Although this is a post that is specific to my personal state, I suspect that characters like the one I’m going to talk about today are present in every school board in every state. If you don’t already know, school boards are elected officials, with quite a bit of power to dictate what students learn – and don’t learn – in school.
And, in the wake of the pandemic, school boards have a lot of eyeballs on them. Over the past five weeks my state school board alone has heard arguments over masks, voted on anti-CRT legislation, and recently the most contentious school board members posted anti-LGBTQ propaganda.
That’s right, I’m talking about Natalie Cline. I’ll tell you this, I had to really be thoughtful in making this post, as well as consider whether it’s worth it. Natalie Cline has a track record of personally targeting educators. When she chooses to target someone, she has a mass of far-right followers who threaten, harass, and scare the individual she’s targeted.
Well, she’s been censured by the state, but I’m not sure it solves the problem. She was elected in the 2020 election, which means she’s been in her post for less than a year. During that time she’s caused controversy after controversy, and seemed to lob insults at every community who is not her own, insular, far-right, religious community.
Although Biden won the presidential election, locally elected posts have been filled with Natalie Clines: far right conservative politicians that scrambled their way into local politics. While the Democrats were focused on the Presidency, the conservatives were winning locally. This is a problem because local politics matter and local politicians are much more likely to make an impact on your day to day life.
Cline, for example, is part of a board who decides what your child does and doesn’t learn in school. If Cline had her way (and she didn’t) I wouldn’t be able to say the word “systemic” in my classroom. In fact, because of Cline, a fellow teacher straight up asked me if I taught CRT. Why? Because I was the history teacher. No other reason.
Politicians like Cline do nothing more than put stress on an already burdened system. Their cult of personality requires that they use incendiary language to inflame their cult of followers, causing local politics to spend time on ridiculous amendments and demands.
It’s like that one kid in class who always shouts out because they think they know the answer, but they never do. Except this time, it’s an adult who’s in an elected position with absolute power to bring the class to a screeching halt over nothing.
Our own local politician, Natalie Cline, is currently under censure. However, she’s elected and with us for the next three years. So far, Cline hasn’t succeeded in pushing through much of her agenda – but when the arguments over CRT wane that’s when she’ll strike, affecting the education system in Utah for years to come.
This is why I’m constantly screaming about local politics on my blog. It impacts you, your children, and the citizens your children grow up to be. Education matters. The Conservatives know it, and they’re targeting education laws because of it. We can’t let censorship into our schools. History, real history, deserves to be taught. If not, we will continue to perpetuate the very things we’re fighting against.
Don’t let the Clines of the world make you fear speaking out. Stand up for what you believe is right. Stand up for educators, stand up for children. Do it in your home, your office, your schools, your gym. Be vocal. This is no longer “feel good” politics. Disagreement is natural and correct. In fact, it’s only wrong when viewed from a lens of partisan politicians who believe any criticism is an attack on their character.