Today, I had the pleasure to answer questions asked by the Baltimore Sun. Here are the questions and my answers in their entirety.
Baltimore Sun: “How did you meet Dan Cox and come to a decision to run together?”
Gordana Schifanelli: “Dan called me in June of 2021, after reading articles about my work across the state regarding the issues surrounding the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education election victory in 2020 and my stance on school closures, mandatory masking policies..etc. He asked if I could help him restore freedoms to the people and specifically parents and children. He specifically said: “Will you consider serving the people of this great state”? And, I said: “Absolutely”. The rest is history.”
Baltimore Sun: “What do you believe are the most urgent issues in Maryland education right now?”
Gordana Schifanelli: “Parental rights to raise the children without huge encroachment of the political indoctrination into our schools. For an example: when my son Filip was in the 7th grade, he was given the following language arts assignment: “What Monument would you take down and why” (you may not answer “none” and give your answers). To me – teaching kids to think in that direction is not appropriate. I come from Yugoslavia. My ancestors suffered under Turkish hegemony for over 800 years as slaves and oppressed people but there are still monuments of Turkish sultans and their mausoleums to remind us of the history of the Balkans. The remains of the torture dungeons and ruins are all there for tourists to see. It is insane and inappropriate to teach kids to think about destroying monuments in language arts. If the purpose of the course to teach kids to learn how to write, then allowing them literary freedom to write about the monuments is one thing, but steering them to think about destruction, removal and hate about our country and history is another thing.
Moreover, teaching kids to divide each other by the skin color and that white kids are oppressors and black kids are the oppressed is as racist as it gets. I do not wish kids to be divided by their skin color.
Furthermore, I am against transgender education or talking to kids about their genitalia in K-4th grade, nor do I agree about reading pornographic books like the “Gender Queer” by Mia Kobabe or the “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison. I believe that these books are highly inappropriate for children or the matter of the public-school education.
The most urgent issue in Maryland is loss of learning after the unprecedented shut down for the entire year and in some counties longer: From March 2020 to Fall 2021. I have two boys who graduated high school at that time frame. They missed in-person graduation and celebration of their friendships before they disbursed to work or further studies. They missed games and fun. Many of their friends fell into depression and despair….
So, I have 3 boys, the youngest being 13 now, and 11 during Covid and at Christmas 2021 my youngest son’s classmate, girl age 13 committed suicide. This was the second attempted suicide in 3 month’s time span. The fist attempted suicide, a boy did not succeed and was saved. This is acute, urgent and horrific result of Maryland’s lock downs and school closures. We have mental health pandemic and I intend to stop this trend.
The children are used for nefarious purposes and I am horrified for our future. I have seen public school curriculums and Maryland Public School Health Framework. I have seen politization of our schools to the point I have seen in my native Serbia during the communist regime and I do not wish our students and our families to go through the same political struggle I have gone through.
Baltimore Sun: “What expertise or lived experiences do you bring to the Republican ticket and campaign trail? Or rather, are there any ways you feel you have shaped the campaign and governor’s race? Please be specific”.
Gordana Schifanelli: “I am the only candidate that lived through socialism and government overreach. That is what we are facing in Maryland now. Our country is founded on individual freedoms. That is why millions of people come to the US each year. This is the land of the free and the land of opportunity. The conservative values rest on individualism. Democrats on the other side prefer “collectivism”. Collectivism is a socialist principle where the group regains priority over the individual. Collectivism is new to our system of government and contrary to the principles set forth in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. As I grew up in a system of collectivism and came to the system of respecting individualism, I have the most unique ability to explain the two major ideological shifts in our society and more importantly, consequences that each of these ideologies bring to the future. In other words, I wish for Marylanders to understand the consequences and outcomes of ideas before they implement ideas or change the existing system as often times ideas look perfect on the paper but do not work as planned in practice. I bring practical knowledge and experience to Marylanders.
I believe that I have shaped the campaign in a major way because I was on the campaign trail full time for the past year and I believe that my personality and ease to relate to so many parents with children in public and private schools have helped us win the Primary race. While Dan was working on legislations during the past 2022 legislative session, I was on the campaign trail talking to parents. I was sharing my message of freedom – educational freedom and that is what helped us win the Primary race.”
