By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) The Colorado Parent Advocacy Network (CPAN) hosted a launch event this week where panel members said that teachers are instructing students about pornography, pushing Marxist ideals, teaching CRT tenants, and shoving gender ideology into their curriculum.
During public comment at the DougCo school board meeting, Jen Iversen said, "The speakers mocked unions and called them communists. Attendees cheered and nodded when a speaker said, government schools are not safe for our children."
According to Iversen, the speakers didn't provide evidence of their claims or solutions to what they consider to be a massive problem within public education.
"There were no discussions by the panel about specific curriculum or support for professional development," said Iversen. "They pushed rhetoric, not solutions."
In a statement to NewsBreak, CPAN executive director Lori Gimelshteyn said, "All statements and responses to questions and other content are solely the opinions and the responsibility of the person or entity providing those statements. These statements/responses do not necessarily reflect the opinion of CPAN."
When asked for examples of the panel's accusations against teachers, Gimelshteyn said, "It has been brought to CPAN's attention several concerns raised relating to pornographic materials, racist policies, and efforts to keep information from parents regarding the gender identity of their children.
"CPAN is continuing to investigate these concerns and will provide information through its website."
District leaders response
DougCo superintendent Erin Kane addressed the controversy created when she accepted an award from CPAN, clarifying the distinction was for "fostering positive relationships, open communication, and collaboration with parents, educators, and the board of education."
"This award was issued by a parent network concerned about those things (a woke agenda) in public education. By issuing the award to our school district, I hope that is a signal to our parents who are incredibly concerned about those things that our district is, in fact, not doing those things."
Kane emphasized that she's dedicated to empowering parent voices for all families, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender orientation.
Board director Susan Meek said Kane's, along with board members Mike Peterson, Becky Myers, and Christy Williams' appearance at the event, feeds into the rhetoric that led to their election challenges.
"It connects our community to the national witch hunt to demonize teachers who join their profession because they believe in public education," said Meek.
"We can't legitimize the comments made on Sunday about teachers bringing pornography into the classroom."
Peterson interrupted Meek twice with the gavel, asking her to keep her comments strictly to reflect on the failure of the district's funding measures. Meek argued she was speaking directly to comments about the district having a woke agenda that hurt the campaign but agreed to continue the discussion later.
About the speakers
The CPAN panel included Erec Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of Rhetoric, and a fellow with the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) and Cain Young, founder of Task Force Freedom and U.S. Army veteran.
Bill Cadman, president of The Shuck Initiatives and former member and president of the Colorado senate and house of representatives was listed as a speaker on the agenda but wasn't present at the event.
In a recent interview with conservative radio host Kim Monson, Young said, “At Task Force Freedom, we are fighting against the evil demons that are forcing children to do everything through the prism of race, and they’re sexualizing little kindergartners.”
According to the FAIR Parent Toolkit, the organization promotes civil rights and liberties for all people, regardless of skin color, ancestry, or any other immutable trait. The group actively fights against equity policies, arguing it's insulting to imply a student needs more services to succeed because they belong to a particular minority.
FAIR also takes issue with social-emotional learning (SEL) programs that promote "justice-oriented civic engagement" and argue that SEL contains components of CRT.
There is little information about Shuck Initiatives online. The nonprofit registered with the state a few weeks after CPAN. The foundation supports community groups that empower individuals seeking pathways to independence.
Task Force Freedom is a nonprofit organization designed to help veterans successfully transition to civilian life through education and mentoring to prevent veteran suicide.