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Hostile Takeover, North East Independent School District vs. MAGA, PUFF and Moms for Liberty
There is nothing "conservative" about undercutting our Constitutional Rights.
I really didn’t want to take time away from a litany of global and national security crises but, a local story with intense meaning to me keeps reappearing on our local, San Antonio, evening news. I am writing about this again, because it violates every value that I was raised with. The far-right assault on public education in Texas and specific to this article, is also a threat to the constitutional rights of every citizen, especially those in so-called, red states. Not only is this a threat to our constitutionally guaranteed right to a free public education, but those risks include undermining the future of our nation, states and most importantly, our children and grandchildren’s future.
I first wrote about this back in June and after some recent developments, the situation for the future of NEISD, is now more dire, due to the threat imposed by far-right, White Christian Nationalists, masquerading as conservatives, and involved in what amounts to a hostile takeover of the Board of Trustees. Now, NEISD is fighting for its life as a sustainable, public school district of quality.
As I wrote back in June, I come from at least 5 generations of public-school educators on my mom’s side. There are at least, three dozen professional educators from this group, stretching from elementary school to professors at top tier universities. My maternal grandmother like her mother, began teaching in a one room schoolhouse in rural Missouri, beginning in the mid to late 1800s. Public education is in my DNA although I am the black sheep of the family, whose teaching experience is mostly lecturing on my military expertise at universities, the NATO Centre of Excellence for Terrorism and mentoring teams in my military field (s).
To be fully transparent, most of my regular readers here on TAT, know that I am recognized within my profession (s) as an expert on terrorism, extremism and the influence tactics of terrorists and the methods they use to indoctrinate followers. When I use words like, radicalize, extremist, violent extremists, propaganda, dark money etc. I use them in a professional sense. I am not employing, hyperbole or being sensationalist.
I have absolutely no political ax to grind but, am committed to the principles of our nation and like all military and elected leadership, sworn to protect our nation and constitution. The three sitting members of the NEISD Board of Trustees, put in place via campaign funding from right-wing extremist contributions, cannot say the same. Hence, I raise my voice in alarm, in order to protect our children’s constitutionally guaranteed future and the honor of my family, including my father, wife, oldest daughter, daughter-in-law, and a few dozen cousins who have invested their lives for our future, via public education.
"The mission of the Texas public education system is to ensure that all Texas children have access to a quality education that enables them to achieve their full potential and fully participate now and in the future in the social, economic, and educational opportunities in our state and nation. That mission is grounded on the conviction that a general diffusion of knowledge is essential for the welfare of Texas and for the preservation of the liberties and rights of Texas citizens. It is further grounded on the conviction that a successful public education system is directly related to a strong, dedicated, and supportive family and that parental involvement in the school is essential for the maximum educational achievement of a child." - NEISD Board manual - Mission statement
The bottom line here, is that these Board Trustees, have zero interest in public education. As you can see in the quote above, from the NEISD Board Manuel, it is by itself a violation of their Board of Trustee obligations to work against public education. All that they care about is supporting our Governor Greg Abbot’s, un-American obsession with school vouchers and other unconstitutional education agenda items. The Texas Republican Party of which Governor Greg Abbott is the lead member, also has as part of the 2022 midterm election platform, the insertion of the Christian bible into Texas Schools, therefore denying the constitutional rights of all Texans and Americans, to the right to separation of Church and State and the imposition of a state-sponsored religion. Anyone backing the White Christian Nationalism of such a proposal, must turn in their patriot card immediately. Undermining and/ or violating the constitution is an immediate disqualifier.
Next, I have selected a handful of education items from the TX GOP’s platform and which, the three existing board members and their dark money PAC are attempting to impose on our children in NEISD. Many of these items are illegal, unconstitutional or just plain un-American extremism and sickly, racist.
Now, let’s look specifically at the recent developments by the far-right extremists, paid for by dark money other far-right extremists vying to take over our school board.
Today’s article is in support of one of San Antonio’s finest news outlets, KSAT. One of their excellent reporters, Dillon Collier uncovered some of the depth of the anti-public-school insurgency, by three of the current Board’s sitting Trustees, Steve Hilliard, Marsha Landry and Diane Sciba Villarreal. His story entitled, “Follow the money: How a political action committee disrupted the status quo within North East ISD,” explains in detail, how these three far-right Trustees, have maneuvered to impose, PUFF and Moms for Liberty, far-right extremist ideology, onto the students of NEISD via controlling the Board of Trustees. He sourced the money trail to a dark money far-right PAC called PUFF, which stands for “Parents United for Freedom.” PUFF like the “Moms for Liberty” zealots are pro vouchers, parental control of curriculum from a White Christian Nationalist point of view. Patrick Svitek of the highly respected, Texas Tribune joined Dillon for an interview and his comments backed and expanded understanding of this threat to Texas public schools.
