Saturday, October 3, 2020

School Board to Silence Free Speech?

Should teachers have the right to criticize a school district's racial-equity plan? Should a school board be able to control "all forms of public and personal communication" of teachers? Control any form of it?

It's not happening in Richland 2 School District (yet), but an attempt is being made by the Loudon County (Va.) Public Schools Distict Board to do just that. Loudon County is northwest of Washington, D.C. - you know, that bastion of freedom, free speech,  protector of all rights? Yeah, sure... that one... One media source reports that the proposed provision is "hidden" in a professional-conduct policy proposal.

Imagine that. Buried in a "professional-conduct" policy proposal. Who would ever think to look there?

Whenever words like "equity", "discrimination", "injustice", "restoration", "cultural diversity" etc. begin appearing in proposed policies, it is time (actually, it is past time) for the public to not only sit up and take notice, but it is time for the public to stand up and speak out 

It's harder now, because the Richland 2 School Board continues to shelter-in-place behind Zoom and Livestream, preventing the public from showing up at "public", open meetings. The Board makes small talk about re-opening schools, but nary a word is heard about re-opening school board meetings. The public is forced to line up between about Friday 2:00PM and Tuesday 1:00PM and only submit written comments.

Those comments are then speed-read to the board, while some on the board could be napping behind turned-off cameras (but sometimes forgetting to mute microphones). Who knows if they are even still "in the room"? They could be in their kitchens, waiting for the pizza to show its golden-brown crust and come out of the oven, or chatting on the phone with other members of their clique. 

By the way, when you hear a board member's voice while Mrs. Roof is speed-reading a parent's letter, that may not be the only board member who is not paying attention. To whom was she speaking? Someone passing through the room? To another board member on the phone?

This is why board members' cameras should be on at all times. The audience is entitled to know who is listening and who is rolling her eyes at what a parent has written. The audience is entitled to know which board member is not paying attention and who is reading or sending email or texts. 

The School Board's practice? To turn off the cameras while Mrs. Roof is reading the letters. A bad practice. I have complained about it. Has anyone else?