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Episode Info: hat the video of his misogynistic comments were fabricated, that the multiple women who have testified of sexual harassment are all lying, that the affairs that have come to light are a liberal scheme to discredit him, and that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt fabricated by the “fake news” media. Nothing . . . And I mean nothing . . . Causes them to reassess their position. It is a spirit.  It is a spirit at work. People can have wrong beliefs because they are misinformed or uniformed, in those cases; giving them true information fixes the problem.  They leave those wrong beliefs behind.  However, when someone is given information that corrects their wrong belief, and they not only refuse to accept it . . . But can’t even recognize it . . . . It is not an information problem, it is a spiritual problem.  They are blinded to the truth. Mistaken Trust But the issues go far beyond the office of president, and it was actually a small local election . . . That of our local school board that caused me to reassess trusting someone just because they claimed to be of the same political party. It began in the spring of 2016 when our school district announced the lone finalist for superintendent.  In Texas, applications for superintendent are kept confidential until the field is narrowed down to one person.  There is then a 21 day period that is theoretically for community feedback.  The thought is that this will allow a district to field more qualified candidates as a superintendent would be less likely to apply for another position where the candidates are known, jeopardizing their current one if they were not selected. The morning the selection was announced, I received a group text sent by a friend who was originally from the same area as the lone finalist.  The district the selected finalist was leaving had essentially been a war zone for the past eight years after that school board was taken over (bought really) by those who wanted to take the Douglas County School District down the same privatization path down which Betsy Devos had pushed Michigan schools.  This Colorado community was high income, highly educated, very conservative, and very engaged.  Because of all of these things (income, education, and engagement of the parents), the district scored well on all tests, was a “destination district” because of the culture and collaboration, and it was even recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an example of collaboration between teachers, administration, and the community. The “Reformers” took over the board in that Colorado school district, hired Fagen (the person our district chose as lone finalist), and the district began going downhill, in terms of both culture and test scores.  I’m not going to write about that.  Numerous articles have been written about the parents’ fight to take back their schools.  A documentary was created on both the story of the district, “The Reformers,” as well as the school privatization movement as a whole, Education Inc., which happened to win a Heartland Emmy.  You can research it if you are interested. What is relevant to our own district is that the previous November (2015), the parents finally won their first victory.  Three seats were up for election on the Douglas County board of trustees, the parents’ movement won all three.  That following spring, one of the former board members was recorded at a meeting saying that while he did not regret any of the decisions they had made, that if Fagen was still superintendent when the November  2017 election came around, that they would lose the other four seats. He knew she was a huge political liability. Just a week later, Humble ISD announces Fagen as the lone finalist.   After celebrating that she would be gone, the Colorado parents warned people in Humble ISD.  Some people, such as my friend, were from the area and knew the history.  Some residents of Douglas County ISD had relatives in Humble ISD, and some just warned people on Facebook.  There was a huge uproar.  People protested.  True story. Up until this point, most people trusted the school board as a whole.  There were dissenters here and there, such as one parent who pushed for three years for the district elections to be moved from May to the general election in November.  There would be occasional rumblings and snide comments about one trustee or another.  But the schools are really about community, and if your personal experience is a positive one . . . And you aren’t hearing anything otherwise . . . It is easy to trust the school board and the district for the rest. When I first heard about the controversy, my thought was that I was sure the uproar was overblown.  I was primed to trust the board.  I didn’t know any of them personally, but I knew people who did, and those were people I liked and respected.  I had friends that were defending the board members they were friends with.  I wanted to believe it was true because I had friends who said that it was. I began to research.  The first articles I came across were publicity pieces paid for by the Douglas County Education Foundation and the district itself (although I didn’t know this at the time.)  Even with those, in one of the articles interviewing Fagen, she said something that made me think, “What does she think Truth is?” Then I got past page one of the searches results and I became very concerned.  