Opinion: Stand up to bullies trying to recall school board members

There’s holding elected officials accountable.

And then there’s bullying.

Holding elected officials accountable is about voting them out in the next election and providing civil communications expressing your opinion.

Bullying is trying to recall volunteer elected officials for doing their job thoughtfully. It’s conducting a recall in a mean, blatantly disrespectful way that includes lies and cherry-picked soundbites.

But, unfortunately, bullying seems to be the value our community currently upholds. It’s disappointing and, frankly, disgusting.

Our District 91 School Board members have attempted to make impossible decisions during a tough time — and do so — in a thoughtful manner. They did what they could to open schools as safely as possible, following Centers for Disease Control guidelines and considering science.

Instead of working together, bullies are pushing to remove two of our District 91 School Board members. One, Elizabeth Cogliati, is the subject of a recall on Tuesday. The other, Lara Hill, will likely be on the ballot after a lawsuit was filed insisting that signatures, originally ruled invalid on the recall petition, be ruled valid instead.

We’re dealing with a very vocal minority intent on bullying in the name of “freedom.” They dismiss science and thoughtfulness and claim to “support” education, even while pushing policies locally and statewide that would leave our public education system in shambles.

We claim that education is the most important thing to us, yet we continue to allow state policymakers to make budgets that ensure that we can’t even keep up with maintenance without passing supplemental levies. At the north end of the state, there are elements actively campaigning against a regular supplemental levy. How long before these extremists start using the same tactics in southeast Idaho?

Rather than adequately funding education in a uniform manner, as dictated by the Idaho Constitution, our so-called leaders insist that they give another tax cut to top earners and leave school districts to fend for themselves against an increasingly vocal minority of bullies. This is part of a coordinated effort across the state to grab power from the people and sabotage our public education system.

Let’s not mince words. The people leveling invective at our school board members — unpaid volunteers doing the best they can — are bullies. Plain and simple. They seek to intimidate. They expect their victims to be polite and take their abuse, and when anyone fights back, they turn around and cry about incivility.

In truth, their actions, their lies, their intimidations, their videos, their insults against our institutions and processes, are the real incivilities. They are uncivil, seeking to tear down public education, a cornerstone of civil society.

We’re at a crossroads in Idaho Falls and Bonneville County. Are we ready to stand up to the bullies and protect those who are doing their jobs at their best? It’s time for us to stop paying lip service to education. It’s time for us to protect those who serve thoughtfully. It’s time to tell the bullies we’re done letting them dictate terms and control the conversation.

If you live in Zone 4 of School District 91, vote against the recall.

Miranda Marquit, Master of Business Administration, is a nationally recognized financial expert, writer and speaker. She is the state committeewoman for the Bonneville Democratic County Central Committee.