From Temecula to Orange, the Normal People Rise Up!

Normal people, normal parents, don’t lose sleep worrying about their kids finding out at school that gay and trans people exist and have rights. No matter what crazy unverified scare-stories the culture warriors tell them.

Normal people, normal parents, don’t see a big problem with their kids being taught that some bad things happened in our nation’s history, that a lot of bad things happened to dark people and some bad things were done by some white people. And this is not the dread “Critical Race Theory,” which is only taught to college students who are interested in it. These normal parents aren’t too keen on books being banned either.

And the fact that there were mask mandates and school closures a few years ago during our biggest pandemic outbreak in a century is something normal parents hardly think about any more, and mostly didn’t have a big problem with at the time, let alone blame it on some sinister government conspiracy. They’re just glad they and their kids survived those years.

But those are the main, burning issues to the many Culture Warriors who got elected in low-turnout School Board elections in recent years, and they have been busy making spectacles of themselves and their school districts ever since. Engrossed in their crusades, most of these Culture Warriors have never before shown any interest or had any experience in EDUCATION. And as they are disbelievers in government, blowing public money on doomed lawsuits and other fools’ errands, losing state funding, and breaking the law, are NO BIG DEAL to them.

So it’s good to see, from Temecula to Orange and doubtless many other places, the normal people and parents (of all political Parties) rising up to take back their school boards. In the name of sanity, good education, and fiscal responsibility. Let’s start with this Politico piece that came out last week…

Ah, beautiful Temecula, a mere 50 miles inland from the OC! Home to so many good people, and stomping grounds of evangelical pastor Tim Thompson of neighboring Murietta’s “412 Church,” who’s been crying out in the wilderness for years that “government-ran [sic] schools are Satan’s Playground!When no other Southern California venue would host the traitorous Marjorie Taylor Greene, it was Pastor Tim’s 412 Church that welcomed her.

Fervently opposed to the separation of church and state, sickened unto death at the very thought of sex education… but these pathologies were mere co-morbidities waiting to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 Pastor Tim got himself arrested in Sacramento protesting lockdowns, and later when Temecula’s Board of Education wouldn’t pass his anti-masking resolution, he vowed to have them replaced.

Which he accomplished through his church, his money, his radio show “Our Watch,” and his Inland Empire Family PAC, getting three Culture Warriors NARROWLY ELECTED last year in a low-turnout election. (And shame on Normal People for not taking school boards seriously and not “voting down-ballot.” We can only hope they’re learning.)

First thing this new Board majority did was pass a resolution condemning the dread “Critical Race Theory,” which never existed in Temecula schools, but sure got them invited onto Fox and Friends! Which encouraged them to also spend district money hiring an outside consultant just to preach, pointlessly, against CRT! Emboldened, they next rejected a social-studies curriculum that included a half-page bio of Harvey Milk, calling the martyred gay civil-rights hero a “pedophile.” Normal people started to get upset, and a civil rights complaint was filed against the board.

But the final straw was when, following the lead of the nearby Orange USD (which we’ll look at below), they fired the district’s very popular and successful Superintendent, for no reason. And a recall movement was born. From Politico:

“We don’t want culture wars. We don’t want Fox News appearances,” Temecula’s Alex Douvas, a parent of two kids in the district who previously worked for two Republican congressmembers in Orange County, told the board recently. “Our schools are not ideological battlegrounds. They’re not platforms for religious evangelism. These are institutions for learning and growth.”

The religious right saw an opening to jump into the parental rights movement amid intense backlash about pandemic-era school closures and mask mandates. But those policies have all but disappeared in schools, and it’s proving harder to sustain that level of outrage over teachings on race and gender. The effort to ban certain books and challenge curriculum has split Republicans and polled poorly with independent voters nationally.


The Politico piece on Temecula briefly refers to the controversies over at nearby Orange USD, and the parallels are striking – three-member Culture Warrior majorities that BARELY won in low-turnout votes. Boards that outraged the public and blew wads of money firing popular successful Superintendents for no reason. And notably, both takeovers were engineered by local evangelical preachers. Just as Pastor Tim Thompson can boast of getting a Culture Warrior majority in Temecula, in Orange (and Anaheim Hills) we have Chino megachurch pastor Jack Hibbs to thank for the current unhingedness.

The pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, with even more radio coverage than Thompson with his “Real Life” program, Jack Hibbs has always been especially concerned that the existence of homosexuality is a sure sign of the End Times – because just think – those sodomites don’t procreate! So it could NOT have been in existence until just recently or humanity would already have perished, can’t you see? He illustrates this theory with films of ELKS mating, particularly focusing on the phenomenon of the biggest male elk beating up the smaller male elks, and then impregnating all the females – apparently an invaluable object lesson for us humans!

You may say to yourselves, can’t these evangelical pastors be content just telling their vast congregations how to live, and keep their hands off our public school boards? Pero NO. Hibbs looked 30 miles southwest, and saw in OUSD, which already had two Culture Warriors on board (Rick Ledesma & John Ortega), a school board ripe for the plucking. He’d just need to get ONE MORE elected.

And he found his candidate in “parents’ rights advocate” Madison Miner. History in the district? Well, 22 years ago when Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church came to protest against OUSD’s gay-straight alliance, Madison’s parents Fran and Bill Klovstad stood side-by-side with them. Not falling far from the tree, Madison’s biggest nightmares are about “gender ideologies,” and the supposed inability of parents to opt their kids out of sex ed – that’s what she means by the catchphrase “parents’ rights.” (Actually, under California education code, parents can opt kids out of a lot of sex ed, but they can’t opt them out of lessons about gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. But that’s not up to local school boards.)

Like most of these Culture Warriors taking over our public school boards, Madison sends her own kids to a private charter school, OC Classical Academy, which is directed by extremist Dr. Stefan Bean. Dr. Bean ran last year against incumbent OC Superintendent of Education Al Mijares, a moderate Republican, and Mijares clobbered him – Bean’s outrageous claim that public schools teach “inappropriate sexual matters” to kindergarteners, which he could never substantiate, was too extreme for the OC Register, which endorsed Mijares.

But Madison made it, barely squeezing by with a 111-vote margin, and the new OUSD majority got right to work “making a laughingstock of the district.” First thing they did (and the most controversial and wasteful so far) was to fire their longtime and well-regarded Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen. They did this at a hastily-convened “special meeting” in January, they GAVE NO REASON, and Hansen and her thousands of supporters in the district were blindsided. Weird. Not long before, Board President Ledesma had raved (accurately) about Hansen:

“Her leadership team delivered a positive audit report to continue the stellar OUSD fiscal reputation. Dr. Hansen is a highly regarded visionary who will take OUSD to the next level. She is dedicated to the Orange community, committed long-term, and the Board of Education has great confidence in her abilities.”

– Board Chairman Rick Ledesma, who shortly later voted to fire Hansen for no cause.

What happened since then, Rick? Are you following someone else’s orders now? This decision not only pissed off thousands of Hansen’s admirers, it’s cost the district a million dollars so far. The Board hired a replacement, some guy from Idaho, who stayed for two weeks, couldn’t handle the dysfunction, and hightailed it back to Idaho – THAT cost the district $75,000, and the district STILL doesn’t have a Superintendent. And these clowns ran on “cutting wasteful spending.” Dr. Hansen is fine, the Westminster School District snatched her right up.

This piece is getting long enough, but there are plenty of more reasons that voters in the district are launching a recall of Ledesma and Miner, which you can read here; if you live in that district you should sign up as well. Signatures are being gathered now. The district includes Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim Hills, Silverado, and parts of Garden Grove and Santa Ana.

(Miner/Ledesma ally John Ortega has his own ethical problems, but he is up for re-election next year, so somebody should run against him and beat him in ’24. As things SHOULD work when voters are paying attention.)

Recalls are a drastic measure, and there’s such a thing as Recall Fatigue these days, but this blog supports the recall of Ledesma and Miner as timely and necessary. But over the long haul, the public needs to start taking school board races more seriously. And candidates who really care about quality education need to make it clear how they differ from the Culture Warriors they are running against, and what those people’s innocuous slogans (like “parents’ rights,” which everybody supports) really signify. For, to paraphrase that great father of conservatism Edmund Burke,

“The only thing necessary for madness to triumph is for normal people to do nothing.”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.