Earlier this month, the Woodland Park School District issued a press release thanking the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for “recognizing the value and merit of the American Birthright standards implemented at Woodland Park High School.”
Situated 45 miles southeast of Denver, Elizabeth School District has just 2,474 students, fewer than many high schools in Denver, Cherry Creek and Aurora. As a result, it’s easy to overlook the day-to-day workings of the small district in favor of the attention-grabbing antics of its larger neighbors.
The floor of the Ute Pass Cultural Center quaked in time with the bass drum on Tuesday night as hundreds of Woodland Park citizens crowded into the room to await election results. By 6pm, an hour before polls closed, the venue was packed, the sounds of laughter and conversation competing only with the soulful voice of the band’s singer – who I finally realized was Erin O’Connell, the local parent-turned-activist who has led much of the charge against the town’s controversial school board. The anxiety and anticipation which grips the first hour of so many election night parties was absent, replaced by the palpable relief the community felt at having finally made it to this point.
Andrew Wommack wasn’t kidding back in 2021 when he called his followers to “take over” Woodland Park, the mountain town of 8,000 west of Colorado Springs that’s home to his ministry and Charis Bible College.
If a germ touches me, it dies,” the faith healer proclaimed at the height of the pandemic. Not everyone was so lucky: though he personally claimed to be protected by faith-based immunity, Andrew Wommack’s constant flouting of local health ordinances, his desire to pack the sanctuary at Charis Bible College with hundreds of people at a time, led to multiple fatal outbreaks of the virus in Teller County. Now, three years later, Wommack’s ministry empire has infected Woodland Park with a new strain of contagion, this time through the ballot box.
The other thing we ask is no recording,” the Freedom Foundation moderator can be heard saying on the recording I recently obtained. The recording, which was provided by a source who wishes to remain anonymous, is of a panel discussion at a recent conference and prominently features Brad Miller, the controversial attorney for the Woodland Park school board. “If you guys want these guys to be frank, to be open with you guys, they don’t want to be on YouTube. I don’t want to be on YouTube. So if we can, just make sure that there is no recording.”
The Woodland Park-based effort to fundamentally alter public education in America is being funded by the zombie fortunes of long-dead conservative industrialists, according to a review of hundreds of tax documents associated with the members of Civics Alliance, the coalition which produced the American Birthright social studies program.
Twenty miles northwest of Colorado Springs, nestled amongst the conifers behind the first upslopes of the Front Range, the vanguard of a shadowy, well-funded national movement has taken over a school district. Now, the district is being used as a base of operations from which to open a new front in the right wing’s decades-old war on public education.