John Klar: A talk with Vermont parents about teachers

Essex Westford School District

Westford School teacher Jen Ellis is possibly best known for her collection of “Bernie Mittens,” a style of mittens that went viral when Sen. Bernie Sanders wore a pair at Inauguration Day 2021. However, as she recently wrote on her personal Facebook page, she believes “selfish people who are refusing to get vaccinated are keeping this pandemic going for the rest of us” — an opinion she directed at a parent in the district.

Vermont parents are pushing back against thug teachers and school superintendents — which is to say, they are beginning to defend themselves against unjust, often vicious attacks by those paid to serve them.

It has been interesting to watch the true thuggery of Vermont’s “public servants” revealed — entitlement babies who think they are guaranteed a job and income no matter how much they abuse students and parents. It may be time to rethink those pensions; if teachers want to wage war against parents, perhaps their jobs and pensions should be suspended when they violate their duty and lose public trust.

A recent example is revealed in an Essex Westford teacher who decided she held the royal power to denigrate Vermonters with false facts, and advocate to deprive children of rights to education using said ignorance. Teacher Jen Ellis, best known as the “Bernie’s Mittens” maker, recently initiated the following exchange on Facebook in response to a parent post that said “to each their own” regarding vaccinations:

Westford teacher Jen Ellis: “It’s not really to each their own bc the selfish people who are refusing to get vaccinated are keeping this pandemic going for the rest of us. In this case- you are your brother’s keeper- so we should never excuse the anti-vaxers.”

Local parent: “wow! … this is a very mean opinion. You’re the second grade teacher at Westford right? We moved here last year, but decided to homeschool this year … My heart hurts that you would think this of my family and children if we decided to go back next year, especially since this statement isn’t correct.”

Westford teacher Jen Ellis: “I am the 2nd grade teacher at Westford. … This however, is my personal Facebook account. It reflects my personal feelings and is not connected to my job as a schoolteacher. That said — I absolutely stand by what I said. I have no more patience for people who could be vaccinated and are choosing not to be — thereby putting the rest of us at risk. I also personally believe that children should not be allowed to attend public school in person if they’re not vaccinated and I believe video games should be outlawed. Teachers have all kinds of opinions like these that could be unpopular depending on who you ask. Luckily we are allowed to express our opinions in our personal lives without censorship.”

Touting the good luck that allows her to spew filth on Facebook, Ellis ignores that this is actually a constitutional protection — no luck at all. Her luck does not protect her though from violating the school’s ethics code, or answering to the public for spreading misinformation — everything she says in her toxic hate-rant against a shocked parent is built on fear and falsehood.

Vermonters are noticing that not all citizens have Jen’s “good luck” to express opinions — only progressives like Jen do. A state legislator who challenged the use of trans pronouns in grade schools was targeted for supposedly “doxxing” a teacher, because he shared the teacher’s public email address. A Vermont school principal who dared question the hate-mongering racism of Black Lives Matter was fired. A high school student in Essex-Westford who dared question CRT with facts was fired as a lifeguard, though the town absurdly paid him $5,000 to stay home all summer. Perhaps they should pay Jen Ellis to stay home as well, and protect parents and children from her unprofessional emotional instability. Instead, the Essex school administration has attacked truth-tellers like school board member Liz Cady — for claiming there is discrimination against unvaccinated Vermonters!

But no surprise — this parent’s understandable complaint to the school principal was rejected, as progressive administrations stick with the ideological errors of people like Ellis. Principal Marcie Lewis replied:

Thank you for reaching out to me directly concerning your concerns and worries that a Westford teacher’s personal Facebook post reflected harassing or discriminatory messages. … I did take the time to thoroughly read and reread our policies and expectations for teachers as well as the information you sent. After reviewing this information and consulting with our human resource department, I did not find the teacher comments to be in violation of our district harassment or discrimination policies. I would like to note that vaccination status is not a protected category within these policies and teachers do not know the vaccination status of our students. We do not censor personal opinions. However, we do expect employees to clearly separate personal opinions and make it clear they are speaking and acting as individuals and that they neither represent the school district nor the views of the Board. … We do expect employees to be alert to situations that may compromise the integrity or the confidence of the community in the school district. …  It is certainly my intent to cultivate and maintain a culture of mutual respect with our community including having employees refrain from social media posts that are blaming or humiliating to those with a difference of opinion.

The rule of law breaks down when it is not applied equally. Free speech in Vermont has succumbed to the crushing thuggery of “equity” — only far-left hate speech is tolerated; speaking the factual truth about history, race or vaccine science attracts horrible retribution. The Essex-Westford School District’s discrimination policy states:

Social Media. Employees must refrain from posting harassing or discriminatory messages about a coworker, supervisor, or student on line in any public forum. … employees will be held responsible for such comments under the District harassment and discrimination policies.

