SISTERSVILLE, W. Va. – Tyler County Board of Education President Bonnie Henthorn pulled her children out of local schools during Christmas break.
“The ‘President’ of the Tyler County, WV Board of Education has decided her children should only learn about Christianity and creationism and know nothing about evolution, science, or other world religions,” read a petition posted to Change.org by local Kevin Andrew.
“That is her choice to make; however, that choice shows her lack of commitment to the children of Tyler County and the residents she serves. Tyler County Schools have always been a shining star in education for the State of West Virginia and the Ohio Valley,” the petition continues.
“If this school system is not ‘fit’ to prepare her children for higher education or life in general, then she is not fit to lead that system or receive money from the county. She should resign immediately.”
Petitioners are upset because Henthorn gets paid $160 per meeting to help oversee a school system her children no longer attend. Henthorn told the Charleston Gazette-Mail she doesn’t plan on resigning, and explained the very rational reasons for her decision.
Henthorn doesn’t like the fact that the district teaches students evolution but ignores creationism, and she takes issue with education standards imposed by the state and federal government that seemingly promote a left-leaning agenda.
Henthorn objects to her children learning about the Five Pillars of Islam and Buddhism without an equally thorough Christian counterweight. She’s also worried about the impending national standards for social studies after witnessing significant problems with math and English Common Core standards pushed by the federal government in recent years, the Gazette-Mail reports.
Henthorn criticized state policies and education leadership – and called out State Board of Education President Michael Green by name – when she announced her decision.
The mother of two told the news site she’s planning to homeschool her kids using an online Christian-based curriculum, and some of her fellow board members seem very supportive of the move.
Board member Scott Strode said at a meeting last week that he would “more than likely” send his own kids to a private or Christian school if he had the resources, and board member P.J. Wells said he seriously considered homeschooling his son when he started school four years ago, according to the site.
“This is the best that the state will let us have, let’s put it that way,” Wells said of the school system, “because the state mandates what we can teach them.”
Evolution is out, but Muslims are in, he said.
“You’re allowed to teach about anything that happens with the Muslims,” Wells said. “They want us to believe that we evolved from apes, which we didn’t.”
The two other members of the five-member board disagree with Henthorn’s choice.
Henthorn said she won’t give up the last two years of her term just because her kids no longer attend district schools.
“I also represent the multitude of people who are not connected with the school system who are concerned where their tax money goes,” she said, declining to speculate on whether she’ll run for another term.
The board selects new officers in July, according to the news site.
The Tyler Star News reports state school board president Green issued a statement – through a spokeswoman – in response to Henthorn’s comments.
“The separation of church and state is well-established constitutional tenant,” he said. “The west Virginia Board of Education respects this distinction while recognizing it is the role, right, and responsibility of a parent to choose the educational setting that best serves his or her child.”
Henthorn then issued a counter statement.
From the Tyler Star News:
Speaking as a parent, I recognize the separation of church and state and understand those limits upon public school. That is but one of the reasons that I have chosen a different path for my children that includes a more Christian worldview along with traditional academics as contrasted to current education reforms.
As Board President Green has stated, this is my role as a parent to choose. My work on the board consists of representing everyone in Tyler County, not just students and staff, as we all have a stake in education. I have said many times that if your kids are in public school (rather than a Christian school), they should be in Tyler County because of the dedicated and caring teachers and staff.