Rick Gedemer, incumbent candidate for Fond du Lac School Board
Rick Gedemer will tell you he’s not a politician, even though he currently serves in one elected office that he’s trying to use as a springboard to an even higher one.
Rick will tell you he’s a proponent of free speech and making sure teachers are heard. Meanwhile, he’s spent the last three years creating such a district-wide culture of fear among school staff that none of them will voice even the slightest objection about his leadership for fear of losing their jobs.
Rick will tell you he’s opposed to inserting “ideologies” into our school systems, yet every one of his goals of office can be traced directly back to parroted right-wing conservative political talking points, evangelical Christian theology, and hero-worship of law enforcement.
Rick will tell you his goal is supporting all students in the pursuit of academic excellence, but he’s never attended a graduation ceremony. Rick talks a lot about being “real” instead of having “pride.” The reality of Rick Gedemer is that he’s a blustering, incompetent, bigoted fraud, and everything about him brings shame upon our school district.
Rick uses his personal Facebook page as his primary public communication tool, so let’s see what our incumbent candidate has had to say for himself.
On March 1st, 2019, school board candidate Rick Gedemer talked about his criteria for a “wordly, broadly experienced staff.”
If the proposed pre-employment psychological assessment questions about “moral concerns and aptitude” sound like weirdly recycled McCarthyism, that’s because they are. All the school staff that Rick has supported hiring have all been abled, white, cisgender Wisconsin residents, and almost all have been men. One of his most recent hires received a civil citation for obstructing law enforcement in relation to an investigation of sexual assault on school grounds. Rick claims he personally recruited that same employee to come work as Fond du Lac’s new Director of Pupil Services.
On March 23th, 2019, candidate Rick Gedemer voiced his support for School Resource Officers as the “objective experts” on community safety standards.
Research has shown that School Resource Officers (who are often members of the local police force) do little to reduce on-campus violence or mass shootings. Having SROs in schools can actually create hostile school environments with higher rates of behavioral incidents and spikes in suspensions, expulsions, and arrests, particularly among non-white students and those with disabilities.
In this meandering post from March 25th, 2019, candidate Rick Gedemer laid out his “To Do List” for his school board service. It’s far too long, unfocused, and rambling to put into full detail here, but a few specific items are especially worth noting:
- “The administration will stop using the word “Cabinet.” And “Cadre”. Personally, it makes me feel like I should salute or bow down. Not happening”
- “A school behavior management task force will be established to include church, mental health, law enforcement, district attorney, judge, and other representatives to design a progressive corrective action discipline system [for students].”
- “Religions of the World will be taught. World readiness starts in high school. This is just one of the things that is needed for world ready [sic]. Another World READY NEED is an individual to take over the position of Technology Director. This is HUGE [sic] undertaking, and a VERY important position. One person needs to focus on this directly.”
A cabinet is a body of advisors that help elected leaders make policy decisions. A cadre is a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession. Rick’s discomfort with these words comes from his insecurity over his own shortcomings.
Rick also forgets (or doesn’t care) that public schools are not churches, courts, or jails. When he talks about incorporating “church” into school discipline and curriculum, he means enforcing white Evangelical Christianity. When he talks about involving law enforcement officers, judges, and the district attorney in school disciplinary planning, he means criminalizing even more students into the school-to-prison pipeline.
On February 20th, 2020, Rick Gedemer suggested asking retired military veterans to serve as school security officers.
Unlike in the movies, most service members are not weapons or close quarters battle experts. Only half of Post-9/11 veterans have any combat experience according to a Pew Research poll. When people work a job for you, they deserve to be paid a fair wage. Specifying “retired veterans” means Rick likely wants these folks to be unpaid volunteers. Not only is that insulting to veterans and to workers in general, the kind of person who’d be willing to be an unpaid, armed lurker in a school building probably isn’t the kind of person who’s trustworthy around kids. We need realistic solutions to preventing school shootings, not Rick Gedemer’s vicarious GI Joe fantasies.
On February 20th, 2020, candidate Rick Gedemer called for armed teachers in our public schools.
“Hardening” schools by turning them into prisons for the innocent does not prevent school shootings. It treats them as inevitable. The notion of a highly trained teacher armed with a gun, able to respond as quickly as trained law enforcement is a myth. There have been nearly 100 publicly reported incidents of mishandled guns at schools in the last five years, including:
- A teacher’s loaded gun falling from his waistband during a cartwheel.
