Darbi Boddy Gets the Sam Adams Award: What people want out of school boards

It was ironic to attend the Patriot Awards at the historic 20th Century Theater in Oakley, Ohio, to see Darbi Boddy get the Sam Adams Award for constitutional preservation and outstanding patriotism while the radical elements of Lakota schools were petitioning a judge in Butler County to remove her from the Lakota school board. Two different views of the world couldn’t be further apart. Since Darbi entered her first term as a school board member at Lakota, activated due to her concern for the way things had been going in public schools, the politically left-leaning elements of the union-controlled Lakota were irate toward her very existence. And they have been pushing to have her utterly destroyed. Yet, there are lots of people happy to see Darbi Boddy fighting on their behalf, and here they were on a Saturday night during Memorial Day weekend, giving her an award for doing exactly what was making the radical elements of Lakota so angry. Darbi received her award and gave a nice little speech that clearly indicated she wasn’t about to resign from the school board, as the school administration was pushing for her to do. At the heart of the matter was a battle for who really controls public schools, elected officials or hired administrators. And the hired administrators were obviously fighting to maintain their assumption that they were in control and that the elected members of the school board were just token sentiments. So the battle lines were drawn up in Lakota schools for an issue that had emerged to be a national one most clearly expressed in the newly elected Darbi Boddy.

The teacher unions have established themselves as being in charge of all public schools. There has evolved a kind of mutual understanding that nobody questioned so long as parents had the free babysitting service of public education. A superintendent would be inserted to be a mediator between the progressive radicals of the union and the school board elected by the public. As soon as school board members were elected, they’d join the Ohio School Board Association and would learn the rules of conduct that the public would see. And the labor unions would then advocate for a more progressive political world shielded by the superintendent, who would take over the management tasks from the school board. While the school boards worried about all the rules of their endeavor, the radical progressives in the labor unions were putting the focus on pay, benefits, and whether or not there were gay rights celebrated at the school, and all references toward God and country removed from the instruction of the children. I’ve been pointing these things out for several decades, and it’s taken people a while to accept these conditions as a reality. I knew at some point there was going to be a wall that the whole thing would hit; I figured it would happen during the Trump administration. But really, it took Covid to bring it out, as mad moms saw what was really going on in the classrooms because the lockdowns broke the cycle of free babysitting that had been occurring. Parents had time to think about how serious the problem really was in public education. 

For all those who hate Darbi Boddy, I can report that there are many like her out there. Darbi is one of the best that I’ve run across who may be able to save some aspects of public education because she genuinely cares about the school and the kids in it. And their parents. But the fight to go back to what labor unions used to have, a superintendent who would run cover for all their bad conduct and continue to ask for perpetual raises regardless of performance, is over. Getting rid of Darbi Boddy won’t put that mess back together; it was always destined to hit the wall of public perception. Darbi is just the first brick in that wall they’ve come in contact with. Like bell-bottoms and disco attire were come-and-go fashions from the 70s, this period of union control of public schools will be viewed as archaic and embarrassing in hindsight. The future of public education is not in the union’s control of them. Like all institutions that labor unions have controlled, they have driven them out of business because they insist on the organization’s management control. But they do not make management decisions; they make emotional ones, so their efforts fail everywhere they are tried, especially in public education. To hide their failure, they use the superintendent to hide their incompetence behind high wages and get the school boards to chase their tails through rules and regulations—something I call “procedural camouflage.” Well, that’s no longer acceptable, and taxpayers are finally figuring out the story with public schools; they aren’t worth the money, aren’t teaching kids the right things, and are open sores in their communities for progressive politics. While the school boards try to play by the rules, the crimes of public schools are hidden behind the rules. 

That is why there was so much anger at Darbi Boddy for immediately going around the rules to get to the heart of the matter, in challenging the power structure of the superintendent and his protection over his flock of unionized teachers. Within the culture of Lakota, of course, Darbi was hated. And voters cast in her favor because they wanted her to do that particular job. They wanted her to seek media attention to get the story out so that it couldn’t be contained within the structure of institutionalism and concealed from the view of voters. And while she was being vilified at school board meetings and in the halls of the schools the way most bosses are by incompetent employees, at the Patriot Awards, Darbi was getting applause for patriotism under fire and doing what many didn’t have the guts to do, stand up to the corrosive elements of public education and dare to ask questions that nobody wanted to answer. I tend to see Darbi Boddy as the best thing that has happened to Lakota schools. Public education, in general, is undergoing major changes. The labor unions will not be able to remain in control as they have been. Soon, the public money that the schools divide up like pirates after a robbery on the high seas will go to the kids. It will only take the next Republican presidential administration with a Republican-controlled House and Senate that will take the power of the Department of Education away completely, as Ronald Reagan had promised back in the early 80s. His failure to do that has caused much of the trouble we see today, which new politicians like Darbi are coming forth to challenge. Soon, it will gain national steam, and the political capital will be present to change the entire structure. There are already 1.5 million kids who stepped away from public education because of Covid. That number is increasing due to the obvious CRT teachings and the transgender politics that so many parents find objectionable as a public policy. Public schools have done it to themselves. Lakota will be glad that they had these disputes with Darbi early in the future. Maybe they can use this conflict to get in front of the inevitable, and Lakota can find a way to be relevant in the ways of the future. Holding on to the past where the unions ran everything, and the superintendents ran cover for the unions is over. And that wasn’t the fault of Darbi Boddy. She’s doing what the voters want.   Lakota schools were the ones caught going in the wrong direction.

Rich Hoffman

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