Parents outraged after educator mocks 'bigots,' 'evangelicals' in Dr. Seuss-style poem at school board meeting

The poem calls evangelicals 'kooks' who hate reading

Parents in the Austin, Texas, area expressed outrage after an educator read a Dr. Seuss-style poem mocking "evangelicals" and parents who have expressed concerns about books they call pornographic.

Krista Tyler, a former instructional technology specialist at Grisham Middle School in the Round Rock Independent School District (ISD), read the poem at the Leander ISD school board meeting Dec. 16.

"Everyone in Leander liked reading a lot/ but some evangelicals in Leader did not," Tyler begins. "These kooks hated reading, the whole reading season./ Please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason./ It could be perhaps critical thinking causes fright./ It could be their heads aren't screwed on just right./ But whatever the reason, their brains or their fright,/ they can't follow policy in plain black and white."

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"These bigots don't get to choose for us, that's clear," Tyler's poem continues. "Then how, I am wondering, did we even get here./ They growl at our meetings, all hawing and humming,/ ‘We must stop this indoctrination from coming!’/ They've come for the books and the bonds and what for?/ Their kids don't even attend Leander schools anymore./ Bring back our books, maintain decorum, good grief./ Wouldn't it be nice to have a meeting in peace?"

Parents in Round Rock ISD and Leander ISD expressed outrage over Tyler's poem.

"I'm disgusted and disheartened that there are teachers in our school district who think it is OK to mock parents for their religious beliefs, and for demanding that children not have access to books in the library or classroom that have pornographic illustrations and graphic descriptions of sex acts," Dustin Clark, a father of four children in Round Rock public schools who got arrested for speaking out in a school board meeting, told Fox News.

Krista Tyler speaks at a Leander ISD school board meeting.

Krista Tyler speaks at a Leander ISD school board meeting. (Leander ISD school board)

Clark mentioned two of the books in question: "Lawn Boy," by Jonathan Evison, which includes long sections of a boy reminiscing about explicit experiences he had at 10 years old; and "Gender Queer: A Memoir," by Maia Kobabe, which includes photos of sexual acts between a boy and a man. Concerned parents have spoken up about these books and others in Leader and Round Rock, as well as in other school districts, such as Fairfax County, Virginia.

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Fox initially could not reach Tyler for comment. But she later contacted Fox and asked that this statement be added to the story:

"Krista Tyler was not an employee of any school district at the time of this statement and is a fellow parent in Leander ISD. At no point was she representing any school district. This was not an attack on Christianity and had nothing to do with Round Rock ISD. Krista Tyler asked that the obstructionist parents in Leander ISD use the policies in place if they wish to hold the school board accountable. It is a reasonable ask and is her 1st amendment right as a taxpayer in her own district."

Leander ISD pulled 11 books for sexual content earlier this month. 

"The opinions of the teacher who recently spoke at the board meeting illustrate the utter disconnect some teachers have with their communities," Orlando Salinas, a father of one child in Round Rock ISD and other children too young for public schools, told Fox News. He said the teachers "are under the impression that parents are coming to these meetings in the spirit of political divisiveness, when this is not the case.

"Parents such as myself, are increasingly participating in school board meetings because we see firsthand the detrimental effects that ‘woke-ism’ has had on our schools and our children," Salinas continued. "In Round Rock, 8% of African American students and 11% of Hispanic students perform math on grade level, according to the 2021 STARR Performance data. We parents are attending these meetings to challenge the status quo because the status quo is not working for our students.

14 September 2021, Bavaria, Munich: An empty classroom with the chairs up. (Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)

14 September 2021, Bavaria, Munich: An empty classroom with the chairs up. (Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)

"Superintendents, school board members, and educators are spending an inordinate amount of time teaching children about what bathrooms to use and when it's appropriate to lower their face masks, and not enough time teaching our children reading, writing, and arithmetic," the father said. 

Kieu Trang, a mother of four children in Round Rock ISD at all three school levels, said Krista Tyler "shouldn't be teaching."

"She is trying to lump all parents who oppose pornographic books into the ‘evangelicals-bigots-brainless’ category that hates reading, but the fact of the matter is we are a group of very diverse, highly-concerned parents who do not want pornographic books in our schools," Trang said. "The fact that that statement came from a teacher who could be teaching my children at Round Rock ISD is very concerning."

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"I might have opposing views, but I don't call anyone on the opposing side ‘bigots’ or brainless," Trang added. "That is reprehensible and despicable. She shouldn't be teaching."

Andy Hogue, a father of two students in Leander ISD, told Fox News that the State Board of Education approves curriculum, but "every so often, we find ourselves locked in these battles to stop certain liberal interests from going around our elected representatives. This time we want better representation over our district reading lists – and it's a shame that we even have to debate this. But we are grateful that 11 of the objectionable books were removed.

Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.  June 22, 2021.

Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.  June 22, 2021. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

"This is not a matter of ‘banning books’ but one of community representation," Hogue added. "And as long as we're paying taxes to the LISD, we the people deserve to be heard." 

"That a classroom teacher – who, by the way, has the ability to prescribe ‘book club’ events and vacation reading activities – has such disdain for the very people who pay her salary is mind-boggling," Hogue said. "But it does paint a picture of the overall cluelessness we find ourselves up against."

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Spokespersons for Round Rock ISD and Leander ISD said the district staff were out of office for the holidays and could not comment on the substance of the story.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that Tyler is a former teacher at Grisham Middle School in the Round Rock Independent School District.