No they won’t be held accountable. Meanwhile, state Sen. Becca Balint is leading the push to incarcerate parents for up to five years for threatening people or “others” in “places of public accommodation.” This expanded penalty (threats against DCF workers are punished by a maximum of only two years) is a boldly unconstitutional attempt to silence parents yet more. S.265 seeks to remove criminal defenses for threatening “others” — but the Essex-Westford discrimination policy does not encompass Jen Ellis’ intolerable attack on “others” who are unvaccinated — only if they are a “coworker, supervisor, or parent.” The Constitution was created to shield Americans from precisely these kinds of shallow bureaucratic enslavements.

It is time Vermont parents stopped trying to talk to teachers and began just talking to each other about teachers. There are some terrific teachers in this state — but Jen Ellis demonstrates that some teachers are instead nasty and hate-filled, never to be trusted around young children. Is Ellis employing gender pronouns with the second-grade children entrusted to her care? How about critical race theory — is she experimenting with it? If she is willing to be this boldly hateful regarding her misinformed vaccine “opinions,” what horrors await children exposed to her daily?

It is telling that there is no legal protection of children’s vaccination status, but there is for teachers. This is consistent with vaccine immunity for pharmaceutical and telecommunications companies, while injured Americans have little if any recourse. It is consistent also with the upside-down domination of parents and children by Vermont’s oppressive bureaucratic school system, which is systemically discriminatory toward Vermont parents. The proof is in Jen Ellis’ Facebook post and the school’s predictable response.

The parent involved wrote this to me:

While I don’t believe in censorship and I feel this teacher is entitled to her opinion, I don’t believe as a public school teacher she is entitled to express it directly “to my face” over social media. To this day, the comment of Jenn Ellis saying the unvaccinated are selfish still stands on the original post which said “Im vaccinated, but to each their own.” Im confused about the double standard when it comes to opinions at the school. I know if it was an “antivax” opinion, it would have been taken down immediately and she would have had consequences. I’m also disturbed that vaccination status isn’t protected under discrimination policies at the school.

I have argued for years that Vermont has betrayed its state workers and teachers by inadequately funding the pensions system (a fraud also upon taxpayers, as this has racked up a now $6 billion debt). I have warned that failure to timely fund these pensions could lead to default, and that there is no legal mandate for the state of Vermont to honor pension guarantees. But now I wonder, and will talk to parents about whether that shortfall is perhaps a good thing — teachers who breach trust and ideologically abuse children without parental consent do not merit retirement pay. I do not advocate breaking promises to state employees; I point out that it is not a breach of contract to refuse to pay retirement benefits to employees who have breached their contract by violating public trust. Teachers can’t have it both ways: Either they work for parents and get paid, or they don’t and they can seek other employment. Ditto for superintendents and other bureaucratic deadwood — stifling parents’ opinions while imposing ideological indoctrination on them and their children is not being received well.

Many of these partisan zealots care more about their financial benefits than Vermont’s children. Perhaps if their jobs and future incomes were tied to their performance instead of guaranteed no matter how abusive they are, parents might have appropriate input into what their children are taught. In the interim, Vermonters enroll children in public schools at their own peril.

Teachers’ pensions should be imperiled instead. We the People actually have rights and power in Vermont. Let’s use both to restore fairness and law.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2022. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Essex Westford School District

5 thoughts on “John Klar: A talk with Vermont parents about teachers

  1. School choice is a start. To many students are being graduated and not meeting minimal state standards. This should be an indicator that the school management and the teachers don’t care enough to properly educate our kids. To many schools just give IEP’s to students who have to work hard to learn and graduate them as disabled. I dont see as high an IEP rate in any other state. Then the state and federal govt has to throw tons of money at these kids to get them caught up so they can function in society and get a job, otherwise they end up being supported with social programs paid by the taxpayer.

  2. Just allow all Vermonters their constitutional right to choose the education programs they believe best meet the needs of their children, using the same voucher already available in districts with School Choice tuitioning – as exampled in the current Vitale v. Vermont case in Superior Court. This is the crux of the lawsuit.

    “Plaintiffs do not demand the taxpayers of Vermont provide them with town tuitioning out of thin air, as the court in Mason said they had no right to,” wrote the parents’ lawyers, from the Liberty Justice Center, a conservative, Chicago-based nonprofit. “Rather, plaintiffs demand equal treatment: if the Legislature has chosen to allow town tuitioning for some students, then the education and common benefits clauses bar the Legislature from picking winners and losers and discriminating in favor of some children while denying the same opportunity to others.”

    With School Choice for all parents the dissension put forth by Westford School teacher Jen Ellis and others disappears.


    • Just follow the money.

      Pfizer expects $54 billion in 2022 sales on Covid vaccine and treatment pill – according to CNBC report.

  3. The schools “have been given access “ to the state Department of Health records regarding vax. Was mentioned on Scotts weekly briefing!

  4. Since there are vaccinated people who have been infected with C-19, we should be questioning the brain power of those saying the unvaccinated should be punished. The vaccinated who want to restrict others aren’t the sharpest pencils in the box.

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