Baltimore Sun: “In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans, you have an uphill battle. Do you feel President Trump’s endorsement is making an impact on the race? If so, in what way?”
Gordana Schifanelli: “I agree that we have an uphill battle. I believe we had an uphill battle in the Primary. We were outspent and the moneys were pouring to Larry Hogan’s candidate. However, the people heard our message. We got the votes and others spent the money. We identified issues better and we won. The issues are always at stake. Our primary opponent couldn’t send the message to republican voters how successful Hogan’s administration had been simply because the voters didn’t see the success for themselves in the light of covid shut downs and suppression of our liberties: how we breathe air and what we inject into our bodies. Hogan’s governance was a Democrat style governance. That is what voters rejected.
With the democrat style governance, we have the same issues: do we want to thrive as free people, safe in our communities, run successful small businesses, retire comfortably and have the fundamental right to raise our children how we see fit, or do we have to submit ourselves to vaccine passport tracking, children’s tracking and socialist style of wealth transfer, while the elitists continue to benefit on Marylander’s lack of quality education and ignorance. I say this because Marylander’s had hard time figuring out where I’m from and the difference between Serbia, Syria and Siberia. Maryland children need more diversity: but not of the skin color but diversity of subjects in school. I am a huge advocate for logic, foreign language and many classes that are lacking and where children would thrive and gain curiosity, rather than being bored, bullied, depressed and suicidal.
As far as your question about Trum: President Trump and President Trump’s policies are two different things. Many people simply do not like Trump as a person. I have never met President Trump and I do not know him personally to form an opinion about him. However, his America First policies are very likable by many who understand that secured borders, law and order and school of choice is the freedom message and should allow us to thrive and not lose our minds over simple freedom message, which includes energy independence and abundance of natural resources that keeps the costs down and our people prosperous.
I disagree with inflation and Biden economy. I lived in a system where the inflation rate was 313 Million % in 1990s. We were using plastic Coke bottles to store gas for emergencies. So, I know how devastating our economy can get following Biden’s trajectory, and I don’t’ want this to happen to us. I disagree with lack of transparency in schools. I disagree with vaccine passports and mask mandates. I respect everyone’s individual choices, but I am against governmental force of any kind over any person.”
Baltimore Sun: “The outcome of the 2020 election has been a point of division within the Republican party. Do you believe the election was stolen from President Trump?”
Gordana Schifanelli: “Since 1999, when I arrived to the US I have been exposed to “contested election outcomes”. My first experience with the US election was Bush v Gore: from pregnant chads to dimpled ballots. In 2016 Hillary Clinton claimed that Trump stole the election and that he colluded with the Russians. We had spent 3 years, Special Counsil and millions of dollars that we do not have to arrive to Christopher Steel and fake dossier paid by the Clinton campaign. Democrats and republicans alike were all mad and our country didn’t benefit from any of this other than being more polarized and angrier.
During the 2020 election, around 10pm the counting of the ballots stopped for hours. We all saw that. After that, I have no idea what happened and why the trucks with over 100,000 ballots ended up in a ditch in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Why are trucks in Maryland picking up machines from precincts and driving them to “secure” locations for the ballot counting?. Aren’t our precincts safe already? In Maryland you have literally trucks carrying machines all over the place. It doesn’t look safe to me. Perpetual election does not help. Hence the claims of election fraud by both parties. If we truly want to save our country we need to ensure election integrity and trust of all people. I am not sure why would France have 1 day, paper ballot only election and we have mail-in ballots, and provisional and absentee and early in-person voting and election day voting only to realize that only 40% of the entire population even care to vote! To me that is a huge issue. Why are our people so disinterested in the elections when we all know that elections have consequences? So there is so much work we need to do to fix the manner how we conduct ourselves and our elections.”
Baltimore Sun: “You’ve been critical of the teachers unions, who ultimately endorsed Wes Moore. I spoke with an educator yesterday who worried the Cox ticket would alienate teachers at a time when the state is facing a shortage. What would you say to that voter?”
Gordana Schifanelli: “I am very critical of the Teacher’s Union and the power they have over the teachers,parents, students, State Board of Education and the curriculum. I know they endorsed Wes Moore and there is the major difference between our two campaigns. We, on the other hand are endorsed by United Against Racism in Education (UARE.us) organization representing millions of parents, educators and students.
