An occasional interview series with Americans who are challenging the status quo.
Picking fights with lawyers and Green Berets can be a bit risky, and that is doubly true when one of them has extensive experience with totalitarian tactics.
Gordana Schifanelli is a lawyer married to a former Army special forces officer, and what’s more, she grew up in a Communist household in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. All of which makes for a powerful opponent in what has shaped up as a battle on Maryland’s Eastern Shore between forces of wokeness in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools and some concerned parents.
“It’s totalitarian, what they’re doing, so I know it,” she said. “I was in the middle of a NATO bombing and barely survived. Now you want to tell me I’m a racist? Whatever.”
The battle began in June, when Superintendent Andrea M. Kane sent a letter to parents filled with attaboys for environmental improvements in the schools and news about the coronavirus, which had forced them all to close. Sandwiched in between, however, was a lengthy screed about systemic racism, the righteousness of Black Lives Matter and the frightening news that the schools in that sleepy community were infested with racism.
While Ms. Kane, who is Black, voiced her concerns in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Mrs. Schifanelli was appalled on many levels. For starters, who might be responsible for this terrible environment?
“Who’s racist? Where is this racism in our schools? I’m sending my kids into some rampant, festering racist place?” she said. “I think Black parents would also want to know who is being racist at school.”
In addition, Mrs. Schifanelli objected to the lecture from a government worker who she believed should be focused on educating her children rather than broader social issues that her 11-year-old didn’t really understand.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.