By Melissa Fernandez
I was heartened to read Gary Tripp’s letter in the Rio Rancho Observer. His good ideas for improving our schools were a much-needed antidote to Patrick Monroe Brenner’s willfully ignorant screed published the week before.
No, critical race theory is not taught in the Rio Rancho public school system. This extremist talking point is the latest weapon in the right wing’s mission to further divide us and hobble public education.
As loathsome as Brenner’s attack is, those with the fortitude to follow his Twitter pronouncements are not surprised. Brenner’s Twitter feed is brimming with odious tweets, but those most dangerous for our schools include his casting doubt on masking, especially for children, and his false claims that healthy children will not need to be vaccinated because their death rate from COVID is zero.
He also tweeted that the PED (New Mexico Public Education Department) should be defunded. The motto that he tweets, “fund students, not systems,” is a euphemism for starving our public schools.
It doesn’t end with assaults on education. He also asserts there is no such thing as good government, proudly declares himself a misogynist, and calls President Biden a domestic terrorist for imposing vaccine mandates.
I find his enjoyment of posing with an assault rifle troubling, as well, especially given the high levels of gun violence and youth suicide in New Mexico.
Attacks on educators have escalated since the pandemic. Hostilities have gotten so intense that Last Sunday’s Observer thought it important to reprint an article from the Rio Rancho Public Schools newsletter to parents about the problem. It cataloged the violence and insults to which school employees have been subjected throughout the pandemic and pleaded for civility.
Brenner’s diatribes do nothing but provoke rancor and hate. Rio Rancho needs clear and responsible ideas such as Tripp’s that will benefit students and bring our community together, not further destructive culture wars.