Ohio’s Tea Party activists focused on school board races around the state in last week’s election, and they lost big in most cases. Springboro, Olentangy and Westerville all saw their Tea Party candidates go down in flames.
West Clermont Local School District wasn’t so lucky.
In West Clermont, Tea Party member Jim Lewis received the most votes, followed closely by Steve Waldman and Mark Merchant. Lewis, Waldman and Merchant ran together on a Tea Party-inspired platform that vows to protect overtaxed citizens from mooching, overpaid teachers.
According to his candidate questionnaire on Cincinnati.com, Lewis admits to being an “active Tea Party member” as well as Chairman of the Union Township Republican Central Committee, a member of the Clermont County Republican executive committee, and an “active member” of the Cherry Grove Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
On the same questionnaire Lewis claims he is running because he wants to elect conservatives to the board who will fight against teachers unions and prevent school levies from getting on the ballot. Lewis specifically mentions the Springboro School District as a model for West Clermont schools.
Springboro, you may remember, became a national joke when their Tea Party school board members tried to introduce Creationism and Christian Nationalism into the district’s curriculum. In the most recent election, Springboro overwhelmingly voted against the Tea Party candidates.
Throughout the candidate questionnaire Lewis rants about teachers being overpaid, unions having too much control and how he’d like to cut unnecessary classes while shifting to online learning and sharing teachers with other school districts.
When asked about Common Core standards, Lewis goes into a full-on, Tea Party, Glenn Beck-fueled, conspiracy theorist rant about the educational standards actually being “disguised leftist propaganda” that the federal government will use to force your children to submit to unwanted “iris scans” while burdening them with “wireless wristbands to measure pulse, blood pressure, and skin moisture.” Needless to say, none of this is true.
Just from his public statements, it’s clear Lewis is a Tea Party wackadoodle hell bent on “reforming” West Clermont schools in the worst possible way.
But an email obtained by Plunderbund, sent by Jim Lewis to his supporters at the Clermont Liberty PAC, makes it clear Lewis plans to use his new position follow the anti-teacher, socially conservative, anti-levy Springboro model through to its logical end: the destruction of the public system of education.
In the letter Lewis claims he wants to ”go about changing the culture of the staff and faculty” i.e. stop expecting to actually get paid a reasonable wage for your work.
“In my mind,” writes Lewis, “the fate of our future as a nation depends turning back the hands of time and teaching our children instead of propagandizing them.”
Lewis also vows to fight against any new school levies that might be proposed by “ ill-informed do-gooders” and he he ends his letter with this extremely disturbing request: ”We need your help and prayers as we go forward to slay the dragon that is public education in West Clermont.”
It’s clear Lewis views himself as a knight in shining armor, riding into town with a sword in one hand and a bible in the other. And in Lewis’s delusional tale, the West Clermont School System and its teachers are an evil, fire-breathing beast that needs to be killed, or at least chained to the walls of a dark cave.
The students, teachers and families of West Clermont need a school board focused on ensuring the children in their district receive the highest quality education possible. Instead, they will have a board run by a right-wing idealogue who gets his information about educational standards from Glenn Beck, a guy who thinks teachers are the enemy, a guy who believes schools should be starved of funding, a guy who thinks we need to ‘turn back the hands of time’ on education.
It’s a sad day for West Clermont. But if Lewis really does plan to follow the Springboro model, then it shouldn’t be long before he wears out his welcome.