The People Who Spoke at the La Mesa Spring Valley School Board Meeting

by on September 16, 2009 · 6 comments

in Civil Rights, Education, Media, Organizing, San Diego

La Mesa schBdsixthgrader

This Sixth-grader Sophia Bacting was one of the most eloquent speakers at the La Mesa Spring Valley School Board meeting. - K.C. Alfred / Union-Tribune

All but one speaker at the La Mesa Spring Valley School Board meeting last night criticized the Board for its 3-2 vote to ban the live broadcast of President Obama’s speech to school kids.

These were ordinary parents of kids in the district – ordinary people – they weren’t bussed in or mobilized by moveon.org, SEIU, ACORN.  They were mobilized by their own outrage, their own fury, their own sense of betrayal by a Board that is supposed to oversee the education of their children.  Some of them were mobilized by their own children! Children who were upset at the Board’s decision.

The following are mere excerpts of what ordinary Americans told this school board.

Tony, the first at the podium, is on the PTA, is a coach, and has 2 kids in that school where the meeting was held – a school that has yet to show Obama’s speech.

We often tell our kids that if they study hard, work hard, that some day they could become President.  If this wasn’t a speech to show kids, you don’t understand your role in their education. (applause) The message is that if you didn’t vote for someone, you don’t have to respect them.

Paul, president of the local teacher’s association:

Professional staff are concerned that partisan politics are entering this Board.

Christine, a mother who sits on the PTA:

We need to re-assure the students, parents, and teachers that something like this will never happen again.

Ann, who has over the last 17 years, seen a trend on the Board:

I’m incredibly upset over the right-wing ideology and action. I’m sick of politics coming into the board’s decisions. (applause)

Sophia, a 6th grade student, who missed soccer practice to come to the meeting:

Do you like your news taped? We don’t either. Kids don’t like being treated like babies. I have been deprived of my right to choose. …  We have learned to fear our President. (standing ovation)

Mother of Sofia, on the PTA:

This school board sent a very bad message to other school boards. I’m furious over the handling of something so simple.  … At the September 7th meeting, all who spoke were in favor of the speech.

A male teacher who has taught for 21 years:

An apology must be issued and shown to the students.  This school (Parkway Middle School) has yet to show the speech! … The Board’s actions are a disgrace. I request your resignations. (applause and some in audience stood.)

Karen, who has lived in La Mesa all her life:

On Thursday (Sept 3) I received a message that parents could opt out.  I emailed the Board and thanked the Board for not giving into the hysteria. Then Rick Winet left a message on the 4th.  I received a second automated message that said the school would not be showing the speech. …  Winet said it was socialism.

I call on Mr. Winet to resign! (Half the room stood up, clapping and chanting “resign, resign, resign!!”)

A guy who said he had to defend where he lives after the board’s decision:

Changes need to be made. The email responses from the Board were insulting, extremist. … Winet’s extremist radical view is unacceptable…. Mr. Winet, you have no choice but to resign!  (chants) … Winet said the President’s speech is a direct assault on the Constitution.   Rick, you shouldn’t be on this school board.  You said the speech was socialistic. Aren’t schools socialistic?! (laughter and applause)

A mother lamented:

We could have gotten a robocall about the emergency school board meeting! (applause).  … My son asked me if the reason the President’s speech was banned was because he’s Black.

Young 6th grader:

You let the bullies win.  …. I hope it wasn’t because he’s Black!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Bonnie September 16, 2009 at 3:24 pm

As one of the senior speakers there, I urged the board to think about the need for our young to have a role model, such as the president, and pointed out that the board should be grateful for any encouragement of our young to complete school. Fewer young men are attending college, 1 in 3 young black men are involved in the criminal justice system, and our prisons are crowded with school dropouts. Furthermore, we have shortages of highly trained people, such as engineers, while our main global competitors, China and India are awash in them. I concluded by asking them to think about these issues before denying anyone the right to share encouraging words again.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 16, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Bonnie – Thank you for adding this. I didn’t take notes while you spoke but definitely remember what you said – and it was pretty darn good!

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avatar Mark Stengel September 16, 2009 at 3:59 pm

The most delicious absurdities at the LMSV school district board meeting on Sept. 15 were 1) Board member Rick Winet’s attempt to have his cake and eat it too by apologizing then qualifying his apology and 2) best of all, the apologies offered by 3 of the 5 member board TO the board itself….and then SECONDED and ACCEPTED by the same members. I haven’t seen that aspect of the story discussed in any news articles.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 16, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Mark, thanks for pointing out the obvious that no one else pointed out. Let’s see – the 5 board members voted to accept the apologies of 3 of them. Hmmm, wonder was the vote was.

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avatar Shawn Conrad September 17, 2009 at 8:10 am

May I borrow a whip for this dead horse please?

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avatar Michael McCall September 17, 2009 at 8:56 am

Happily, I was able to attend the meeting. I particularly pleased that in this rather conservative community, so many residents not only were able to articulate that they disagreed with the decision of the Board, but also convincingly demonstrated the weaknesses of the Board’s justification for prohibiting the live airing of the President’s address in classrooms. We should all expect and accept that our elected officials occasionally will make education policy contrary to our individual preferences. However, we must demand that decisions are always based on sound reasoning rather than irrational noise and political posturing. Our students deserve nothing less. I believe parents and others like those noted above sent that clear message to the School Board on Tuesday night.

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