Being on the school board is at least an instructive or useful cork in our democratic system.
It is also highly effective in terms of educating young people and its direct impact on future generations.
Yet these days, for the growing number of more than 5,000 elected board members in California, this is becoming an almost impossible task, as they face angry protests over mask mandates, vaccination requirements and ethnic studies courses. Is. Critical race theory
Most of the meetings are becoming a mess in which the board members have to go through obstacles, name calling and abuse. Some board members are receiving death threats.
But unlike prominent government officials like Gavin Newsom, who face similar threats, they do not have the luxury of getting security details.
Things have gotten so bad that the California School Boards Association recently felt compelled. Host a forum Advise your members on how to get through this difficult time.
“The hostility we’ve seen over the last few months is unprecedented,” said Vernon Billy, the association’s executive director. “Everywhere you look today, the tide of protectionist sentiment is flowing.
But, he said, it’s not just about the lack of decency or the threats to their safety. “The biggest problem is that the current environment hinders the ability of school boards to do what they are chosen to do, and that is to serve our students.”
To deal with threats, school boards are being advised to increase security at meetings, and to set good expectations for decorum and acceptable behavior.
Board members have also been warned not to do anything hostile to protesters – and if someone makes a specific threat not to respond immediately, but talk to the district attorney for follow-up after the meeting. Do
“You don’t want interesting board meetings, you want boring meetings,” said Josh Daniels, general counsel for the Oakland Unified School District and a former school board member in Berkeley.
Daniels said that even in less tumultuous times, “being a board member is a very isolated experience.”
But, he said, “it’s really important to stick to why you ran for the board.” This is especially the case now. “Governing epidemics is probably the most important thing we can do right now to help keep our children safe and in school,” he said.
So what can be done? State School Board Association this week The government asked Newsom to order law enforcement to be more effective. And active in protecting school boards. National School Boards Association Appeal to President Biden Motivate federal authorities to “investigate, prevent and prevent existing threats and acts of violence against public school officials.”
It is hard to imagine that the federal government could respond to threats to a large number of schoolboards across the country. And overseeing local law enforcement and providing security for the monthly meetings of California’s nearly 1,000 school districts would be a huge and costly task.
Clearly, the protesters – and the organizations to which they belong – should work harder with the police themselves.
At the very least, a growing number of organization leaders are unhappy with the school board’s decisions, e.g. Let them breathe., Reopen California schools, informed California parents., And Mother for freedom, Proponents should be more direct and visible in stating that disruptive behavior, and any kind of intimidation, even veiled, is completely unacceptable.
In general, school board members need all of our cooperation, regardless of where we stand on conflicts that are making it difficult and in some cases dangerous for them to do their job.
Otherwise, this fundamental pillar of our democracy will disappear. Very few people would like to run for school boards. And in the end, the children of California will be the ones who suffer the most.
Louis Friedberg, formerly the executive director of AdSource, is an experienced California education reporter.