Be part of a school board? You deserve respect | Editorials

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In good times, serving on a school board isn’t exactly a thankless job, but it’s not exactly glamorous.

School board members typically approve textbook choices, hire everyone from cafeteria staff to superintendents, read the fine print in budgets, and brainstorm critical issues, such as whether the high school roof needs to be. replaced or if a new bus needs to be replaced. be added to the fleet.

But these are not good times. These are turbulent and uncertain times, and once snoozy school board meetings have recently become hot spots in battles over mask mandates and how issues revolving around race and social justice are taught. Anyone who ran for a school board seat just a few years ago could hardly have imagined it would come to this.

Earlier this month, a Canon-McMillan school board meeting came to an abrupt end when members of the public angry at the district’s masking policies did not put on masks themselves and caused a ruckus. One board member was the subject of sarcastic remarks because of his weight. Board meetings in other Pittsburgh-area districts, such as North Allegheny and Norwin, also dissolved into resentment and chaos. Similar disheartening scenes unfolded in other parts of the country.

This was apparently enough for some school board members to begin to seriously worry about their personal safety. Others reached their breaking point with threats, ridicule and unreasonable vitriol and tendered their resignations.

An Associated Press story late last month detailed how a Nevada school board member thought about killing himself amid threats and intimidation. Rick Grothaus, a school board member for a community near Milwaukee, said when he resigned that serving on the board had become “toxic” and the work they had to do “impossible.”

Grothaus told AP: “When I got there I knew it would be difficult. But I wasn’t ready or prepared for the vitriolic response that would occur, especially now that the pandemic seemed to bring everything out in a very, very harsh way. It made it impossible to really do meaningful work. “

And everyone should be concerned about the meaningful work being squeezed out due to the history of community members whose outrage has been fueled by media figures and misinformation online. They should also be concerned about the consequences of experienced, level-headed school board members who decide they have had enough and have had enough. It is certainly possible that in certain circumstances they will be replaced by people who are decidedly less qualified and come up with ideological workhorses to ride.

To borrow a phrase from President Biden: come on man. School board members deserve respect and praise for their hours, not contempt and abuse. Think about the example this sets. Do we want our kids to grow up to be the kind of people who scream, scream and drink in their mouths against school board members trying to do their best for their community?


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