Becky and I went to a school board meeting last night to get some information about our district becoming an open district. It was the first time I’ve been to any kind of board meeting since I left my reporting career over a decade ago. I had some flashbacks to those days and was happy I didn’t have to stay up late after the meeting digging through budgets and reading between the lines to file my stories about the meeting and the board.
This is a contentious topic and my experience with these kinds of meetings prepared me for some ugliness during the public comment, but this meeting was worse than even I was prepared for. It was a glaring reminder to me about how much civility we’ve lost as a society toward those we disagree with. It was disgusting. I was on the side of those who were the worst behaved but it didn’t take long before I was constructing arguments in my head against their cause just because they were pissing me off so much.
There was too much booing and shouting down opposing voices but the worst were the people who had their cell phones set for the 3 minute time limit and would start screaming about time when the time was up. The board members didn’t help the situation at all and let too many speakers go over their time and on a couple of occasions even tried to defend themselves against the commenters. It was shameful all around.
The final thing I was struck by was the make up of the board. So far I haven’t had any major complaints, but looking at all of those old white men in suits with the scattered cold, professional older woman thrown in for diversity I was disappointed. This is the same make-up of every political body across the state and across the nation that has gotten us into the trouble we’re in. We need more than token diversity and we need some youth on these boards.
Anybody else been to school or town board meetings recently?