We are endorsed by Parent-Teacher Coalition, another non profit organization representing parents and teachers united to fight political indoctrination in schools as pushed by the Maryland Teacher’s Association aka Teachers Union.
Private school teachers are free to negotiate their salaries in private schools. However, Maryland teachers in public schools, regardless whether they are members of the Teacher’s Union or not have no power to negotiate their own wages. We cannot reward good teachers. And we cannot terminate those who fail to teach students. Again, students suffer. In many counties, teachers refused to return to school and teach, albeit Covid-19 vaccines and triple masking. We had teachers screaming that they will die if they return to teach. In the same period, private school teachers kept the kids in schools, schools open and private school children did not suffer the learning loses as much as public school kids. This just tells you that the behaviors and political force by the Teacher’s Union hurt the most inner-city school kids and those who couldn’t afford to send their kids to private schools or those who could not afford to home school. While parents had to go to work, the Teachers Union used the opportunity to bully the parents and teachers. We need to fix this.
We are a student centric ticket. Wes Moor is Union centric. It is very clear.
Under Wes Moor’s leadership, our schools and quality of education will continue to deteriorate.
As a result of the teacher’s union’s major push towards critical theories, transgenderism and politization of our students, hundreds of families pulled their children out of public schools. We are facing shortages of both; teachers and students in public schools.
There is a massive increase of alternative education, home schooling and the chaos ensued. This chaos is hurting our people.
Look at Baltimore City Public schools situation: we have “ghost” students and $93,000,000 million dollars “missing” while schools couldn’t open on time due to a non existent or broken air-conditioners, and where teachers are passing those who cannot read at their grade levels, just to mention the few issues that recently resurfaced in Baltimore City as the state publishes results of the most recent test scores. Proficiency levels are at the historic low state wide.
Educational crisis is the national security risk. We are raising people who have no clue about the world around them, cannot critically think and cannot write or read.
Cox/Schifanelli administration will fix it. That includes removing political indoctrination out of schools and restoring classical quality learning. Good teachers need to be rewarded, not punished. We need to return SRO’s back to schools for safety reasons and I want love of learning to be universal and fun and it is only possible if we have political will and motivation to save our children. Cox/Schifanelli ticket will not only restore independence for teachers to do their jobs but also reward teachers who love to teach and who show results. We have educators waiting to be liberated to teach facts and not be part of the political apparatus of the democrat party. “
Baltimore Sun: “I spoke with a Maryland voter yesterday who said he feels the Cox campaign is too far right while the Moore campaign is too far left. He’s concerned politicians are growing reluctant to meet in the middle. When it comes to education, is compromise or bipartisan cooperation possible? Which issues are non-negotiable for you and which ones are flexible?”
Gordana Schifanelli: “The voter you spoke with, the one who believes that Cox is too right is the one who has not met Cox or me and who relies on the media information pushing this narrative and I don’t blame him. Media has been crafting narratives which create bias and prejudice. There is nothing far right with trying to restore common sense and freedom.
That is something that has been universal for everyone. But the fact that we went so far left has created the impression that trying to restore common sense is “far right”. Just like President Biden claimed that Make America Great Again supporters are some types of domestic terrorists. This is a false and harmful narrative and far from the truth. Parents are not domestic terrorists. That is horrific for anyone to say, let alone President Biden who also endorsed Wes Moore.
To find an agreement, we need to define issues. If we cannot define issues, we cannot solve problems. The first thing is to figure out what are the issues. I can tell you that every parent wants world class education. But what does this mean? Is this removing monuments? Distorting history?
I am all for competition. Let’s look at the top education systems around the world. Let’s understand why are Europeans so far ahead in elementary/middle and high school education. I am a product of that education. I can tell you how far behind our students are and the priorities we have placed on gender identity vs math or science or logic or foreign languages. Just to mention few issues.
So I can compromise with having 1 foreign language in Kindergarten and the second foreign language in fifth grade, for an example, but I cannot compromise on basic fundamental rights, like providing parents access to curriculum or allowing parents to have a voice over their children’s education.