There was page after page of articles and posts from parent protestors about what was going on in the district: not only the treatment of teachers and what was being taught, but articles on the unauthorized development of a software program that was kept secret from the taxpayers and for which the funding was unaccounted for.  I still don’t think they have the numbers for that. Many reasons for concern in many areas. The Importance of Truth Right before this all broke, I had literally just finished a Research and Writing class in my Apologetics program where one of the readings is The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis.  As I was reading about the situation in Douglas County, not only about the actions, but the ideology behind it, I realized, “This is the Green Book in The Abolition of Man.” “The Green Book” is what Lewis called an English grammar textbook that he was given to review and it sparked the essay that is TAOM.  The book is about the importance of objective truth and warns against relativism, the movement he saw spreading through education 70 years ago is called constructivism, which is where students make their own truth and meaning.  (My essay in the inaugural issue of An Unexpected Journal stemmed from this experience in our school district.) What Lewis wrote about 70 years ago in England wasn’t just some academic theory, it is a real thing that has its tentacles in my own school district, my neighborhood, and is impacting my kids and their friends.  The horrid district reading program that I have hated since my oldest was in first grade is based on Whole Language Learning, which is itself based on constructivism. On Manipulation Back to the superintendent selection, there was a ruckus.  The school board was at loss on how to handle it because they were long used to people just believing whatever they said, whether it made any logical sense or not (such as it was “cheaper” to hold their own standalone elections and it was too “expensive” for the district to add their trustee and bond elections to the unified ballot.  Yes, they still say that and people still believe it even though the neighboring district with a whopping total of SEVEN schools somehow manages to hold their elections on the unified ballot.) So, as a “concession,” the school board held a special board meeting supposedly to listen to citizen concerns.  It was on a June night in Houston, there were fewer chairs in the board room than normal and from that a row was reserved for board spouses (some of whom didn’t show up.)  The board room was filled, as was the hallway outside . . . Without chairs, without air conditioning, and without even the TV’s turned on so people in the hallway couldn’t hear what was being said in the board room.  The board also chose not to livestream the meeting, so it was left to parents to record and livestream it for everyone else (Facebook live comes in so handy.) You might think, “Hey, at least the board is listening” right?  No.  One of the trustees filibustered for three hours .  . . I am not making this up, three hours . . . Until most of the media left.  After those three hours and the 100 plus slide PowerPoint presentation essentially dismissing and mocking every concern parents had and calling us “the Kardashian network,” (not once, but twice) parents finally had a chance to speak to the board.  During which time the long winded trustee topped his Kardashian comment by responding to a parent and teacher with a PhD in behavioral sciences by saying he had a “comprehension problem.” (I’m pretty sure that the parent has an actual “earned” degree with more credibility than an “honorary” degree from a “university” with a nonfunctioning website that is only open for 40 minutes a day like someone I could mention . . . Just saying.) The parent comments went on for another three hours. What was the result?  Nothing.  That specially called board meeting was just for show, so they could act like they were listening to the community.  Nothing anyone could say would change their mind. When I watched Dr. Ford’s testimony during the Kavanaugh hearings, it reminded me exactly of that situation.  It was all a game, a power play, for the Senators on both sides of the aisle.  Yes, it was obvious that Feinstein withheld Ford’s information to use it to use as leverage against the Republicans.  But it was also equally obvious that listening to Dr. Ford’s testimony was just a show for the Republicans. Her testimony was very obviously true.  The impact of that assault played a continuing role in her life.  But like with our school board members, there is nothing anyone could say that would change the Senate Republicans’ minds.  They didn’t care whether or not what she was saying was true, just as they didn’t care that Kavanaugh avoided answering many direct questions during the confirmation, that he had lied in previous confirmation hearings, one of his own emails in the hearing record refuted his claims about his drinking, and the very questionable condition of his finances.  They didn’t care. None of that mattered, so why would it matter to them what happened to a Democrat when she was 17? The way the propaganda machine started churning out attacks against her also reminded me of what they said about us who protested Fagen’s hiring.  Besides dismissing us as the “Kardashian network” that had “comprehension problems,” they said that everything the parents in Douglas County were saying were lies, that those speaking against her hiring in Humble were out of state liberal operatives, and even that we, the local parents, were not representative of what the district thought (The following spring during the trustee election, a board member actually said that about me when I was standing five feet from her when we were both at the polls.  