher that shows confusion and frustration with the whole transgender phenomenon on their own time be fired? Public education is a right. Thought policing every public employee, in their role as a private citizen, is not. My child’s teacher may be a Democrat, Republican, Nazi, Antifa, or a dominatrix on their own time. Doesn’t mean they can’t teach my kid long division.

Nikki
Guest
Nikki
30 days ago

This is disturbing on so many levels. I see this women as a danger to our children and needs a mental health evaluation. When you can’t control yourself enough and post that you are wishing death upon a child, you deserve the consequences of those actions. You’ve got to know comments like that are never going to stay private. WE are in charge of our children’s health regardless of how you feel. This “anti-vaxxer” hate is starting to look a lot like the days of segregation. “Anti-vaxxers NOT WELCOME”. Or in this teachers case “LET THEM DIE”. Keep the politics at home. The number of tax payers that are going to be voting NO on school is growing. We are paying for teachers not politicians!!

Zeke308
Guest
Zeke308
28 days ago

It just goes to show how badly diseased and warped are the minds of the demon-possessed leftist thralls.

These same people are gleefully poisoning the minds of children by pushing gender dysphoria and confusion of identity at a very young age; by pushing racist “theories” that demonize or victimize people solely on skin color.

Evil is afoot and running rampant in the bureaucracy and the “classroom.”

Distractin Neighbor
Guest
Distractin Neighbor
27 days ago

Let’s be real just one of the reasons teachers are democrats is because they support illegal immigration knowing the children will have to be educated its job security at your and your children’s expense.. The next time teachers cry about school budgets ask the school board to release how many illegal immigrants are sending their children to your schools.

Last edited 27 days ago by Distractin Neighbor
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