Following up with our endorsement of Cheryl Williams for Edmond School Board, Place 2, we are pleased to announce that we have formally endorsed Michael Grande for Edmond School Board, Place 5.
Michael has been at the forefront of the parent’s rights movement in Edmond from the first shutdown during Covid all the way to now. Following EPS shutdown after the 2020 Spring Break, the Grande’s formed protest groups to try to force the schools back open.
He has since become one of the fiercest advocates in the Parent’s Voice – Edmond group on Facebook, and helped steer the successful lawsuit against the EPS School Board’s unequal treatment of unvaccinated students following the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
He and his wife have 5 kids: 1 in the district, 1 at private school, with the 3 youngest being homeschooled. It is that very diversity of educational experiences that uniquely equip Grande to solve the complex problems the district faces by drawing on the best experiences from all three educational worlds.
We sat down for a phone call with Michael last week to get his thoughts on some of the challenges facing the district. What follows is that conversation.
IL: What are the biggest things about the district that need to change:
MG: First, we need to take a very serious look at the curriculum, particularly the explicit and pornographic material that is available to the students through their classroom reading programs. We need to get back to mastering the basics of education: reading, writing, and math. But we need to do more than just master it in order to graduate. We need to strive for an unconscious competency from every single one of our students.
Second, we need to do a much better job in preparing our students for success right out of high school. High school has to be much more than just college prep. We need to prepare each of our students to succeed in whatever they’re passionate about right after graduation. We need to teach business management. We need to inspire them to embrace technological innovation like blockchain technology. We need to teach our kids how to build their own brand and monetize it, whether it be professional gaming, or preparing our student athletes to make the most of the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deals available to them after the graduate. This can be an exciting, thrilling time for our students. If we help them be successful in what they’re passionate about it will help ignite their love of learning that will last a lifetime.
Last, but probably the most important is that we need to get the parents back involved with the district. It’s not that they don’t want to be involved. They do. In fact, they’re practically standing at the gates of the district demanding to be more involved. Our current school board, which has been in office for 25 years plus, has simply shut them out. We need parents involved in the classroom, in the lunchroom, on the playgrounds, and even walking the halls. No one cares more about the success of the students and the district than the parents. No one. We are shutting out one of our greatest assets as a district for no reason whatsoever.
If we want to attract and retain the best teachers in the state, we need to create an atmosphere that rewards their passions and efforts. Tackling these three main issues will accomplish just that. It’s truly a win-win-win.
IL: How should the district be handling Covid?
MG: We have way overstepped our bounds as a district. Every decision about a child’s health is the parent’s decision. Period. Schools have the responsibility to protect children from physical violence, but have absolutely no authority to make decisions about the children’s health care without first getting consent from the parents…whether it’s masks, vaccines, social distancing, or any other aspect of handling Covid.
We also should not be sending kids home to quarantine based on a positive from home testing or rapid testing. It should be from a physician-confirmed positive test, only.
IL: In regards to CARES Act funding that the district has received, would you vote to accept any Federal funding that required employee, staff, or student vaccination as a requisite?
MG: Absolutely not! In fact, I would vote to send back any Federal funding if any such strings were attached. But more importantly, I would have been much more transparent with the parents about any stipulations tied to the funding and given them a voice as to whether we as a district accepted it.
IL: How would you improve school safety?
MG: I would first sit down and discuss our school safety protocols with the Edmond PD to see if there’s anything we can do better as a district. Then I would work with them to implement any such measures. We need to send a clear message to our students that personal responsibility is expected at Edmond Public Schools. If we create an environment that inspires our kids to be their best and pursue their passions while equipping them for success, it will be much easier to create an environment where personal responsibility is expected and rewarded.