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Four school board members in Mequon-Thiensville School District to face recall election

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MEQUON (WKOW) -- Four members of the Mequon-Thiensville school board are facing a recall election this November after community members collected more than 17,000 signatures across four petitions.

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Board members Wendy Francour, Akram Khan, Erik Hollander and Chris Schultz will be subject to recall elections November 2, pending official certification at a special school board meeting September 22.

According to Amber Schroeder, a parent in the district who has been involved throughout the recall effort, the recall is due to a variety of factors.

"The recall group cites declining academic scores, abdication of duties, and inaction around changing covid circumstances that have been detrimental to the district," Schroeder said in an email to 27 News.

According to the Recall MTSD School Board website, declining test scores and climbing tax levies are behind the recall. The website calls for "a new approach in a post-pandemic world" as well, despite still-climbing COVID-19 rates in the area.

The recall effort does not stand unopposed. According to the Support MTSD website, the academic decline represented by the recall effort does not reflect the reality of the district's standing.

"It is disingenuous to distort declines to make them appear steeper by comparing older end of year data to mid-year pandemic metrics or misrepresenting a small percentage as a large one in an infographic. It’s also worth noting that other measures have trended positively," the organization said on its FAQ page.

This recall effort has not occurred in a vacuum, as the push to replace these board members has come when COVID-19 regulations and "critical race theory" are hotly-debated topics at school board meetings across the country.

In an August blog entry titled "Did MTSD's pandemic response cause further academic decline?" an unnamed supporter of the recall effort spoke against masks in schools, along with the prevalence of other COVID mitigation efforts.

"Seeing a teacher’s face is vital to learning to read, understand, and pronounce words. These are crucial developmental stages. A teacher seeing a kid’s face is equally important. There have been zero studies on whether long-term masking is safe for the children," the post said.

According to the CDC, wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

In a separate post titled "Equity policies are CRT in practice", the recall effort decried critical race theory, an academic concept that has taken on a greater role in political discussion across the country. The blog post defines it as:

"The United States was founded on racism. Racism is a white concept, and only white people engage in and benefit from racism. Racism will never go away, ever. White people are inherently privileged because of racism and Black and other people of color are inherently and forever oppressed and victimized. Achieving racial justice and equality between racial groups requires a new form of discriminating against people based on their whiteness."

This is a deviation from the academic definition of critical race theory, which was first established by Harvard professor Derrick Bell in the 1980s. According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, critical race theory is a school of thought that analyzes race and racism throughout history to better understand the concept of systemic racism.

It began as a concept thanks to Bell and other Black scholars of the time in response to what they saw as slow progress following the expansion of Black civil rights in the 1960s.

The goal of CRT studies, according to Purdue, is not to vilify white people but to understand the privileged position they hold in modern society. One of the main ways this concept applies itself is culturally, with the centering of white experiences and discarding of non-white experiences.

"Fields such as CRT and whiteness studies have focused explicitly on the concept of white privilege to understand how racism influences white people," Purdue said.