THE RIDICULOUS GLIB IGNORANCE OF THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER
One always welcomes wise words from the DP. Let’s see what they have to say today. Title of the DP editorial, July 5, 2010:
“A tough lesson in government” – subtitle: “Foes of Mon County BOE’s decision on closing school should get on with it”
Wise words? One wonders: “get on with” what? The DP notes:
Last week, the Monongalia County Board of Education (BOE) … voted unanimously to close two local elementary schools and consolidate them into a future new school at a nearby location.
Though its decision was not popular with everyone, we believe the BOE’s decision was made in the best interests of its constituents across Monongalia County.
The five members of this board were elected and thus empowered by citizens in Monongalia County to make exactly such decisions, based upon due diligence.
Some continue to believe the board’s decision was based on a flawed process, too many unanswered questions and too many strings attached to an $8.6 million state grant.
We don’t. As a matter of fact, we believe the BOE made the best decision from not just a financial perspective, but in the best interest of both Easton and Woodburn elementary schools’ students, teachers and staff.
Now that is wisdom indeed, to blank out the facts involved, especially when the facts might cast some serious doubt on the conclusions.
Although the facts in this circumstance may continue to be disputed, there’s no reason to argue the principle of how our government works.
Practically no decision at any level of government – by any elected official – is met with absolute approval.
The decision on the closure and consolidation of these schools is certainly no exception.
This is why facts are often disputed: because one party gets them wrong. This closure and consolidation and school siting decision by the board is very exceptional. DP falsely claims that “practically no decision at any level of government – by any elected official – is met with absolute approval.” The evidence overwhelmingly refutes this. For example, the school board itself makes hundreds, probably thousands of decisions every year of which essentially no one disapproves. Hundreds of hirings, and servicings, and approvings of contracts, and field trips, etc and so on, must be made by the elected board. No one disputes the vast majority of these many, many decisions.
That is why – one should hardly need tell a newspaper – when great and prolonged controversy erupts around any given decision, there is often good reason to investigate. That seems to be a foreign word to the Dominion Post: investigate. Get all the facts. Clarify. Put in perspective. Explain. Don’t arrogantly state conclusions that are condescending and ridiculous, and that ring hollow, for scarcely, or not at all, being explained, let alone investigated with any authority or credibility whatsoever. Is Greer Industries, the owners of DP, too poor to hire an investigative reporter? A pity.
Some have suggested that citizens who disapproved of the BOE’s decision should sue the school board.
That clearly is their right – to challenge the board in court. However, courts duly recognize elected school boards’ charge and as a rule defer to their authority to make such decisions.
Another option for opponents of this decision is to file to run for a seat on the local BOE or support a candidate, who favors their agenda.
The DP is wrong again. It is too late to affect “this decision” by running for the school board. And WV law, unlike the law in other states, does not allow the recall of the school board, otherwise we would work to put that on the ballot in November: to recall and replace, in one vote, the entire school board.
Furthermore, the only new school board member elected this past spring was elected apparently largely on the basis of her public opposition to the 705/Mileground site for the new school. She was the only candidate (who was not a White Nationalist!) who opposed the Mileground site, and she was the only new candidate to get elected. Coincidence? It hardly looks that way. It appears that if the anti-Mileground-site crowd had not networked support for her, she would not have gotten elected. The DP should have investigated and reported on that but did not. Nor did the DP make much, or anything, of the fact that the school board scheduled its vote to close Easton and Woodburn the week before the new board member began her service. On the one hand, the Mileground siting votes had been previously taken. On the other hand, if you don’t vote to close a school, you can’t resite it, can you?
The DP is foolish enough to claim that “Although the facts in this circumstance may continue to be disputed, there’s no reason to argue the principle of how our government works.” There is every reason to make that argument, not that anyone has done so. However, if one wanted to, a great argument could be made that the principle of not allowing a recall referendum in WV is extremely detrimental to the interests of the public.
After all, the school board and the superintendent have acted terribly and irresponsibly toward the public. It gets far worse than even Board President Nancy Walker screaming at a member of the public to “Sit down!” when people dared attempt to discuss the architectural presentations. Never mind that the board failed to provide enough seating in the first place; there was no place to sit! In any case, Walker shut down discussion when 50 members of the public turned out to listen to and participate in discussion about the school siting options. Some serious sunlight needs to be shed on this mess. Every single meeting of the school board ought to be televised or taped and rerun on TV, like City Council meetings.
And if you are a parent and have some business before the board, you should contact a lawyer and have one at your side during any meeting. That way, when they deny your daughter her chance to go to a senior-year tournament because the coach forgot to file the paperwork on time, you might have a chance of getting the school board to penalize or temporarily suspend the coach, rather then to punish the victims, the student-athletes, which was the first preference of Superintendent Frank Devono and board member Joe Statler and the rest of the board, as they outrageously demonstrated at a board meeting this past spring.
And that is only the tip of the iceberg of how terribly Mon School officials conduct these vital public proceedings.
Even worse, as we have long documented, by keeping the consolidation and closing of Woodburn and Easton as quiet and hidden as possible from the parents especially, and by keeping the new horrible school site at the 705/Mileground intersection entirely secret as long as possible, Mon Schools has acted outrageously from the very beginning and throughout this entire process.
And the DP applauds Mon Schools and criticizes those who protest:
Our advice is that the group who opposed the BOE’s decision on closing Woodburn get over it.
Thanks, DP for the gratuitous and hollow advice.
Here’s a suggestion: that the DP conduct a thorough investigation into the scandalous actions of the Mon Schools BOE and administration.
Textbook examples of such investigations are available wherever one may find quality newspapers, and they are worth studying, soonest.