How to Destroy a School District in One Easy Lesson

Woodland Park School District in Colorado has been infiltrated and then utterly decimated by a group of religious fanatics. They belonged to a church run by Christian Nationalist Andrew Wommack.

Actually, the word “decimated”might be the wrong description. That’s a reference to a form of punishment applied to any Roman Legion who dared to mutiny. To restore order, one in every ten would be killed. In the case of the Woodland Park School District, far more than 10% quit in total disgust because of the new regime. A total closer to 40% of the professional staff quit.

Side Note: This is not new news, but rather is a bit of a backstory to what is new news. The district school board saga happened over the past couple of years. After successfully infiltrating the school board, the religious fanatics then set their eyes upon the city council. On April 2, five of the seven city council seats were up for election. To totally dominate, all they needed was to win four?

So what happened?

We will come to then shortly. First, let’s cover the details of what happened when they did win.

How did they manage to take over the school board?

Back in 2021, a few years after Trump sycophant Andrew Wommack established his unaccredited Charis Bible College within Woodland Park CO in 2014, he realised that the community was small enough for him and his people to slowly take over and then shape it into a form that adheres to his specific religious beliefs. Such control would also give him power to grant himself tax breaks for all his expansion plans.

Wommack is what is known as a dominionist and in fact founded the dominionist organization Truth and Liberty Coalition. Dominionism is the Christian Nationalist belief that Christians should run everything on the basis of “Biblical Law”, or to be a tad more precise, their cherry picked interpretation of some bible verses, because this is not a church, it’s a cult.

In 2022, he backed a large number of his people to stand for election to the local school board and many of them won.

What then happened?

We have a great insight.

Tyler Kingkade of NBC News revealed the details in May 2023. His article titled “‘Trump was great at this’: How conservatives transformed a Colorado school district reveals all the details. It’s a long article (and well worth reading). Here is a brief summary with some highlights …

  • They adopted the American Birthright social studies standard. This was created by a right-wing advocacy group that supposedly warns of the “steady whittling away of American liberty.”. Not only was it raw political propaganda but they were the guys doing that whittling. The state’s school board issued a long statementIf implemented in schools, these suggested standards would have damaging and lasting effects on the civic knowledge of students and their capacity to engage in civic reasoning and deliberation. NCSS does not endorse nor support the use of these standards.”
  • The new board hired a superintendent who was previously recalled from a nearby school board after pushing for a curriculum that would “promote positive aspects of the United States.”. You can perhaps guess what those “positive aspects” were – hint: basically political fiction.
  • The board also approved the community’s first charter school without public notice and gave the charter a third of the middle school building. 
  • Naturally both teachers and students protested and vocally spoke up. Some of those teachers that did were then fired and others were gagged.

What you have here is an experiment in MAGA conservative governance, and of course over time it just gets worse.

In early 2023 Ken Witt, the new superintendent, did not reapply for grants that covered the salaries of counselors and social workers. He explains that he wanted to focus on academics, not emotions.

The inevitable happens …

As the school year winds down, many of the Woodland Park School District’s employees are heading for the exit, despite recently receiving an 8% raise. At least four of the district’s top administrators have quit because of the board’s policy changes, according to interviews and emails obtained through records requests. Nearly 40% of the high school’s professional staff have said they will not return next school year, according to an administrator in the district. 

“This is an active case study on what will happen if we allow extremist policies to start to take over our public education system,” said David Graf, an English teacher who recently resigned after 17 years in the district. “And the scariest part about it, they knew that this community would bite on it.”

There is much much more, but you get the idea.

Key Observation and also the rather obvious one: Your local vote matters. Who you vote for will have consequences that can be good or very very bad. If you vote for religious fanatics who believe that they should impose their beliefs and dominate, then that is exactly what will happen.

I should also make one other rather obvious point. This is not about belief vs non-belief. Instead, this is a story of what happens when religious extremists who lust after total control manage to get it.

It is also not a story about just a school board, because that was just the first step.

The next move was the City Council and the decisive election was last week on April 2.

Going After the City Council

Logan M. Davis of the Colorado Times Recorder reveals the details …

…Andrew Wommack made his intentions clear.

“Man, as many people as we have in this school here, we ought to take over Woodland Park,” he said from the stage at an event held by his political organization, Truth & Liberty. “This county ought to be totally dominated by believers,” he said. “We have enough people here in this school we could elect anybody we want.”

…a fight which has consumed the school board since 2021 is coming for the city council …

The reporter goes on to explain that four candidates associated with Wommack are standing for City Council. However, due to the friction that has been generated, those four candidates have been striving very hard to keep their association with Wommack a secret so that voters don’t know whose team they are playing for.

He goes on to explain that when he was initially told that this was what was going on, he had serious doubts that it was really true, so he looked into it very carefully …

Then I looked at the evidence, and I discovered, not for the first time, that the local organizers in Woodland Park were correct: at least three of the four suspected Wommack-aligned candidates do, in fact, have ties to Wommack – and all of them seem interested in concealing those ties.

The four are Don Dezellem, Eric Lockman, Tim Northrup, and current council incumbent Frank Connors. 

He then goes into the details of the evidence he found.

Obviously he also reached out to all of the candidates to comment, and … surprise … no denial, instead they all refused to comment.

You might indeed be tempted to raise concerns about the tax status of a religious group that is not supposed to do stuff like this, but for the people living this nightmare, that is the very least of their worries. They needed to contend with an enemy that was literally at their gate. I use the word “enemy” very carefully, because let’s be clear about this. Wommack was only operating in the interests of Wommack and not the community.

Again, just be be clear, the locals are not being anti-religious, they just wanted a city council that can remain neutral and do what’s best for Woodland Park, and not have one dedicate to doing what’s best for Andrew Wommack.

So the election was April 2 … what happened?

It’s good news, the Wommack four lost.

It wasn’t even close. The city rejected the entire Wommack-connected gang –

Clearly word got out and so enough people voted against this next play by the dominionist extremists.

In other words … yea, a happy ending … so far.

The next step now is to get the school board back.

No doubt their next step is to be back again in four years.

One last reminder – the real point here is to drive the message home – every vote counts and so does vigilance. School boards and city councils might feel dull and worth ignoring, but doing that can open the door for extremists.

1 thought on “How to Destroy a School District in One Easy Lesson”

  1. Similar to what has happened here in Ottawa County, Michigan. But with the county board instead of the school board. And it isn’t over yet.


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