The Trustees benefitting from dark money, far-right donations or serving to support their policies are Steve Hilliard, Marsha Landry and Diane Sciba Villarreal. Hilliard’s unelected wife, also appears to have a lot of say in this group of anti-public-school Trustees, even penning many of his points of view and talking points for meetings. She is also a donor to PUFF.
I hold Steve Hilliard in particular distaste. As a retired Air Force officer, he has sworn the same oath I have, “to protect and defend the constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Backing an unconstitutional far-right agenda is a direct violation of that oath held so dear to most Veterans. Where the hell is his integrity and honor?
As Dillon Collier points out in his reporting, Moms for Liberty was designated a hate group this past summer by the SPLC, Southern Poverty Law Center, known for their excellent reporting and analysis of US based hate groups.
Here is how the SPLC defines Moms for Liberty:
Moms for Liberty is a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement. The group grew out of opposition to public health regulations for COVID-19, opposes LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum, and has advocated books bans. - SPLC- Moms for Liberty
As I wrote, regarding my own investigation into PUFF last June, they are a dark money, dishonest and evasive, dark money group supportive of far-right, unconstitutional indoctrination via public tax dollars. They actively support the so-called, school voucher agenda of Greg Abbott’s and the Texas GOPs’ During the 2022 midterm elections. The TX GOP codifies not only election denial in their platform, but when it comes to education, items like:
101. School Choice: Texas families shall be empowered to choose from public, private, charter, or homeschool options for their children’s education, and the funding shall follow the student without strings attached. We also support tax credits and exemptions for education and choice within the public school system. 102. No Regulation of Homeschooling or Private School Curriculum: We oppose any attempt to regulate homeschooling or the curriculum of private or religious schools 105. Sexual Education: We demand the State Legislature pass a law prohibiting the teaching of sex education, sexual health, or sexual choice or identity in any public school in any grade whatsoever or disseminating or permitting the dissemination by any party of any material regarding the same. All school districts, individual schools, or charter schools are prohibited from contracting with or making any payment to any third party for material concerning any of the above topics. Until this prohibition goes into effect, sexual education shall only utilize sexual risk avoidance programs and promote abstinence outside of marriage. Before a student may be provided with human sexuality or family planning instruction, the district must obtain the written consent of the student’s parent or guardian [Opt-In status]. 106. Inappropriate and/or Harmful Content: We request that the Texas Legislature pass legislation that requires Texas schools and libraries to filter inappropriate and/or harmful content, such as pornography, for minors. Operators of adult sex entertainment businesses and venues, adult entertainment of any kind, including Drag Queen Story Hour, shall not be part of educational programming in public schools, libraries, or any other taxpayer-funded program for children. We support passage of a law more comprehensive than the Florida law that prohibits instruction in sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. We advocate for those who violate any of the above to have their educator’s certification revoked and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law where appropriate. 107. Healthcare in Public Schools: Legislators shall prohibit reproductive healthcare services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support parents’ right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children. We support informed consent of parents before any school-based mental health assessments or interventions are performed. 108. Religious Freedom and Public Schools: We urge school administrators and officials not to infringe on Texas school students’ and staffs’ rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We urge the Legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents and encourage discussing those documents, including the Bible as their basis. Students have the right to exhibit religious items on school property 112. American Identity: We favor strengthening our common American identity, which includes the contribution and assimilation of diverse racial and ethnic groups. We reject Critical Race Theory as a post Marxist ideology that seeks to undermine the system of law and order itself and to reduce individuals to their group identity alone. We support legislation to remove this ideology from government programs, including education involving race, discrimination, and racial awareness. To facilitate the appreciation of our American identity, the contrast between freedom and the tyrannical history of socialism/communism throughout history must be taught. Students shall pledge allegiance to the United States and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism. Students have the right to display patriotic items on school property. Schools shall have the options to display the National Motto “In God We Trust.” 114. National Core Curriculum: We oppose the use of national or international standards in the State of Texas (i.e., International Baccalaureate, Common Core, TEKS Resource System (formerly CSCOPE), United Nations Inclusion, National Sexuality Education Standards, and SIECUS, etc.) We also oppose the modification of college entrance exams to reflect any national core philosophies. Any school district that violates state law banning the use of a national core curriculum or standards shall lose all state funding until said curricula or standards are removed and no longer utilized in classrooms 117. Education on Humanity of the Preborn Child: Texas students shall learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child, including life-affirming definitions of life and the study of life, life begins at fertilization, milestones of fetal development at two-week gestational intervals, use of fetal baby models, witnessing of a live ultrasound, viewing the Miracle of Life type video, and (for high school students) the contents of the Woman’s Right to Know booklet. - Platform and Resolutions as Amended and Adopted by the 2022 State Convention of the Republican Party of Texas
There have also been other disgraceful events regarding the far-right assault on NEISD’s Board of Trustees, since my June 1st article. Dillion covers both in excellent fashion during his investigation for KSAT. I will leave a couple of quotes below, but I do urge you to read and if you have time, watch the videos within his and Joshua Saunders, Photojournalist’s work.
