Three members of the Temecula Valley Unified School District face recall effort after voting to reject social studies curriculum

Welcome to the Monday, August 7, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Three members of the Temecula Valley Unified School District face recall effort after voting to reject social studies curriculum
  2. Constitutional amendment to provide state right to abortion will be on November 2023 ballot in Ohio
  3. Biden issues executive orders on courts-martial rules and domestic manufacturing in July

Three members of the Temecula Valley Unified School District face recall effort after voting to reject social studies curriculum

Three members of a Southern California school district board are facing a recall effort after they voted against adopting a textbook for elementary school students. 

The board members facing the recall effort are Joseph Komrosky, Jennifer Wiersma, and Danny Gonzalez of the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Education. One Temecula Valley Political Action Committee, which says it was formed “in response to a very real and dangerous threat to local governance posed by political and religious extremist views,” is leading the recall effort.

The Temecula Valley Unified School District is the 32nd largest school district in California, with an estimated enrollment of about 28,000 students.

According to our database, there have been an average of 34 recall efforts aimed at 80 school board members each year between 2009 and 2022. A total of 218 school board members included in the efforts faced recall elections, and 136 were removed from office. So far this year, there have been 36 efforts against 66 officials. Click here to see more of the school board recall elections we’ve covered.  

The effort in Temecula comes less than a month after the board voted 3-2 against adopting a new social studies textbook for use in the district’s 18 elementary schools. The Teachers Curriculum Institute (TCI) publishes the textbook, and it is one of four supported by the State Board of Education. 

Komrosky, Wiersma, and Gonzalez voted against adopting the curriculum, while Allison Barclay and Steven Schwartz voted in favor of doing so. The vote took place on May 22. 

Komrosky and Gonzalez said they did not agree with the mentions of Harvey Milk in the textbook’s supplemental materials. Komrosky called Milk a pedophile in reference to a report that Milk had a relationship with a 16-year-old when he was 33.

Wiersma said she didn’t “want [her] 3rd grader studying an LGBTQ issue.” She also said the process of choosing a textbook did not have enough input from parents.

The district had previously been using a textbook that was out of compliance with the FAIR Act, a 2011 state law requiring districts to teach the history of, among other subjects, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.”

The One Temecula Valley Political Action Committee PAC served the three members with a notice of intention to recall them on June 13. The PAC said: “We understand that the chaos created by these board members has caused concern and frustration within our community. Therefore, we are taking action to ensure that our schools can move forward in a positive direction.”

Recall supporters must collect signatures equal to 10% to 30% of registered voters, depending on the jurisdiction’s population, and have 40 to 160 days to do so, depending on the size of the jurisdiction.

The board reviewed the textbooks again on July 18 and again voted 3-2 to reject them. After the second vote, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the state would fine the district $1.5 million for violating state law and send it copies of the textbook, charging an additional $1.6 million to cover shipping. 

After Newsom’s announcement, the board voted 4-0 to approve the new curriculum on July 21. The vote, however, postponed one supplemental lesson on the gay rights movement for fourth graders, pending further review. Wiersma and Komrosky voted with the other board members to approve the curriculum. Gonzalez was absent.

Gonzalez, Wiersma, and Komrosky were elected to four-year terms on the board in November 2022. The Inland Empire Family PAC, which says its goal is to “support conservative candidates who will stand for parental rights,” endorsed all three board members.

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Constitutional amendment to provide state right to abortion will be on November 2023 ballot in Ohio

Ohio voters will decide a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment on abortion and other reproductive decisions on Nov. 7, 2023. 

Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced on July 25 that the campaigns supporting the initiative had submitted 495,938 valid signatures (out of 710,131 gathered). This exceeded the valid signature requirement of 413,487 signatures and qualified the measure for the ballot.

The amendment would provide that “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy. It would allow the state to prohibit abortion after fetal vitality, and prohibit the state from banning abortion when it comes to protecting the life or health of the pregnant patient.

The Ohio amendment is the first and only statewide abortion measure certified for the ballot this year. Two more—in Maryland and New York—are currently set for 2024. Similar amendments have been proposed in Florida, Missouri, and South Dakota and may appear on the 2024 ballot.

In 2022, California, Michigan, and Vermont became the first states to adopt constitutional amendments establishing a right to abortion. 

Back in Ohio, Lauren Blauvelt of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the coalition leading the initiative, said, “The people of Ohio overwhelmingly support abortion access and keeping the government out of our personal lives. This citizen-led amendment will do just that: through our deep community partnerships and long history of protecting reproductive freedom and providing access to healthcare, this campaign puts the power back in the hands of the people of Ohio, so everyone has the freedom to prevent, continue, or end a pregnancy should they decide.”

Protect Women Ohio, the campaign leading the opposition to the amendment, said, “Using the label ‘reproductive freedom,’ the abortion industry wants to bring taxpayer funded abortion at any time during pregnancy, including beyond the point at which an unborn baby can feel pain, to Ohio. Their proposal would outlaw protections for the most vulnerable and would eliminate basic health and safety regulations in place to protect women.”

Under current law, the amendment would need a 50% simple majority in order to pass on Nov. 7. However, if voters approve Issue 1 on Aug. 8, which would require a 60% vote to amend the Ohio Constitution, the abortion rights amendment would require a 60% supermajority to be approved.

Another ballot measure, a marijuana legalization initiative, may also appear on the November 2023 Ohio ballot. The initiative campaign originally fell short of the required number of valid signatures, but had 10 days to gather more. On Aug. 3, the initiative campaign submitted an additional round of 6,545 signatures to the secretary of state. The initiative needs at least 679 (10.4%) of those signatures to be valid in order to qualify for the ballot. 

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Biden issues executive orders on courts-martial rules and domestic manufacturing in July

President Joe Biden (D) issued two executive orders in July, the 118th and 119th of his presidency.

The two orders he issued were:

  1. Executive Order on 2023 Amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (July 28, 2023)
  2. Executive Order on Federal Research and Development in Support of Domestic Manufacturing and United States Jobs (July 28, 2023)

Biden issued 25 executive orders in January 2021, more than any other month of his presidency. He did not issue any executive orders in November 2022 or January 2023.

Biden is averaging 46 executive orders per year, tied with Bill Clinton (D) for the third-most among presidents since 1981. Donald Trump (R) averaged 55 executive orders per year, the most in that time. Barack Obama (D) averaged 35 per year, the fewest in that time.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) issued 307 executive orders per year on average, the most of all U.S. presidents. William Henry Harrison (Whig) issued no executive orders during his one month in office. Three presidents issued only one executive order each: James Madison (Democratic-Republican), James Monroe (Democratic-Republican), and John Adams (Federalist).

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