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Outgoing Republican Pennridge School Board Scheduled To (Finally) Terminate Vermilion Education Contract

After months of unanswered pleas from parents and teachers, it took a Democratic sweep at the polls on Election Day for the school board to finally get the message.

Monday evening’s Pennridge school board meeting agenda includes a long-awaited event: a motion to terminate the Vermilion Education contract. 

Jordan Adams and his consulting firm, Vermilion Education, burst onto the Pennridge scene in April when a contract to revamp the district’s history courses was forced upon students, parents and teachers.

It’s hard to fathom the amount of chaos created by five board members and a supposed curriculum “specialist” with no teaching degree who intended to whitewash historic events in an attempt to deprive Pennridge students of a fact-based education.

Accompanying Adams’ departure is one final report he prepared that, if anyone has ever questioned his true intentions, lays bare an objective to infiltrate grades K-12 with right-wing ideology.

Adams’ exit follows November’s election of five new board directors who, when campaigning, were outspoken about Adams’ distorted view of the world and the potential damage his exclusionary worldview might inflict upon young impressionable minds.

“Obviously, if he was still there under the new board, they were going to can him,” said Laura Foster, a cofounder of RIDGE Network. “They’re going to spin it that our district wasn’t receptive to his truth or his perception of truth in the biases in our curriculum. It’s solely to preserve his company.”

READ: The Numbers Don’t Lie: Voters Give Pennridge Democrats a Mandate for Change in the School District

Jane Cramer, a parent and outspoken advocate for public education in Pennridge weighed in on the cancellation of the Vermilion contract. “Opting to terminate the contract versus allowing the new board to terminate it … well, I suspect [it was] to save face for themselves and for Jordan Adams,” she said, and referred to the content of the report as a “woke” audit.

The report, which is accompanied by a $4,937.50 invoice, represents close to 40 hours of work and details an assortment of issues that many would consider to be controversial.

“The report was written to save face and to be able to point at his successes, instead of our [new] board coming out and saying that he has failed,” said Ross McLennan, a Pennridge resident who regularly attends and provides public comment at school board meetings. “It gives them an opportunity to pay him off, which they did. I mean, that’s a rather handsome amount of money, $5,000 for that report.”

A Revealing Report that Serves as a Warning to Other School Districts

The final report, for starters, assumes the worst from teachers with implied accusations of bias (without evidence).

“Upon review, it is recommended that the District provide additional definition and clarity to a number of its guiding statements for teachers,” writes Adams, a Hillsdale College graduate.

READ: The war on public schools is being fought from Hillsdale College

“This can ensure each unit is taught without bias and with accuracy while shielding teachers from accusations of the contrary,” reads one passage within the report that could be interpreted to infer that Pennridge teaching staff, many who hold master’s degrees in education, do not possess the ability to select studies to ensure student success.

Another passage refers to studies that subscribe to “a Critical Race Theory view of history and society,” regardless of the fact that Critical Race Theory is not taught in grades K-12 and that the term “CRT” was manufactured as a divisive talking point by conservative activist Christopher Rufo

READ: Anti-Critical Race Theory hysteria revives McCarthyism, Klan politics

“It is recommended that discussing modern issues be omitted from school lessons. However, if they are discussed, teachers deserve greater clarity on how to do justice to each point of view in a contemporary issue,” writes Adams, and emphasizes the need for alternative points of view when referring to specific incidents that occurred during the Trump administration including “the desire to restrict immigration, to ban immigrants from predominately Muslim countries, and to build a wall on our southern border.”

Adams, for example, seemingly believes there is a flip side to “the reported description of African nations by President Trump as “‘shithole’ countries.”

Also telling is a statement within the report regarding the need for parental notification for students who interact with a quiz offered by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, as well as for those scheduled to read books like The Catcher in the Rye and Beloved. Books authored by James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath and even Ernest Hemingway also invoked Adams’ parental notification recommendation despite these works being recognized as classics in public schools for decades.

Chris Kaufman, a newly elected Pennridge school board director who will take his oath of office in early December, said he had predicted the current board would end the Vermilion contract in order to spin his departure as voluntary.

READ: Pennridge School Board Efforts to Overhaul District Curriculum Doesn’t End With Vermilion Education and Hillsdale 1776

“It looks horrific if you’re getting fired by your only client,”said Kaufman.“He had to come up with a final report and say, ‘These are the things that I’ve come up with, I’ve gone as far as I can.’ There was no easy way out for him except for to write a final report and basically say he’s done all he can.” 

Adams had removed his resume from LinkedIn after being retained by Pennridge. It has since been reposted with no mention of his brief tenure at the district.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.