SAN ANTONIO – Late last month, North East Independent School District’s fractured board of trustees interviewed its top four candidates to replace the late Terri Williams as trustee for Single Member District 2. Williams passed away in August following a long illness. The battle to fill her seat has sent NEISD’s board into a tailspin, as trustees have squabbled in public meetings over who should fill Williams’ seat. Three of the trustees: Steve Hilliard, Marsha Landry and Diane Villarreal, have voiced their support for Jacqueline Klein, who lost to Williams in the May 2022 election by fewer than 75 votes" - Follow the money: How a political action committee disrupted the status quo within North East ISD - KSAT - Dillon Collier, Investigative Reporter - Joshua Saunders, Photojournalist
Crystal Keen, the wife of a convicted Capitol rioter, was appointed assistant campaign treasurer for PUFF in February 2022, TEC records show. Keen, who has also donated to the PAC, is listed as both a contribution and expenditure decisionmaker for PUFF. Keen was chosen by Landry for a seat on NEISD’s School Health Advisory Council earlier this year. Keen now serves on the council’s nutrition committee, according to NEISD records. Landry and Keen did not respond to emails requesting an interview on their ties to PUFF. - Follow the money: How a political action committee disrupted the status quo within North East ISD - KSAT - Dillon Collier, Investigative Reporter - Joshua Saunders, Photojournalist
I don’t need to belabor the fine work that Dillon, Joshua, the KSAT news team Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune, and Camille Phillips, of Texas Public Radio have done with this story. My objective by writing today’s article is to amplify this threat to the parents of NEISD and other districts throughout the nation under threat from these far-right extremist agendas. People can be conservative, liberal, anything other belief system or with no belief system if they want. They cannot though market themselves as conservatives when they are actually extremists. My professional experience with violent extremists, in and outside of combat zones tells me very clearly, there is no room for them in positions of power, in any civilized society.
Today’s media, habitually still refers to the MAGA controlled GOP as “conservatives” and this is part of the problem. Hilliard, Villareal, Landry and their far-right funding mechanism are all extremists by any professional standard in my line of work. It’s not only my imperative that I speak up as a voter in the NEISD District, but also as an expert in extremism, violent extremism, radicalization and their impacts on society. In fact, what we truly must have are principled conservatives, liberals or other, to vote actual constitutional principles, not the propaganda of extremist political insurgents when it is time in May, to vote for new Trustees.
I would simply ask that all readers, to at least take a minute or two to consider what I am sharing in this special edition of my publication. Your Children’s future depends on it. Personally, and professionally, I am nearly obsessive about doing my homework on issues, before I write about them. Below are both professional media links and articles that I written on this and related national security topics. Within all of my articles, I embed links to my sources. This issue isn’t between left and right. It’s between the conspiratorial fantasies of extremism vs. reality. Reality in this case is the difference between your children’s future or the ignorance of extremist conspiracy theories.
My best for your Thursday,
NEISD stalemate over vacant board seat might last until election (expressnews.com)
NEISD board hopefuls take turns on the hot seat (expressnews.com)
My TX congressman is gaslighting us on school security and lots more. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Fighting the MAGA crowd in order to protect Public Education. (truthaboutthreats.com)
My TX congressman is gaslighting us on school security and lots more. (truthaboutthreats.com)
TX politics are a national security threat. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Texas government is the antithesis of patriotic. (truthaboutthreats.com)
MAGA is pure blasphemy, pursuing theocracy and the evil adversary of democracy. (truthaboutthreats.com)