She said, “She doesn’t really represent parents.” Oh yes, she did say that.) At that point, most of us who were against the hiring of this lone finalist still had a generally positive view of the board.  They were trash talking us, but we thought they actually believed what they were saying. When Brian Malone, the director of “Education, Inc.” And “The Reformers,” came out to Kingwood to give a showing of “The Reformers” to help us get up to speed and so we could get an idea of what we were dealing with, one person at the showing said of the board, “We don’t think they are evil, we just think they don’t know.” Malone looked at us and said, “That is so endearing.”  Looking back, I can see that he knew that we had some hard revelations coming. We actually believed that they really thought that the only reason that there was pushback was because of the work from some scary out-of-state liberal operatives.  We really thought they just didn’t know.  We thought they had been fooled. We thought that it might have been some manipulation on the part of the search firm the district hired.  Yes, I know, we were so gullible.  I have since been told that Fagen was not brought in by the search firm at all.  That the search firm found a number of very well qualified candidates but that two of the trustees held out and said to keep looking.  Then Fagen showed up.  Supposedly, the search firm actually advised against her saying she was too controversial.  But that is who our board insisted on. They knew exactly what they were getting the whole time.  They knew everything the Douglas County parents were saying was true.  And they knew all along that they were lying about us local parents. They knew. So when someone starts beating the same old worn out drum trying to ramp up Republicans by claiming something or other is a “liberal conspiracy,” you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t fall for those scare tactics designed to direct the conversation away from the actual issues  . . . Because I’ve had those exact same things said about me.  So if the people saying it about me were knowingly lying and manipulating, in my mind, the odds are pretty good that other politicians resorting to those same tactics are as well. Pushing for Change So what happened next.  The board hired their choice, ignoring citizen feedback.  A number of us began researching.  Researching more about what happened in Douglas County.  Researching the school privatization movement and the players behind it.  Researching what was going on nationwide as well as in the State of Texas regarding education. We also began researching what had been going on in our own district.  The trust was broken.  We found that we should have been paying attention long, long before.  There were concerns about test scores, building maintenance, support for teachers, and administration of contracts just to name a few.  We found that the rosy picture we had of our district was a facade.  Teachers in the district were afraid to speak up and speak out.  It was either toe the line or get out. But there were eight whole months from the time the superintendent was hired to the deadline for filing for the school board election.  There were four seats up for election in May of 2017, one open and three against incumbents. Even though the board had infuriated many people, there were just a handful of people who stepped up to run for the seats. Of the challengers who filed, seven filed for the open seat, and one against each of the incumbents. Regarding the three incumbents, at the time, I didn’t have anything against two of them other than their hiring of the superintendent and their Borg-like votes on the board (that is not the case now.)  But the third person in position 1, I would not have voted for him under any circumstance.  If the only person running against him was the 25-year-old progressive that initially filed to run against him (and then dropped out) . . . I would have voted for the 25-year-old progressive.  If he ran unopposed, I would not have voted for that position at all. There had been scuttlebutt about this particular incumbent for years, and not unsubstantiated . . . It was a matter of public record.  The “why” behind that record was the question, or at least it was to some people.  But what was not in question was a well-documented situation while he was on the board. His brother was a teacher and a baseball coach at Humble High School.  An associate principal found out that the brother of the trustee was scheduled for a class that had no students and was leaving the campus during that period and couldn’t be located.  The AP went to the high school principal, he told her to talk to the athletic director.  The athletic director said it wasn’t his problem. Since no one in authority would take action, the associate principal handled it herself.  She redid the schedule making the trustee’s brother teach a different class. The you-know-what hit the fan.  The brother complained to the trustee and the trustee to the principal.  According to the principal, the trustee pushed and pushed and pushed until the associate principal was demoted and moved to another campus, a $30,000 pay cut.  (The trustee denies he had anything to do with it.) So let’s be clear about what is going on here.  