I was at the Sept. 26 Aiken County School Board and was appalled with the behavior of the supposedly educated and civilized adults who are members of that board.
Two gentleman and a lady appeared before the board with concerns that were not given simple courtesy. The atmosphere in the room for the very beginning was extremely tense. It was obvious the first speaker did not have the attention of the board. At the end of his speech he asked why the board would only hear two of the 15 potential speakers, saying that the board had used a rather liberal definition of the word "group."
Apparently, the board had assumed that all of the potential speakers were from one group of people. They were not. Did the board censor the remaining public? Since they were never asked about the affiliation with the first speaker, one must assume so.
When the second gentleman asked, "Why did the board object to the teacher survey?" diplomacy went out of the window. I was astonished to find that only one of the members had even seen the survey. How could any of the members find so objectionable something they had never set eyes on?
As for the survey itself, it asked seven basically information-only questions. Just one could be construed as "political," one of the objections to the survey. It asked for the e-mail address of the teacher, so that information could be passed quickly and inexpensively between the teachers and the legislature, which provides more than half of the $1.83 million to be spent by the school system this school year ...
Just before the meeting went into executive session, the members came into the audience to speak to the people. One board member was overheard to say, "Teachers have no rights," when asked why he thought the teachers should not have seen the survey. Is this why there are still six unfilled teaching position in the Aiken system? Teachers have every right under the Constitution, including the right of speech.
The school board received total autonomy two years ago, which basically gave them permission to raise taxes at will. They have done just that both years. This school board displayed a disturbing and offensive lack of concern for the parents and taxpayers who took an evening to come and express opinions to the board. I understand why there are usually few people at these meetings.
I have been told there had once been a motion to prevent any discourse with the public after a previous altercation with a speaker. I thought that the board, teachers, schools, principals and parents were supposed to work together, using dialogue rather than monologue from the board, to make the system better for the children. Only a new school board, one that is in touch with the parents and teachers, will accomplish that.
Richard Posey, Aiken