Submitted by John Arbeeny.
I attended the Clover Park School District meeting on 15 June 2021 where there were several public speakers who addressed the District’s “equity journey”, critical race theory and academic performance. Each speaker was limited to 3 minutes which was barely enough time to get their points across unless you can speak as fast as the FEDEX man! There were also several emails on the same subjects which were read by Board President Marty Schafer, some of which took more than 3 minutes to read.
While the Board did not reply to any of the issues or questions raised, one Board member, Carol Jacobs, who has been on the Board for decades, did have an observation and recommendation. She remarked that some of the emails were taking longer than 3 minutes to read and suggested that they too be limited to the 3 minutes read time.
This is what’s wrong with this Board. Rather than expand the public comments to a more reasonable time, say 5 minutes, the Board’s “solution” is to limit all comments, in person and emails, to the same short 3 minute format. Given the option of expanding public participation during Board meetings, the Board instead seeks to further limit public participation.
Indeed there were only about 10 public comments in person or emailed. It’s not like that expansion was going to drastically extend the Board’s agenda which was largely administrative in nature: recognition awards, Superintendent report, consent agenda, adoption of policy and Board member reports most of which was set in concrete the previous working group session.
Interestingly there wasn’t a single agenda item dealing with the District’s dismal academic performance but there was one adopting a policy of “Social Emotional Climate! “Feelings….nothing more than feelings….”. If the Board really valued transparency it would do everything in its power to expand its interface with the public instead of treating it as just a box to check off with the least amount of bother actually listening to them.
“We see you” is the Board’s equity journey refrain but when it comes to “we hear you” you only get 3 minutes to speak. Apparently they have 20/20 vision when it comes to your skin color but are stone deaf when it comes to listening to what you have to say.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.