I’m still reeling from the experience yesterday at the school board meeting.
My ears are still ringing from the vulgar backlash that many of the school board members received from a small group of militant community members and students of color.
Never have I heard expletives used in a public forum without interruptions from young students and their comrades. I kept telling myself, that the worst would end soon and then the board would be able to get to the business at hand. Little did I know or any of the other attendees, that a planned siege was taking place as we sat by helplessly, and listened to student after student curse and share their verbal protests against community policing in their schools. I was taken aback by their vivid use of expletives to express their frustrations at the board members, who held a private meeting from 4-6pm, before appearing on stage to unknowingly participate in the vulgar backlash, from students and some adults, who represented different militant organizations throughout the city.
As, I listened attentively to many of the students, it was apparent to me that they were presenting valid points about their opposition to community-policing in their schools. Several students garnered my attention with real statistical data, albeit the data was primarily about police brutality in other schools, in other states. I didn’t see how that was relevant to the need or lack of for police in their respective school, which I choose not to name. Nonetheless, I found myself juxtaposed between two positions of thought.
The first position was one of piety for the students, who were demonstrating to the best of their ability and advocating for students of color. They yelled and screamed and worked hard to convince the school board to end the presence of police in their schools, for a host of reasons. I shared their sentiments and for a moment thought about what school would be like, without the presence of Education Resource Officers, at that particular school. I tried to visualize an eruption of violence breaking out and wondered if any of these students could settle the matter amicably?
My second and final position of thought occurred when a school board member, pronounced a Hmong student’s name wrong and refused to apologize or correct her error. She stated to the students ‘THAT SHE WAS SORRY AND TRIED TO SAY IT CORRECTLY.” THE STUDENTS TOWARDS THE BACK AND FRONT OF THE AUDITORIUM ERUPTED IN YELLING AND DEMANDED THAT SHE REPEAT THE NAME CORRECTLY.” The anger of the students and constant berating of said school board member, created further hostility, more vulgar comments, yelling and screaming by students, until someone finally at the school board table, instructed the technician to turn the mike off.
When I witnessed students moving closer to the stage and yelling for what seemed like eternity at the school board members; I wondered how things would end and who would bring their debacle to and end? There were already district officers in the halls and that didn’t seem to change the diatribe or direction of the yelling from students. I found myself wondering, whether or not the presence of their parents, accompanying these minority children to the meeting and standing to speak on their behalf, would have made a difference? I wondered if the district would have heeded the requests of the students to vote against police officers in their schools, if a larger parent presence was seen during the meeting. It saddened me to watch these children beg for representation, consideration and respect from adults, without the proper guidance, strategy or adult presence. Why weren’t their parents there to support their causes. Did the parents even know that the few students, who stood to speak were going to do what they were doing, which was a planned effort to shut-down the school board meeting and prevent critical votes on matters related to budgets, safety and yes – even voting on the resolution that recognized parental involvement in schools?
Why was it that these students felt as if they had no other choice, but to COMMANDEER the stage and literally force the board members to exit for their own safety?
Why weren’t more parents there?
If, these young children acted this way in the presence of their peers and adults, in a public forum, how can taxpayers advocate against police presences in their particular schools? What would make them not riot and intimidate others in the halls and within their classrooms? Did their parents know that their young were making attempts to erode a democratic process, in search of validation of their ability to divide and conquer. Where were their parents and how do the students communicate to them – what they did to make their voices heard on that night? Radio talk show hosts are asking questions of government and school board members and yet, they haven’t dared to ask this very important question, out of fear the that they will be viewed as racist.
Please afford to me an opportunity to embellish my thought and ask the question on behalf of others who silently wonder – ‘WHERE WERE THE PARENTS’?..