The non-negotiable item are natural rights. I cannot negotiate your constitutional rights. For an example, I cannot agree on your behalf with the teacher’s union or democrats that you need to inject yourself with whatever injection I deem is necessary so that you can keep your job or attend school. I would never agree with tracking your movements or your child’s movements. I cannot engage in coercion or blackmail: for an example, if there is more than 8 people at your Thanksgiving dinner you will be fined or arrested. In Montgomery County we had police officers calling in desperation that if they don’t get the third booster, they will be fired…etc. Those are horrific examples of what we just went through. Dan Cox and I are freedom loving people. We want government to get out of people’s business: literally so that people can pursue happiness as they should and see fit. That is thedifference between the two tickets.”
Baltimore Sun: “What is your opinion on the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future reform plan?”
Gordana Schifanelli: “Blueprint for Maryland Future is a perfect example of misguided legislation: the framers of the legislation identified the true issues; boys are performing worse than girls; black students are performing worse than white and white are performing worse than Asians etc. The intention was good: let’s fix the disparities in educational outcomes. I agree with that assessment. But I do not agree with how we solve the problem.
Equity is not defined. What is equity? As a family lawyer, that term means: what is fair and just and is defined by the judges, neutral umpires between two conflicting sides in a civil matter. What are two conflicting sides in education? Who is against whom in order to find what is equitable which means: what is Fair and Just. Why do Asian students outperform all other students? Is it the culture? Is it something they do or eat or how they behave? Do we really want to know or do we want to play politics with student’s lives? So let’s see: two sides in education are: teachers and students (or their parents).
Maryland Legislators were lobbied by the Teacher’s Union. Hence the legislation. But what is fair for the teacher’s union may not be fair for students. We saw that with “online” learning, or lack thereof. Many teachers and the Union members demanded permanent online classes. My son’s class was 10 minutes long during Covid. Instructional time was minimal. Learning losses were huge. Teachers refused to return to school with 3 masks on their faces and all the shots and boosters available.
Then, we have ideas not to have standardized testing. Without testing, we don’t have scores to show the performance. Hence, suddenly for many colleges and universities now we have SAT optional universities etc. None of this is good, fair or just for students because they are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the education system. Maryland Blueprint is focusing on Race, racial and social justice vs education. Instead of helping those who need help the most, we are funding “equity” specialists who are promoting collectivism and political ideology, as opposed to helping black boys learn.
Again: we started with a problem, but Maryland Blueprint doesn’t solve it. It is another failed legislation that started with good intentions. Black students scores will not improve with kitty litter in front of their school’s bathrooms. Guaranteed.
So Maryland Blueprint has good bones. I can work with it and it would actually work to benefit our students because that is fair and just and that’s what Blueprint actually is all about. We just have incompetent application of that law. I can fix that. “
Baltimore Sun: “Do you have any regrets in your political journey thus far? Anything you would do differently”?
Gordana Schifanelli: “I could never dream that I would be in politics. I hate politics. But I love love love people and kids. I am just so grateful to everyone who welcomed me with open arms. I wouldn’t do anything differently. I have no regrets. I have gained huge experience and appreciation for public service. This is so new to me and if elected, Marylanders will have the biggest advocate and biggest fan in the Maryland House. I adopted everyone as my people as I settled in Maryland and as I rase family and practice law, so all of you are in my heart. I just want us to be happier people and for that you are worth the sweat and sleepless nights. I feel everyone’s pain and desire to raise their children in the best way possible. We are one people who can find happiness together. I promise you this is possible with me in the Lt. Governor’s position”.
Baltimore Sun: “Similar to the question above, what are you most proud of? “
Gordana Schifanelli: “I am most proud of our accomplishments. I started the grass roots movement two ears ago with Kent Island Patriots. At that time, Baltimore Sun really did an amazing job researching and writing and calling people to seek truth. Two years later, I feel I earned the trust and love of Marylanders and it resonates with me. My family has sacrificed so much for the public service and the benefit of everyone. I am so proud of the volunteers who equally worked tersely to bring ideas of freedom back to Maryland. I am awed to their creativity and independence. I am so honored to be protected by Mama Bears and to know that I gained friends for life. I am also so proud of being part of Maryland’s history.”
Nominee for Lieutenant Governor (R)