We were saddened by what we saw at school board
Saturday, February 11, 2017 10:00 AM
This isn’t about whether Kevin Yancey should remain as principal at Madison Consolidated High School.
This isn’t about whether Madison Schools Superintendent Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger should resign or be fired.
Those issues will eventually be resolved to the satisfaction of some and the anger of others.
We’re compelled to address something we saw at Wednesday night’s school board meeting that saddened us and is not good for our community.
We counted about 10 city police officers and Sheriff’s deputies - including the police chief and sheriff - at the meeting. They were there, we assume, out of an abundance of caution; a sound decision by those charged with ensuring the safety of citizens.
Words can turn ugly when we feel we’re not being heard — and that’s the current state of the relationship between the Madison School Board, school administration and community members.
How unfortunate and how disappointing, though, that people — many of whom we know to be good people — have been labeled as disrupters. (Some of them proudly embrace the label as a badge of courage.)
How disappointing, too, that many of those same people chose to wear t-shirts bearing a “Fire Bolinger” message, doing little to help their image as thoughtful people with sincere concerns.
We saw angry community members Wednesday night. We saw defensive posturing by some school board members.
We saw something else Wednesday night…
Prior to the start of the meeting, some board members met informally with community members to give both sides a chance to listen. The one-on-ones were “civil and constructive” one board member told us.
Once the group mentality took over, however, the feel in the room changed to confrontational.
Groups of protesters attract big-city TV news crews and cause the local newspaper to send extra staff for coverage. When the cameras are on and the reporters’ notebooks are out the rhetoric is ginned up.
So, here’s what we think…
Shutting down the exchange of ideas should never be an option. The best route to resolution is for the board to become more transparent in how it makes decisions, and for community members to resist inflammatory actions.