The Daily Agenda: Mask debates dominate schools
On Tuesdays, we watch school boards... Sparky is a creeper... and what's up with Kari and Alice?
Tensions again boiled over last night as school boards across Arizona met to reconsider their COVID-19 mitigation strategies amid the rise of the delta variant. Shouting matches ensued, personal insults were hurled and breaking points were hit.
In the West Valley, Litchfield Elementary School District Governing Board member Tara Armstead abruptly resigned, saying as the only Black board member, she was targeted amid the ongoing Critical Race Theory debate.
In the East Valley, parents descended on Gilbert Unified School District to warn the district not to implement a mask policy, as board members pleaded with parents to mask their children up, even in lieu of a mandate.
The Scottsdale Unified governing board locked down its meeting, only allowing one member of the public in at a time to complain about its mask mandate after a string of scary moments in recent months.
Those flare-ups included someone distributing white supremacy propaganda at a school and an angry citizen trying to break into a school building to confront the school board, wrongly believing the board was meeting there.
In southern Arizona, students and parents squared off over Vail Unified’s lack of a mask mandate, with some parents arguing the schools are seeing higher rates of COVID-19 transmission than their Pima County counterparts with mask mandates and need to do more to protect children, while others threatened to pull their children from schools if the district mandates masks.
At times, it appeared the students were the wisest and most mature voices in the room.
“Parents are humans too and because of that, don’t always make the right choices,” Dominic Murphy, a high school senior, told the Vail school board. “It’s not about Trump or Biden. It’s not about our parents’ legal rights over us or their political views. It’s about us as students ensuring the safety of one another so we can all become a better, healthier community.”
And if you think the meetings are wild, just wait for next year’s elections. Partisan actors are taking a special interest in targeting school board races in 2022 and the culture wars are just getting started.
That can’t be right: If the cops kill your friend, you can be charged for it in Arizona, reports Buzzfeed’s Emily Wilder. Arizona is among just 13 states where criminals can be charged not only if their accomplices commit a murder during another crime, but if cops shoot and kill their accomplices during the commission of a crime.
Regrets, I’ve had a few: In her last week of employment as the state health director, Dr. Cara Christ told the Republic’s Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach that she didn’t regret her actions during the pandemic. Arizona has one of the country’s highest death rates from the disease, the Republic noted.
We really just wanna see these records already: We won’t be seeing the Cyber Ninjas’ public records just yet. The Arizona Supreme Court stalled a lower court ruling that called for the records’ release because the high court is considering an appeal.
Navajo Nation is pandemicing better than the rest of us: The Navajo Nation announced a requirement for its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 29. If not, they’ll have to submit negative test results every two weeks. The Navajo Nation, which had one of the earliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S., has significantly higher vaccination rates than the rest of the state.
2020 never really ended: The delta variant continues to kick our asses. Testing sites in Arizona are getting busy again, making it more difficult to find same-day COVID-19 testing appointments, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes reports.
Please stop doing this, it’s gross: People illegally dump trash all over the Phoenix area, leaving residents with messes and the city to pick up the pieces. The Republic’s Ty Vinson mapped out dumping complaints across the city, finding the places most likely to deal with unsanctioned trash heaps.
Alice Cooper showed up in a Kari Lake campaign video full of people wishing the conspiratorial gubernatorial candidate a happy birthday. Why? Because they’re friends, reports the Republic’s Bill Goodykoontz.
Cooper is not someone we typically see involve himself in politics. We tried to find any political contributions from him in the state’s campaign contributions database and on the FEC website, but came up empty. (Let us know if you find any.)
We found a 2018 interview with the Guardian where he explained his views on politics, which were, essentially, he doesn’t get into them publicly. He said he doesn’t mix rock’n’roll and politics: “... when musicians are telling people who to vote for, I think that’s an abuse of power. You’re telling your fans not to think for themselves, just to think like you. Rock’n’roll is about freedom – and that’s not freedom.”
He doesn’t think an Alice Cooper show should remind you of politics: “It’s supposed to be an escape from the world we’re living in. And you know the next president is going to be worse than Trump, right?”
A sketchy online survey by a company you’ve never heard of named Arizona State University’s mascot as among the “most offensive” and, in a separate list, “creepiest” college mascots. We’re not sure how it’s offensive or creepy, though the mascot does look like a giant character from 2007’s “Bee Movie.”
One day, we’ll have a lengthy conversation about how to assess surveys and their validity. It’s something we all need to understand so we can better vet the information political campaigns put out.
But for today, we’ll laugh at Sparky’s response to the Republic’s reporting on this survey:
Democratic lawmakers and educators will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. at Sheely Farms Elementary School, 9450 W. Encanto St. to discuss a federal program to boost early childhood education rates.
Fountain Hills GOP is hosting a social tonight at 5 p.m. at the All American Sports Grill, 16872 E. Avenue of the Fountains.