School boards exist to set the vision and goals for the public schools in their district. While the superintendent manages the day-to-day of the district, the board sets the agenda. And in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, members of the Upper Moreland School Board made their agenda clear: identity politics takes priority over the needs of students.
The Upper Moreland School Board held a board president election on December 6, 2022. One of the candidates running was Greg D’Elia, a father of three who has lived in the area for more than 15 years. Greg has practical experience as an area school director and two of his children are currently attending school in the district.
For Greg, making sure all students have the resources and support needed to thrive in school is a personal issue that hits close to home. Not long ago, one of his kids was having a hard time at school. They were struggling in class and needed special education resources. Greg learned the hard way that more could be done to “improve access to special services for students.”
Greg pledged to approach his responsibilities as school board president from the head and from the heart. He promised to apply his analytical skills as a mechanical engineer to collect data that would help the district find ways to use scarce resources to maximize impact, while recognizing that our children are not numbers. He believes that a good education can change the trajectory of lives, and that it’s the responsibility of the whole community to educate the next generation.
None of this was enough. Greg D’Elia had lost the election before it even started — he met every criteria except for one. Greg was born a white man. And if there was any doubt that Greg’s race and gender did not factor into the vote, one board member spelled it out for all those attending the meeting.
Right before the vote, Upper Moreland School Board treasurer Jennifer Solot had the audacity to declare — out loud, for all to hear — that she could not vote for a “cis white male” to be the new president of their school district.
“I believe that Mr. D’Elia would make an excellent president,” she admitted. “However, I feel that electing the only cis white male on this board president of this district sends the wrong message to our community: a message that is contrary to what we as a board have been trying to accomplish.”
What would that message be?
That gender and skin color overrule talent and character? That how you were born matters more than what you can offer your community? According to the board treasurer, Jennifer Solot, this is what the Upper Moreland School District stands for.
School boards were made to represent the needs of students and school districts to taxpayers and parents. They were not made for individuals to push their personal politics onto the entire community to the detriment of students. That is, unless you live in Upper Moreland, PA.
Note: As of December 13, 2023, Ms. Solat resigned her position in response to the backlash from her comments.