Op/Ed: A time for choosing

Before SARS-CoV-2 invaded America, Unionville existed in a sort of Lake Wobegon-like bubble.  Political differences among neighbors did not matter to many of us because, frankly, life was pretty good the way it was. However, over the last two years, that façade has crumbled as adults who should know better continue to shamelessly rip innocence and rites of passage away from our children.

For some of us, the scales fell from our eyes when we suddenly found our families at the mercy of feckless public-school officials. It is embarrassingly trivial now, but prior to 2020, the district's most controversial issue seemed to be how many millions of dollars would be spent on facilities and athletic fields. By the summer of 2020, however, our public-school officials usurped for themselves the power to substitute their judgment for the judgment of parents on matters affecting the health and well-being of our children.  How did that happen?

School board members are elected by a tragically small group of voters.  Some of us used to think we were simply electing well-meaning citizens interested in the efficient management of public schools. But in 2020, those individuals determined – without any legal authority – that they have the right to do things like arbitrarily deprive children of in-person learning and require children to strap ineffective masks to their faces for hours each day. Even after being wrong about nearly everything, even after the tremendous — and well documented — harm their policies have caused children, and even after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court emphatically determined that their policies are unlawful, these individuals paternalistically insist that they know better than those who have opposed their unlawful policies at every turn.

Far from being chastened by their failure, these bureaucrats are shockingly emboldened. For example, two incumbent school board members recently ran on the platform “Education, Not Politics,” based on their apparent belief that they hold the moral high ground while parents who adamantly oppose their policies are simply nasty domestic terrorists.

The slogan was stunning since just a few years ago, one of the individuals using it actually decried the use of the very same slogan (see https://chaddsfordlive.com/2015/10/28/letter-to-the-editor-political-operatives-running-for-school-board/).  At that time, he determined that his opponents were out of line because they were allegedly grizzled “political operatives” running against humble political neophytes. Apparently, the line between “political operative” and moral superior is thin, and those with political power get to decide for themselves which side of the line they are on.

But the divide in Unionville is not merely political. It is ideological. It is fundamental. On one side are those who value civil liberties, parental rights, and the rule of law. On the other, those who believe that perpetual “emergencies” are cause enough to vest even menial elected officials with unprecedented power. In Unionville, those of us on the side of limited government are out of step with the majority who apparently favor the authoritarian status quo. So, what are those in the minority to do?

We can organize support for school board candidates who courageously offer an alternative. We can support school choice initiatives like Pennsylvania Senate Bill No. 1015, which would empower parents to take their children and their education dollars elsewhere. We can try to hold the bureaucrats accountable through open records requests, speaking at public meetings (when permitted to do so), pursuing litigation, and writing letters like this one.

Alternatively, we can accept that our values have no home in Unionville and move to communities in free states like Florida or Texas.  Or, if we choose to stay, we can try to insulate our families from the madness of the crowd.

After two years spent vigorously opposing the unlawful policies imposed on my family, unfortunately, it seems that attempts to advocate for change are hopeless. While certain things are worth fighting for, the unceasing Covid theater suggests that the omnipresent police state favored by the majority is here to stay.

I chose to raise my family in Unionville. Leaving family, friends, and generations of history behind would be painful. But the ideological winds in this community for people like me are foreboding. Those of us in the minority must decide whether the Sisyphean fight is worth it or whether we should start planning for the “national divorce” that seems all but inevitable. For those of us in the minority in Unionville, this is a time for choosing.

Chad Williams
Birmingham Township




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