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Our View: Boebert waded into politics at Dolores school

We strongly support students engaging in civic matters. But we’re uncomfortable with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s visit on Wednesday to Dolores High School because her talk ventured beyond governance into political territory.

As reported in The Journal and The Durango Herald online, the Dolores secondary school administration sent an email to parents on Monday, March 13, saying the congresswoman would visit students for a Q&A, and parents weren’t invited.

Like her or otherwise, Boebert is a polarizing politician. According to our latest news story, she spoke about “moral decay”; becoming aware of issues that could infringe on students’ rights; the Freedom Caucus, a conservative group of GOP representatives; and liberties infringed on during the pandemic. Apparently, she also told students they should know about those issues and let it motivate them to stand up for their freedom.

Come on! This is Boebert’s brand on stage in front of students without parents present.

Already, a red flag was raised in the email to parents, saying Boebert would share insight about serving in Congress, “and then highlight the unprecedented events which started the 118th Session of Congress.”

It’s suspect that “unprecedented events” were mentioned because they were highly political, with Boebert up front and center in the 15 rounds it took to elect Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.

Boebert and other conservatives demanded concessions in exchange for their support. Part of their leverage was insistence on assignments to select House committees, with Boebert scoring a spot on the Oversight and Accountability Committee.

Before McCarthy was elected speaker, Boebert told students that she and her colleagues demanded single-subject bills so separate agendas couldn’t be hidden or inserted into legislation. She’s already changed her mind, as reported in multiple news outlets, and is open to earmarked projects.

Boebert didn’t separate herself and her politics from the mechanics of government. Instead, she could have talked about her personal journey from a manager at McDonald’s to a representative in the hallowed halls of Congress. An inspirational story.

We reached out to Dolores High School Principal Justin Schmitt and Superintendent Reece Blincoe, asking whether other politicians representing the Southwest and Colorado would be invited to speak, but have not heard back by deadline. If Boebert is the sole speaker, there’s an appearance of a political statement or even an endorsement.

Some high-schoolers are of age to vote; others soon will be.

Before the assembly, some parents expressed concern about safety. It wasn’t that long ago – Oct. 3, 2022, to be exact – that Boebert said Durango schools had litter boxes for students who identify as cats at a Mesa County Republican Women’s luncheon. Parents had good reason to attend the assembly. More and more, parents are exercising their rights to know exactly what’s happening in school – public school, mind you.

Tom Burris, superintendent of Montezuma-Cortez School District, said he had previously received an email from Boebert’s team inquiring about an assembly with middle and high school students. Burris said he respectively declined, saying MCSD was “focusing energies on students in the classroom and academics.”

Burris said Boebert could visit with him and he’d give her a tour of schools, as he’s done with state Rep. Barbara McLachlan and Shelli Shaw, who ran for McLachlan’s seat and is now chair of the La Plata County Republican Central Committee.

Karla Sluis, public information officer for Durango School District 9-R, had not heard from Boebert’s team. She has heard that teachers and students value critical thinking and discussion around political issues. Sluis said the district also aligns with Colorado Department of Education; promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; and provides regular bathrooms for students – all without a single nugget of kitty litter.