- A teacher unintentionally firing a gun in class during a safety demonstration.”
- A student grabbing an officer’s gun while the officer attempted to subdue the student.
The presence of more guns during a school shooting will make it difficult for officers to identify the shooter, rendering the situation more dangerous. School safety experts, teachers, and law enforcement all oppose the idea. Millions of dollars are wasted annually on doing everything except increasing mental health services, social-emotional learning supports, and intervention strategies for at-risk students.
In this post from February 26th, 2020, Rick cited a Newsweek article about a teacher at a high school in Baltimore, MD who had come under criticism for using an image of President Trump alongside a swastika and a hammer and sickle during a history class presentation.
This incident didn’t even happen in Wisconsin. It’s simply an excuse for Rick to go off on an extremely niche rant about how he thinks kids are “stupid,” and how much he apparently fantasizes about having the power to tell anyone who disagrees with him to “back off, “shut your mouths” and “stop calling all the time.” The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause already prohibits the government and other public institutions from activities that endorse, advance, or otherwise advantage one religion over another. The only person who has consistently been campaigning for “indoctrination in public schools” is Rick Gedemer himself.
On, March 1st, 2020, candidate Rick Gedemer asked whether staff at “Government Schools” were teaching facts or pushing personal values and social platforms.
“Government schools” is a dog whistle for Christian Reconstructionism, an Evangelical movement that seeks to replace modern, secular legal and political systems with a new world order built around Biblical law. To borrow from Rick’s terms, it’s social engineering through establishing a Christian theocracy. Reconstructionist theology discourages engaging with modern politics and scientific studies in favor of heterosexual marriage, raising children, running businesses that reflect their religious commitments, and going to church. These are the actions they believe will help bring about Christ’s return to Earth.
The term “government schools” has also been picked up by rightwing conservative politicians and pundits in their scaremongering against Critical Race Theory, Social Emotional Learning, and comprehensive sexual health education by calling everything outside a traditionalist worldview “indoctrination.” Rick’s examples of abortion, climate change, and human sexuality and gender are proof he’s doing the same thing.
In April 2022, Rick Gedemer announced he was running as a write-in candidate for Fond du Lac County Executive. His April 7th and June 4th 2022 posts summarize his plan to Make Fond du Lac Great Again.
Rick’s 30-year County government plan involves protecting free speech by banning Pride flags, protecting freedom of religion by using the power of law to deny abortion rights even to those whose faith does not prohibit it, and deciding that the answer to the question “who would Jesus protect” is guns. Luckily, his write-in campaign was not successful.
“Second Amendment sanctuaries” are built entirely upon a tightly held and inaccurate belief that common sense gun safety laws are unconstitutional. Firearms are now the number one cause of death for children in the United States. More kids now die from guns in America than car crashes and cancer. Over the last 20 years, more children have died from gunshots than on-duty police officers and active duty military combined.
If Rick Gedemer actually cared about the safety and wellbeing of Fond du Lac’s students and residents, he’d be pushing state legislators to enact common sense, evidence-based gun control measures such as universal background checks, safe storage laws, “red flag” laws, and raising the minimum age to own or purchase semi-automatic rifles. He’d also remember the difference between a political platform, a school board podium, and a church pulpit.
In 2023, Rick Gedemer has now gone fully mask-off with his support of white Christian Nationalist fascism.
On January 3rd, 2023, Rick Gedemer lifted Florida Governor Ron Desantis in prayer, praised his leadership, and asked that the Lord motivate DeSantis to run for President in 2024. By February 17th, 2023, Rick started openly campaigning on the same rampant bigotry, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and censorship that DeSantis is using in Florida as he positions himself as a likely 2024 Presidential candidate.
Rick’s golden rule is that Rick wants to be the one who makes the rules. It’s not that he doesn’t think bullies exist. He just doesn’t like being called what he is.
Fascism is not simply a history class vocabulary term or a popular buzzword. Fascism is a political movement that embraces far-right nationalism, centralized government around an authoritarian ruler, the idea of rebirth into a “new national greatness,” and the forceful suppression of any opposition.
Fascism is openly hostile to higher education and suppresses human rights in favor of rigid traditional family and gender roles and male-dominated leadership, an obsession with patriotism, militarism, and police power, scapegoating of religious, racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities, and mass unification through fear.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Early voting in Fond du Lac County starts on Tuesday, March 21. When you head to the polls or submit your absentee ballot, for Pete’s sake, don’t “Pick Rick.”