That the teacher was getting paid for a class and cutting out is fraud, and there had to be multiple layers of complicity: in the scheduling department of the school; the administration, the principal, and the athletic director; and the trustee.   That the associate principal was demoted was retaliation, and the trustee’s action on behalf of his brother is nepotism. The teacher should have been fired and the trustee removed, but that’s not what happened.  After a long grievance procedure through the district, she was given a similar position at the new campus. (She has since moved to another district.) But what happened to the perpetrators?  Nothing.  The principal was promoted to a position in the district administration, the athletic director is still there, and nothing was said about the trustee’s actions.  Any time it comes up the board and their mouthpieces will say there were other things that were an issue with the AP and hint at shady things.  The brother ended up retiring . . . And they named the high school baseball field after him.  True story.  The only person that suffered consequences from the whole thing was the associate principal who took action to stop the fraud. This is the story for the incumbent running for position 1.  There is no way he would ever get my vote . . . For anything. So when I heard that Bob Rehak was running against this particular incumbent, I was ecstatic.  I hadn’t met Bob (and didn’t until two weeks before the election), but I’ve known who he was since I moved to Kingwood.  He is one of those people that every sort of organization and community needs.  His name is always being mentioned because of his volunteer efforts in our community association and area fundraisers.  He was a key person behind the development of our East End Park.  He was part of starting the Ecobots program in our schools. Prior to Harvey, he was researching suitable locations for an area dog park, and since Harvey, he has been writing articles daily on flooding issues and is one of the most active and informed forces for flood remediation efforts for our area. He is someone who is always giving back and making a difference. He filed for position 1 and he is so well known and so well respected, I was sure he could win. More Manipulation The deadline for candidates to file for a position was in February.  At the beginning of the month, one of the local hospital systems released a press release announcing the move of one of their executives from their Northeast location to their Katy location.  This executive happened to also be a school board trustee, one who was not running for election. People immediately began asking him if he was stepping down from the school board.  With the horrendous Houston traffic, no one believed that they would stay in Kingwood and commute to the west side of town.  He stepped down from his position on the executive committee for the local Chamber of Commerce, but he refused to say what his plans were. The deadline for filing for the trustee election passed.  A few days later, someone sent me a message on Facebook with a link on to a listing, a pending listing, for the executive’s home.  It was listed and had a pending offer the same day. The questions continued people wanted to know if he was going to step down.  Again he refused to answer. At this point, it was obvious that it was a ploy to hold this fifth seat out of the upcoming election so the school board could give the seat to their choice in an appointment. The executive was SO indignant that we would accuse him of this.  Really, Kavanaugh couldn’t even approach him in righteous indignation.  By this point, the incumbents had set up a Facebook group, ostensibly for ISD “supporters” in response to the parents’ group that launched from the uproar over the superintendent selection.  Anyone who questioned them, spoke negatively about anything related to the incumbents . . . Even in another group . . . Was blocked from the “supporters” group. The incumbents had a whole crew of people who would defend them, insisting that it was perfectly reasonable that he not step down, that of course he didn’t know what his plans were, and how dare we say that he was intentionally keeping the seat from going up for election. “Just Trust Us” – A Bird’s Eye View An Education in Politics Time for the election rolls around, early voting starts.  This is a long story, I know, but I think these details are important to really understand the scope of what we are talking about. One would think that for a school board election, one would print a few flyers, speak at a few events, and knock on some doors.  No. A recap of the players: the three incumbents who campaigned as a group, a slate of challengers who filed independently but came together after the campaigning started (these were those promoted by the parents’ group), and the remaining candidates running independently for that open seat. And then there was the Kingwood Tea Party.  What does the Tea Party have to do with this?  Yes, very good question.  If anyone has the full scoop on this, please let me know.  Seriously. The closest thing indicator we have is the organizer’s, James Lennon, response to Bob Rehak when Bob was interviewed by the KWTP. According to Bob, when he told Lennon that he did not support school privatization, Lennon screamed at him for 10 minutes. Obviously Lennon is for privatization.  As is our governor, Greg Abbott, I think I mentioned that at the very beginning didn’t I?  