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Witch hunt comes up empty

| June 18, 2021 1:00 AM

These smiling faces of Emily Fehling (left) and Miranda Fitzsimmons were captured just as the young ladies were finishing their 7th grade year at Lakes Middle School. Do they look like indoctrinated robots to you?

Lakes is part of Coeur d'Alene School District 271, which features nearly 20 schools and about 10,000 students. For some reason, a Boise-based organization believes Coeur d'Alene School District 271 also harbors witches. Hence the witch hunt.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a blend of Tea Party constitutional conservatism with a bit of a John Birch Society aftertaste, has hoisted its pitchforks and come after Coeur d'Alene School District. A June 7 IFF opinion piece accuses the district of covertly dipping unsuspecting children in the mind-numbing, anti-American cauldron of indoctrination.

"The Left has penetrated Idaho's K-12 system," the opinion piece opens, naming Coeur d'Alene School District as fertile ground for the teaching of critical race theory.

"Administrators could discover and foster the cultural traits that lead to academic success across all groups," it says. "Instead, Coeur d’Alene government officials have created a deeply ideological, morally shameful, and anti-academic program."

IFF had requested public records from the school district before publishing the piece but perhaps thought facts would only get in the way of their opinion, so why wait for the district's response? When the records request was completed on Tuesday, IFF and the general public had their answer.

The district's response appears on Page A5 today. To summarize in four short words what IFF was hoping to uncover, the school district says "no such records exist."

But was that really the intent behind telling the school district to work overtime and find damning examples of overreaching its mission to educate our children?

Some have expressed the viewpoint that IFF is in league with candidates Janice McGeachin and Priscilla Giddings in their quest for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively. McGeachin is heading up a hand-picked task force determined to smite indoctrination from public education, with Giddings as one of the task force members.

Some believe Coeur d'Alene also could be a target because the chairman of IFF's board happens to live in the district. He also is a former appointed CDA school board member who was soundly defeated by Christa Hazel when they ran for the seat in 2013.

Some further think the sour grapes are an answer to voters supporting District 271's levy request this spring, a measure that was ardently opposed by key IFF advocates.

This much seems certain: If somebody wanted to dismantle public education, they wouldn't need facts on their side.

They could distribute a fear-packed, nine-page fundraising pitch to Republicans statewide, posing as the cavalry who will save us all from evil educators.

They could unleash a task force that would make Joseph Raymond McCarthy blush.

They could try to sow distrust in one of this great state's finest school districts, one that also held them accountable for electioneering in a case that has gone to court.

Look again at the photo of Emily and Miranda. If this is the face of indoctrination, we'd like to sign up for more, please.