At last week’s Arizona School Board Association’s (ASBA) Law Conference, school board members from across the state were treated to keynote speeches by Red For Ed advocate and ABC15 anchor, Steve Irvin and and “Civic Evangelist,” Eric Liu.
According to attendees, depending on your ideological leanings, the controversial Liu raised eyebrows, praise, and questions. Other than a single rave review by ASBA’s official twitter account, Irvin did not inspire or otherwise spark much interest:
— Az School Boards (@AzSBA) September 5, 2019
Liu, who got his political start in the Clinton administration and served in the Obama administration, called on attendees to put his particular brand of justice before civility.
Unlike the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which promoted passive resistance against injustice, in other words; civility, Liu, like other progressives, advocates for active resistance.
For those unfamiliar with the “no justice, no peace” and “justice before civility” concepts, they are the notions behind acts of resistance ranging from a restauranteur chasing Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family out of the Little Red Hen, to left-wing thugs beating journalist Andy Ngo.
For his part, Liu, founder of Citizen University and executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship & American Identity Program, and strident anti-Trumper, has argued against violence per se. At the same time though, he encourages division because he believes “that a rush to reunion can entrench injustice.”
Liu’s message surely had to confuse some of the ASBA attendees, given the fact that schools are struggling with increased incidences of bullying and the “no justice, no peace” movement creates and celebrates bullies. But part of Liu’s success is how even when he is on the attack, he does so from behind a civil tongue and pen. In April 2017, Liu wrote a piece for the Washington Post in which he dehumanized President Trump, but in a most civil way.
In that piece, Trump’s most striking accomplishment so far,, Liu begins, “As Donald Trump approaches the 100th day of his presidency, let’s give him credit: He has sparked one of the greatest surges of American citizen action in half a century. Indeed, this burst of civic renewal may be more enduring than anything else he has done in his chaotic first months on the job.”
Liu then describes Trump as “a bombastic, authoritarian, nativist president whose erratic behavior and executive overreach made him a vivid threat to democratic norms and the Constitution.”
Liu offers no examples of Trump’s overreach at all and in light of the fact that Liu worked in the Obama administration where executive orders were doled out like tissues during cold season, one should consider his writing hyperbolic at best.
Liu, who pushes for a Civics Religion, writes about Trump like most zealots:
“Though much of the new civic engagement is negative — activated, that is, by a desire to resist or block Trump and his agenda — there is no question that Americans left and right are developing civic muscles that can be put to many uses for many years.
“Indeed, it’s important that many agendas emerge. A single centralizing force such as Trump is best neutralized not with a single source of opposition but with a swarm of countervailing forces, like antibodies to a virus or Lilliputians to a Gulliver…
“This is why libertarians are speaking out against Trump’s casual but menacing suggestions that protest be punishable or the rights of criminal suspects abridged. Meanwhile, social justice progressives and pro-business conservatives both are pushing back as Trump officials propose capping legal immigration. And frustrated Trump voters are organizing to hold their man to his “America First” pledge as he gets the United States more entangled in conflicts abroad.
“The framers of the Constitution knew that local militias, rooted in their communities, were motivated to defend liberty not as an abstraction but as a face-to-face experience. We are seeing today the spontaneous emergence of networks that are like civic militias: locally rooted webs of citizen lawyers, citizen journalists, citizen scientists, citizen artists and citizen preachers, self-organizing to defend freedom on a moment’s notice.
“We have Trump to thank for this. We can show him our gratitude by further limiting his ability to do harm — and further bolstering our ability to repair the republic.
Of course Liu’s preferred solutions are the usual progressive remedies for every ailment the progressives would seek to cure, while he has no use either for libertarian or conservative groups or solutions, and likely would stand in opposition to any actual militia.
The attendees I spoke to were disturbed by the highly partisan nature of what was supposed to be a nonpartisan event hosted by a nonpartisan organization. One attendee wondered just how many school boards would invite Liu to bring his brand of “religion” to their districts.
In my opinion, even if only one district invites Liu to share his creed, it is one too many. In Arizona, it is against the law to proselytize in publicly funded schools. If the traditional faiths and their understanding and messages of morality and responsibility are not allowed in the classroom, Liu’s shouldn’t be either.