Needless to say, Bob didn’t get the Tea Party endorsement for the race. According to our board members when challenged during the superintendent hiring uproar, they insisted they were not for the Reform movement, i.e. privatization, even though the superintendent they hired is a poster child for the movement.  But yet, here Lennon is endorsing them. Local voters are familiar with the KWTP because they are at every election handing out their badly designed voters’ guides.  Even though the nonprofit organization for the KWTP was revoked in 2015, and their PAC has been filing campaign finance reports stating they have zero income and zero expenses since that same time, they still have been holding events and printing and mailing out campaign material. I guess rules don’t apply to them. Lennon was out at the Kingwood early voting location for the trustee election, which keep in mind is the ONLY thing on the ballot, all day every day, handing out flyers. Not only was Lennon handing out flyers and hanging out in the incumbents’ tents, but he was harassing the moms who were there campaigning for the challengers. They had their children with them as well.  He was taking photos of them and posting them online. You know how nasty people get online about politics?  It was like that. Lennon’s postcards, flyers, and emails all had the same message.  Do you want to take a wild guess what it was?  It was a call of alarm that Democrats were involved in the race and that “progressives” were trying to take over the school board.  The Soros bogeyman might have been raised; I’ve heard so much garbage since then, it’s hard to remember. It is a nonpartisan volunteer position.  The Tea Party was campaigning with undisclosed funds.  The Kingwood Republican Women posted a photo of a strategy planning meeting for the school board election in January . . . Before any of these candidates had filed.  But Democrat involvement was the end of the world. I was at a poll on Election Day.  There were only two things I heard from people coming to vote.  The first was “why are my taxes so high.”  The second was people coming in with Tea Party flyers to vote against “Democrats.”  Again, it is a nonpartisan race. One man came in wearing his MAGA hat and said, “I will NEVER vote for a Democrat.” Like Democrat versus Republican is the issue here.  Hey, if I had the choice between two people who would be honest, open, and responsive on the board and one was a Democrat and the other a Republican . . . I would vote for the Republican.  But that was not the case.  Yes, some of the challengers were Democrats, but they were people who I had more confidence who would be responsive to questions when asked; would not be shutting down, blocking, and ignoring people who disagreed with them; would have a more diligent eye on the contracts; would not deny the areas where our district is very obviously lacking; and would not be trying to sell out our schools to the privatization agenda. So because they got a Tea Party postcard, they voted for someone with a very spotty past and where there is ample evidence that he abused his position of trustee over someone like Bob Rehak who has, over decades, proven his integrity and commitment to the community . . . And who has also been a Republican for fifty years. The Aftermath So what happened after the election?  The incumbents won.  Right after that, they purchased an office building for $4.5 million with funds, $3.8 million, which were supposed to be used to expand an existing administration building.  The building purchased had flooded twice in the past two years, and then flooded again two months later when Harvey hit, as did the original building that was supposed to be expanded.  The superintendent said in a hearing that the estimate was it would take $10 million to repair each of the two flooded buildings (whether it did or not still remains to be seen.  The administration is always throwing around numbers as if there is no difference between them, $5 million, $10 million, what’s the difference?)  I’ve been told by a district insider that the entire seventh floor of the purchased building is going to be an office for the superintendent. But hey, at least “progressives” didn’t “take over” the school board right? Then what happened to that fifth trustee position, the one held by the hospital executive who was playing coy about whether or not he was planning on moving out of the district.  Of course he moved and of course the board appointed someone rather than holding it up for election.  Of course, because that was the plan all along.  He had a fully accepted contract on the house he was buying on the West side a week before the deadline for the candidate filing.  He knew all along he was moving. Did all those people who swore up and down that he wasn’t ever apologize?  Did they ever admit that they were wrong and that their “friend” was lying to them?  Of course not. Guess what.  Just because someone says they are a Republican, It doesn’t mean that they won’t lie to you.  It doesn’t mean that they aren’t dirty, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are a Christian.  Trust me.  Since we lost that election, I have spent countless hours looking through campaign finance reports because I want to know who meddled in our district.  It is not just our school board and it is not just the Kingwood Tea Party. Those types of dirty and underhanded dealings, lies, and manipulations are more the rule than the exception. Voting straight ticket is a lazy and irresponsible way to vote.  