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LETTERS/ Re: Published Response from Mr. Jay Fenwick on August 22nd, 2022

Dear Editor,

In two prior Letters to the Editor of High Country Press (on August 10 and August 22), I raised serious and specific concerns about the “woke” educational materials and methods currently being used in the Watauga County Schools.  I described many specific facts to support my specific concerns, but I neither named or criticized anyone personally. 

But I note Jay Fenwick’s August 22 response in High Country Press. Mr. Fenwick is a current incumbent on the Watauga Board of Education.  Board Member Fenwick asserted (among other falsehoods) that I had personally only advanced “…a number of general fears, primarily voiced in more extremist information-entertainment venues.”  

To set the record straight, I am a registered independent voter, resident, and property taxpayer in Watauga County.  I have never met or talked with Board Member Fenwick.  I have no affiliations or alliances with any “extremist” parties or individuals.   I have spoken publicly about educational issues only twice in front of the Watauga Board of Education, and now in my three letters to the High Country Press. Each time I carefully presented and described specific facts and evidence to support my concerns, which were hardly just “general fears,” nor were they “extremist.”  Yet Board Member Fenwick’s response in HCP reflexively attacked me personally and publicly, with fact-distorted, overly-emotional, and defamatory accusations of “extremism.”  He seems to have the same contempt for the “extremist” readers and publishers of the High Country Press, as an “information-entertainment venue.”  

Such personalized attacks are only too typical of many Progressive advocates of woke indoctrination and excessively “Social-Emotional” approaches to both life and learning.  In my private talks with parents in Watauga County, they often voice very justified fears of similar personal “cancelation” tactics (potentially against their children) if they merely voice their concerns.  These tactics are a profoundly inappropriate response by a Board Member to a citizen’s proper exercise of their 1st Amendment Rights of Freedom of Speech and to peaceably petition the government for a redress of grievances.  The name-calling needs to stop now.

I intend to formally submit a request to the Watauga County Board of Education to grant an Agenda Item for their September 12, 2022 meeting to publicly address the issues I am raising.  At that meeting I intend to present multiple specific examples of factual evidence and information to support my concerns. The Board of Education needs to accept accountability for the materials and teaching methods being used in this district.

I hope concerned parents and other members of the Watauga County community will attend that meeting and judge the facts and concerns I will raise for themselves.  I also continue to hope concerned parents in Watauga County will carefully monitor the materials assigned to their children, and discuss the goods and bads of those materials with their children’s teachers, and if necessary with school administrators and/or the Watauga Board of Education.

Mark A Murphy PhD, JDBlowing Rock North Carolina