On October 29, 2018 – I proudly headed to the Madison School Board Meeting, as, I have in past years, to listen proudly as the board resolved to recognize Parental Involvement Day in their school district. There was a part of me that was hesitant to attend this meeting, due to my personal discomfort with attention being casted towards me.
I am passionate about the work that I’ve done to encourage schools to create more efforts to acknowledge positive parental involvement, but don’t require recognition for it. I’m beginning to sound like many parents, that I’ve spoken to. Lol
Nonetheless, my husband and I arrived in the School Board Meeting room with anticipation of being recognized, acknowledging Superintendent Cheatham and her board members, hearing the creation of the Resolution and heading home.
Prior to the reading the Resolution, The Board allowed public comments on a matter related to “Continuing or ending Education Resource Officers in Schools.”One after another hostile students, comprised of the Brown and Black Student Association, approached the podium and delivered their 3 minute speeches to the board, laced with racial epithets, vulgar name calling of school board members and blatant opposition to the thought of allowing Education Resource Officers to remain in their schools.
Some students delivered what appeared to be sanguine arguments against the policy, supported with statistics of incidents, where Education Resource Officers, (in #other states) violated the rights of students. Others, posted ideas about how the district funds could be used for students of color and their family needs. The majority of requests were reasonable, but the messages were spewed with hatred and therefore lost in translation.
Other African- American & Hmong students, ended their opportunity to share their comments, (3 minutes) with choice words, laced with curse words for the Seniored School Board Member Mary Burke, who mispronounced the names of Hmong students without remorse or corrections. She seemed to not apologize when students loudly yelled the correct enunciation from the rear of the room. That failure to value diversity further aggravated many students who seemed to feed off the negative energy of their group.
The spewing of curse words towards School Board Members, accusations that they were White Spremacists, colonizers and #%%#%… bigots, with a few more curse words and public displays of hatred, took me by surprise.
I did not expect this type of outcries for students to go on for as long as it did. By 7:30, it seemed that the situation of angry, mob like students, opposing authority and Community Policing would end soon? It only got worse, as one student refused to yield the mic and began to yell and scream, along with chants from the audience. Each board member rose from their seats, as the announcement was made that the board would return, when the students who were protesting community policing, were able to calm down. The scene was really thought provoking and alarming.
I couldn’t sit in my seat any longer and rose to speak to the small group of students, who were inciting a riot like atmosphere. All I could think of was their frustrations about not being taken seriously, their feelings of helplessness and also how the members felt as they sat in the chairs, filled with angst, disdain and fear of the students.
We left when it seemed that the meeting was spiraling out of control. I later learned that the students took over the stage where the board was seated and waved a flag of Victory.
I’m still reeling from this experience and so saddened by what I heard, saw and experienced. One can only imagine how the board members felt as they sought refuge?
We need police to restore order in every situation. More importantly, we need the parents to come Too these meetings to observe, advocate for and contain negative behaviors where possible, of their young!