Do you know who is speaking to your kids at school? Teachers, administrators, their friends; maybe an activist who is facing both felony and misdemeanor drug charges. Wait, what?
Indeed, one of these things is not like the others, but that was the case at Sky Vista Middle School in Denver recently. Parents were upset to find out after the fact that a social justice "peace activist" going by the name Queen Phoenix (real name Dezy Saint-Nolde) came to speak to sixth graders. The teacher of the class, Asia Lyons, is now on administrative leave while the district conducts "an investigation into a possible policy violation related to instructional materials." If they aren't sure this is a violation of the policy, the purpose of which is to engage students in real-world learning, they need to change the policy. People with charges pending should not be allowed into the classroom without parental consent. However, the school district told Denver 7 that there is no such rule in place regarding people with criminal records unless the speaker in question is a sex offender.
“We feel like the district and school have let the families down,” said one parent.
"Topics such as suicide and police brutality were dumped on our children and not age-appropriately explained," a father added. "These children are 11 years old."
Another parent said that Queen Phoenix made inappropriate political statements: “We parents put the trust in every person that enters Sky Vista. That trust has been broken by Ms. Lyons for allowing a speaker who goes by the name Queen Phoenix to enter Sky Vista and speak to the students,” said Michael Grube, a parent of two children at the school. “What do you say to your children when they come home and say that Ms. Lyons said you don’t have to stand for the pledge of allegiance because that would be showing you support Donald Trump?”
At least two people, including a former student, came to the defense of Lyons. A fellow Cherry Creek School District teacher stated, “As a teacher of color in this district, it's important that we support each other especially if we are one of only in our buildings." It sounds like she's supporting her choice of speaker based on the teacher's race, not actually based on her choice of speaker, so this isn't really a ringing endorsement.
Of course, all of this had us wondering — who is Queen Phoenix? She is facing felony and misdemeanor drug charges related to gifting marijuana for suggested donations and claims that the charges have been brought against her to keep her from protesting. She was arrested in December in a Starbucks parking lot conducting one of these drugs for money transactions with an undercover police officer. Other higlights of her last year include being an organizer the November 10 protest against President Trump's election, which blocked downtown rush-hour traffic, and the March to Demand Russia-Trump Ties Investigation among others.
The school district says they hope to have a decision soon on whether they will let Ms. Lyons back into the classrooms. Another teacher said any parents that are upset are just displaying white privilege. We say schools need to stop thinking it's their job to raise kids and get back to educating them and we wouldn't have these problems. Teach them facts and send them home. Why does this class even exist?