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Monday, May 07, 2007

UPDATE: Board probably reconsidering uniforms at Reidsville schools - TIME TO MARCH BABY!

I just got back in from tonight's meeting of the Rockingham County Board of Education. The last time the board met during regular session, they voted to impose school uniforms (or "Standard Mode of Dress") next school year at Reidsville Middle School and Reidsville High School. It was an 8-4 vote (with Herman Hines abstaining) that came after a lot of parents and students spoke out against the uniforms during public comments. I said after last month's meeting that this is a way wrong measure the board passed and it should be rigorously opposed... as in "civil disobedience".

Well, tonight even more parents and students came out in opposition to the uniforms (and not one in favor of them, it must be noted). These were some of the most passionate and eloquent speakers that I've ever heard at a school board meeting... and a lot of them were high school students. Even more dire arguments against the uniforms were made, and it has come to light that apparently there may have been some data manipulation/massaging of facts going on that obscured the knowledge from many parents that this was about to happen. Well, from what I saw tonight, an awful lotta the people in this county are honked-off at the board for doing this.

At the conclusion of public comments, board member Steve Smith (who voted against the uniforms last time) tried to make a motion to reconsider the vote. He was told that only someone who had previously voted in favor of it could move to reconsider. It's also worth noting that Steve Smith made it quite clear that he didn't want the public's chain to be yanked on this: that the board should either say that it was going to discuss the matter again or that it wasn't going to do it any further. It was after this that a ten minute break was declared and most of the people attending left.

However, I stayed to the very end, right up 'til the board went into closed session. And this is what happened...

Board member Lori McKinney said that although she also voted to oppose the uniforms measure, that in light of the many people who came to speak out against it tonight, that she had to say that the board should re-examine this issue. No member who voted to approve the uniforms actually came out and moved to have a re-vote, but Reida Drum did state that she felt led to re-evaluate her stance on the uniforms, after considering everything that she had heard tonight. There's going to be some discussion about it at the next meeting.

I honestly don't believe that this board understands what it has done in mandating the uniforms at Reidsville Middle and Reidsville High. As one person told the board, this has only worked to incense many, many more people in Reidsville - and especially the students - instead of doing something positive at the schools, as the proponents of this thing might have claimed the uniforms would do. In any case, I think it was pretty clear to everyone (at least those sitting where I was in the peanut gallery) that if the board doesn't make some movement toward rescinding this thing and like yesterday, then quite a few of their political butts are going to be in a sling. More than one person told me tonight that they would run for school board against the sitting incumbents next time because of this issue.

(And in case anyone is wondering: I have never seen Ron Price look so sneering and condescending toward the people who came to the podium to speak as he did tonight... and I've got the videotape to prove it. Even if I didn't, a lot of people shared with me their disgust at his attitude.)

But this is what the board really should know: that tonight, quite a few people told me that they had read my report on this blog from the last meeting, and my call for the parents and students to disobey. Looks like it got circulated around a fair bit. More than I was really expecting. A lot more.

If the board doesn't move on this and soon, I believe there will be resistance from the parents and students. But I don't think that anything I really wrote had any bearing on that likelihood: it's probably going to happen no matter what might have been said here.

I don't want to see this ridiculous uniforms mandate - that is going to put a strain on too many families' pocketbooks - put into effect. At the same time, I do not want to see any real trouble come as a result of it either for the parents and students. Even though sometimes you have no choice but to draw the line and tell them "to this point and no further". Indeed, Americans have had to do that for the entire life of this country with their government. This time it's no different. But I'll do anything to see a nasty confrontation about this headed off before it comes to pass.

So, this is what needs to happen...

There were easily a hundred people or more at tonight's meeting. The next regular meeting of the Rockingham County Board of Education is at 7 p.m. on June 11th. There needs to be a hella lot more people at this next board meeting. If there were a hundred tonight, there needs to be two or three hundred next month. I would love to see enough people try to cram into the Central Office that it becomes a fire code violation and have the meeting forced to relocate to a bigger venue. And every single one of those people... or at least those who feel okay with speaking into a mike at a large gathering... needs to sign up to speak out against the uniforms.

I saw this meeting go until almost 11 o'clock tonight because of how many spoke this time. Wouldn't it be cool if there were enough speakers to make next month's meeting go until 1 or 2 a.m. the next morning?

There are some people on this board that I know quite well. That I have known for years and appreciate as much as anybody else. But all the same: if the public sentiment is really against this thing, and they don't feel led after that to rescind the vote, then we need to see a real battle of willpower erupt at the Central Office. Who can outlast who? Personally, I think those against school uniforms can go the distance.

So however you can, spread the word: we need to turn out in droves in the worst way come June 11th. I'll go ahead and say this now: I'm already planning on speaking. And I'm coming in armed with a bombshell that I've had waiting in my arsenal for more than ten years now. Some people at the meeting tonight know what I'm talking about.

Hell, I'm the guy who blew up a school just to try to get elected to the Board of Education. Don't think that I won't detonate something else (not literally 'course) if that's what it takes to see the right thing be done here.


Anonymous said...

I thought you were for school uniforms.


Chris Knight said...

I'm for the school dress code. As in, the dress code as it's currently in place. If enforced like it's supposed to be, that WOULD be enough.

I've never been for school uniforms. Not unless there was *overwhelming* support for it from the parents and students.

Anonymous said...

Well said Christopher. I too was at the BOE meeting on May 7. There was a lot of angry and ticked off people in that room. I really hope and pray the board takes notice and realizes that they made a HUGE mistake. To me, the only option they now have is to reverse their previous decision. To the board members that are reading this....do the right thing - change your vote to NO SMOD/Uniforms in Reidsville.