It allows the people who are selling us out to stay in power. Because of what I witnessed and experienced in our school board election, I will never again make political party the primary determinant of my vote. And it also makes it very difficult for me to have patience with those who do.  I try to remember to have patience and that I was once pretty close to the same way, but it makes me want to shake them and tell them to wake up, that they are being played for fools. The Point of the Matter So what is the point of all this?  A good number of people have already voted.  I highly doubt that anything I’ve just said will make the slightest bit of difference to people in the thrall of the spirit I mentioned in the beginning.  They won’t hear and probably can’t even understand what I’m saying. But there just might be a Christian who reads this, who hasn’t voted yet, and who is feeling conflicted about their vote.  They don’t like what they see their Republican candidate doing or supporting, yet they have everyone around them insisting that they must vote Republican no matter what. No, you don’t. Voting Republican is not necessarily a virtue and it does not make you any less of a Christian if you don’t vote for them. It is up to us to hold our own group, our own political party, accountable. The end never justifies the means.  I have seen so many people trashing and condemning Democrats, when they are doing the exact same things themselves. Right and wrong is not determined by political party.  As Christians, we acknowledge that truth and justice are not something that we determine ourselves, it is determined by God alone and we answer to Him. That someone else is doing wrong does not give us a pass for doing the same thing, it just makes us both wrong.  If we are claiming a moral high ground, we must actually be on that high ground.  As Dr. Young once said, you have to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons. If you don’t know how to vote, pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to tell you, and thank God that we have the opportunity to do this.  Thank Him for blessing you by placing you in a time and in a country where your voice is heard. Endnotes [1] “The Enabling Act” U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed October 27, 2018. “The Enabling Act allowed the Reich government to issue laws without the consent of Germany’s parliament, laying the foundation for the complete Nazification of German society. The law was passed on March 24, 1933, and its full name was the “Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich.”  Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party used intimidation and persecution to ensure the passage of the law. They prevented all 81 Communists and 26 of the 120 Social Democrats from taking their seats, detaining them in Nazi-controlled camps.” [2] Jonathan Tilove. “Texas Republicans pen staunchly conservative platform, call for unity.” The Statesman. Published June 17, 2018. Accessed October 27, 2018. According to the majority of the Republican party in Texas, there is no room for elected officials to follow the will of their constituents if that will is not in line with the dictated will of the “Republican Party,” (ie, the funders behind it.)  If you disagree in any way, they will do their best to make sure you are not reelected, such as Abbott’s bizarre vendetta against Sarah Davis and Wayne Faircloth, and the party’s censure of Joe Strauss, who is retiring. “Under Rule 44, a Republican party or public official who takes three or more actions in a biennium that are in opposition to the core values of the party defined in the preamble to the platform, can be censured by and penalized by denying that candidate party funds.” As Dan Patrick smugly and arrogantly stated: “There is no civil war in our party,” Patrick said in his speech Friday. “There are just a few Republicans that haven’t gotten the message that it’s over.” In otherwords, your representative is to do what his “master” says, rather than the will of the people. [3] Erica Grieder. “Texas Republicans can’t defend decision to censure Joe Straus.” Houston Chronicle. Published January 31, 2018. Accessed Octobery 27, 2018. “This past weekend, the Republican Party of Texas formally censured Joe Straus, the speaker of the Texas House. The decision, which was made by the State Republican Executive Committee, is one that Republicans will surely come to regret. It’s also one that all Texans, regardless of their views on Straus, should find alarming. I’ll confess that I didn’t, at first. What the SREC did struck me as a ludicrous display of malice directed at one of the party’s most respected public servants. But that’s what many Republicans seem to be into, these days. And because Straus is retiring at the end of this year, censuring him has no practical consequences. It’s just a symbolic display of spite, which might help hasten the political transition that’s already underway – in part because it’s become increasingly hard to ignore the fact that the Republican Party of Texas has effectively been hijacked by extremists. What’s empowered those extremists, for the most part, is cowardice on the part of today’s Republican leaders in the state. Straus is one of the few left, apparently, who can stand up to bullies. By contrast, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have taken to insisting that “liberal billionaire” George Soros is the only person bullying Texas, and that they deserve our support for their courageous efforts to stand up to him.” .........
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