43rd Annual ASBA Law Conference – Materials
|Thursday, Sept. 5 8:00 am – 5:00 pm|
|8:00-8:05||Welcome & Overview of the Conference||Dr. Tim Ogle|
|8:05-9:30||Legal & Legislative Update: A Run-Down of the Latest from the Capitol and the World of School Law||Chris Thomas|
|9:30-9:40||Presentation of 14th John McDonald Award||Chris Thomas|
|10:00-10:50||Stump The School Business Official||Dr. Chuck Essigs, Jeff Gadd, Ken Hicks, Dr. Anabel Aportela|
|10:50-11:50||When Values Clash: The Culture Wars Played Out In Our Public Schools and the Courts||Jim Walsh||Presentation|
|11:50-1:00||Lunch/Speaker Steve Irvin ABC15||Steve Irvin|
|1:00-1:50||It’s Not Just Peanuts: Allergens and the Law||Deanna Rader &|
|1:00-1:50||Who Gets to See that Video?||Julie Tolleson &|
|1:00-1:50||Don’t Do This…Do That: Open Meeting Law Best Practices||Chris Thomas &|
|1:00-1:50||The Legal Perspective on Social Services at Schools: Working With Outside Groups to Serve Your Students||Tom Pickrell &|
|2:00-2:50||School Resources and Elections: An Overview and Emerging Issues||Jim Giel & Randie Stein||Presentation|
|2:00-2:50||Conflicts of Interest and Gifts: What Are the Rules of the Road||Matt Wright||Presentation|
|2:00-2:50||Stay in Your Lane, Bro (and Sis): School Board Governance/Oversight vs. School Staff Administration/Operations||Chris Thomas & Nikkie Whaley||Presentation|
|2:00-2:50||Immigration & Schools||Jessica Sanchez & Phil Ortega||Presentation|
|3:10-4:00||The End of the Four-Hour Block: What’s Next For English Language Learners||Kate Wright,|
|3:10-4:00||From the Desk Of The Auditor General: What We Look For When We Audit School Districts and How Boards Can Help||Vicki Hanson & Cris Cable||Presentation|
|3:10-4:00||We Hope You Enjoy Your Stay: Parents & Community Members Interacting On Your Campus And When It Becomes A Problem||Denise Lowell-Britt||Presentation|
|3:10-4:00||Vaping: The Law, Your Policies and Your Response?||Anne Carl,|
Nicole Olmstead &
Dr. Terry Rowles
|4:10-5:00||Legal Considerations of Educating Native American Students On and Off Tribal Lands||Patrice Horstman||Presentation|
|4:10-5:00||I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now: 20 Things Every Board Member Should Take To Heart||Julie Bacon &|
|4:10-5:00||Ransomware, Malware and Other Data Breaches: How Vulnerable Are School Districts?||Rob Haws &|
|4:10-5:00||Here We Go Again (On Our Own): School District Website Accessibility and OCR Enforcement||Kimberly Davis||Presentation|
|5:00-6:30||Law Firm Sponsored Reception|
|Friday, Sept. 6 8:00 am – 5:00 pm|
|8:00-8:10||Welcome, County Meetings Preview||Chris Thomas &|
|8:10-8:20||Message from Arizona Board of Regents||John Arnold|
|8:20 – 9:30||Keynote:The Gift of Failure: How Schools and Parents Can Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed||Jessica Lahey|
|9:50-11:00||Keynote: What Public Schools Can Do to Create Future Informed, Engaged Voters||Eric Liu|
|11:00-12:00||Stump the Lawyer||Ben Hufford, moderator|
|12:00-1:15||Lunch with State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman: Arizona Public Education 2019: Where Are We?||Kathy Hoffman, State Superintendent|
|1:15-2:05||The Unique Legal Challenges of Small and Rural Schools||Claire DeChambre &|
|1:15-2:05||Sorting Through the Student Assessment “Mess” and What Data to Use in Teacher Evaluations||Chris Kotterman,|
Alicia Williams &
|1:15-2:05||Student Fees and Tax Credits: What Are The Legal and Practical Guardrails?||Kristin Mackin &|
|1:15-2:05||School Land Use: Acquiring, Maintaining, Leasing and Selling Property||Steve Highlen,|
Jeff Stratman &
|2:15-3:05||Promoting Safety and A Positive School Climate||Erin Walz,|
|2:15-3:05||Responding to Public Records Requests, Subpoenas and Other Legal Inquiries||Lindsay Oliveras &|
|2:15-3:05||School District Consolidation/Unification: What Are The Options?||Nathan Schott,|
Chuck Essigs &
|2:15-3:05||The Law of Career and Technical Education||Tina Norton &|
|3:05-3:25||Break/Ice Cream Social|
|3:25-4:15||ASBA Delegate Assembly Preview||Sam Richard,|
Chris Kotterman &
|3:25-4:15||First Amendment at the Board Meeting||Jordan Ellel||Presentation|
|3:25-4:15||Let’s Talk About Sex (Education): What Does The Law Say?||Candy Pardee &|
|3:25-4:15||What Board Members Should Know ABout Special Education||Kacey Gregson||Presentation|