Uniting the community and restoring the Central Bucks School Board to a position of leadership that appreciates and embraces students from all walks of life are just two of the goals that Dana Foley intends to accomplish if she’s elected to represent Region 3 as a school board director.
While knocking doors on the campaign trail, Foley, a first-time candidate, remarked that she noticed a common sentiment from Buckingham residents regardless of their party affiliation.
“Everyone is fed up with the antics in this school district. I think they’re embarrassed,” she said.
Foley, a nurse practitioner, sees cooperative (rather than combative) school board conversations as the key to a school district’s success and progress.
“We can work together. I work in healthcare with plenty of people who have opposing political beliefs from me,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be divisive. You can have your own moral framework and belief system and still come together and do what’s right for people.”
Recent news concerning the Central Bucks School District might indicate that doing the right thing for students and faculty hasn’t been a priority for the current board. The district has made headlines and been featured on television, radio, and even international media for all the wrong reasons.
Policy changes negatively impacting LGBTQ+ students and streamlining book challenges and censorship, that no one in Bucks County would have believed possible, erupted exponentially during and following the COVID pandemic.
READ: Today, Tomorrow, And Yesterday As A Transgender Youth – In Bucks County And Across The Country
“We were already a community so divided over masking policies. It was a perfect, a perfect opening for anybody with a platform that was built on fear to kind of come in and recruit like-minded individuals to try to build a base,” she said. “But it’s interesting, isn’t it that they, from a religious standpoint, they are pumping out hateful messaging.”
Lending credence to Foley’s observation was the board’s covert partnership with a conservative Christian law firm to assist in their policy making process. This wasn’t, however, just any religious legal counsel, it was the Independence Law Center.
As first reported by Chris Ullery of the Bucks County Courier Times, the Independence Law Center is an extension of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, that links to the Family Research Council, designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-Muslim stances.
In addition to the negative impact the board’s new policy changes have had on students, Foley also recognizes the toll it has taken on faculty.
“If you’re not creating a culture that feels supportive and inclusive, then you are not creating the environment for a young teacher coming out of school to want to work,” the candidate said. “I could argue that there is absolutely nothing being done at the school board level currently to make it [Central Bucks] an appealing place to work.”
Acknowledging what currently feels like nationwide acrimony, Foley believes the healing process can start with local elections, such as the school board race.
“You’ve got to speak up for what’s right. You’ve got to be willing to have conversations with people who are going to disagree with you,” Foley said. “It doesn’t mean you stop talking. It doesn’t mean you stop trying. We can come together and find a common area.”
In addition to establishing a path to mend the current divide within the community, Foley’s campaign also includes supporting students’ academic and personal growth, ending wasteful spending, promoting transparency, and the utilization of data-driven strategies.
Dana Foley has received endorsements from the Pennsylvania State Education Association, #VOTEPROCHOICE, the Buckingham Democrats, and CBSD Neighbors United.
Two Republicans are running against Foley in the upcoming May 16 primary: Glen Schloeffel and Patricia Carman.
The deadline to register to vote in the Pennsylvania primary is May 1. The last day to apply for a vote-by-mail or absentee ballot is May 9.