Make more effort to involve the public

By John Rajcic

One could make the argument that our Constitution was in contravention of the existing law at the time of its ratification, the Articles of Confederation. It was not too unusual for Jefferson to speak of Virginia as his country.

Ratification of our Constitution was not a shoo-in. After much debate, our Founding Fathers concluded that a democratic form of government could readily lead to confiscation of private property and mob rule. Consequently, we “pledge allegiance to the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands.”

Further, Article IV of the Constitution guarantees that the states will have a republican form of government. Article I section 3 of our “Secular Bible” is an affirmative action program for small states like Wyoming. At best one could say we have a representative-democracy in that we the people elect others to do our bidding .

Not long ago a board member stated that the school board is the most democratic institution in our land. After attending the last school board meeting, I would conclude it is one of the least democratic institutions.

It is true that the board bylaws permit people to speak of their general concerns and any agenda item for three minutes, if they fill out a card in advance. Input given is not responded to; there is no discussion. One would think the board would say as a minimum “we will take your concern under advisement and get back to you.”

We the people do not run down to the “schoolhouse” to see what will be on the agenda. We trust our representatives. Even if we did read the legally-posted agenda, it would more than likely conceal more than it reveals. The point is we the people occasionally drop in on a board meeting and important votes are taken by the board without any public discussion.

Other than school employees, there are few, if any, people at school board meetings or people who stay for the entire meeting. It is rather boring to sit at a meeting while the board is chatting small talk of no significance. There seems to be no urgency, all is well, when it isn’t.

The board should not fear conflict. Conflict leads to improvement of the structure and functioning of an organization. The meeting should be more open and receptive to dialogue, especially since few citizens attend the board meetings.

Even after board discussion of an item, prior to the vote of the board, the board president should occasionally ask, “Does anyone in attendance have anything to say about this matter?” Deliberately involve people. In the dialogue and exploration of alternatives, the more competent administrator will be apparent. When things get out of hand, invoke the three-minute rule or even adjourn the meeting. The board should induce excitement and involvement of the community.

Ninety percent of our kids are in public schools, and public education is under attack and needs support. A citizen sitting through a board meeting should walk away supportive.

John Rajcic is a Ramona resident.

   
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