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Love, Individualism, Vision and Effort were the four non-negotiable principles Clover Park School District Superintendent Ron Banner instilled in his adopted son, Zach Banner, an offensive tackle for the Pittsburg Steelers.

In an April 19, 2010 article entitled Zach Banner – A Profile in Character, Chris Fetters wrote: “The basis of Ron’s teachings toward Zach have all been centered around character.”

A character built on how to LIVE life.

School board member Paul Wagemann wants this for every student in the district.

During a December 14, 2020 district board meeting, he expressed his concern for the 10 to 11 percent of students who do not graduate when he said the board needed to “crack the whip,” to do all it can do to help all district students earn their diplomas.

Consternation followed.

In a letter to the board, Taniesha Lyons demanded Wagemann’s resignation and labeled him a “racist.”

In another letter, Filma Fontanilla, vice-president of the Clover Park Education Association for Diversity and Inclusion, demanded that Wagemann apologize for “the racist and public act.”

Reportedly scores of emails in support of Wagemann were sent to the school board.

The board then called a special meeting on December 21 to discuss what Wagemann had said. During the meeting, Superintendent Banner recounted the history of the district’s “equity journey.”

It is in the context of a discussion about diversity, inclusion and equity (DIE) that Wagemann was then asked to explain what he meant when he said “crack the whip.”

A Public Disclosure Request for “all emails and correspondence and board meeting minutes related to Paul Wagemann’s alleged ‘crack the whip’ comment” netted nothing but Lyon’s letter.

At this point, CPSD Public Records declared the request closed, that all records requested had been released.

That is a false statement.

Since Wagemann’s statement and what he meant by it has elicited strong reactions from those concerned about equity, perhaps some reflection is in order.

School districts broadly view equity in terms of inquiring, affirming and meeting diverse needs; identifying and removing barriers to equity that exist operationally and systematically; maintaining high standards, rigor and expectations; and a commitment to discover what works and for whom.

If this is how the Clover Park School Board understands equity, then a most practical and immediate step of inestimable value would be for Superintendent Banner to grab a microphone and share the LIVE lessons he imparted to his son, Zach.

Far more important than system analysis, curriculum appropriateness and hiring practices – and certainly more important than micro cross-examining the words, the motives, the intentions of a board member who actually wants to accomplish equity – is the message that Ron Banner the superintendent and dad can share with parents and youths who want to learn and graduate.

Perhaps to succeed in educating our youth, we should replace the culture of DIE with the character building principles of LIVE.

Letter: LIVE or DIE | The Suburban Times ( – January 5, 2021


David Anderson


January 5, 2021

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