By Jim Bowman
At Julian middle school on Oct. 9, the district superintendent greeted the assembled "citizenry," come for "tonight's festivities," which was putting too fine a glow to it in my book. But this was nothing compared to his effusive welcome "to our legislators," two state senators and two state representatives, who had come to be grilled, more or less, by three schools-connected ladies, probably each a mother of a district student.
There's "gridlock in Washington," he noted, as if to contrast distant Washington with less-distant Springfield, where legislators have been locked in combat about pension reform for many months and only recently received their pay checks after the court ruled the governor out of order for punishing them for being locked in combat for so long.
Additionally, the citizenry had not materialized as expected, to judge by the empty chairs filling half the space in a small meeting room, for a total of 40 or so citizens seated, including two village board members and presumably the school board also. Indeed, on entering this room — from the mall-like entry way to the school — one felt it was like church, with all seated as far back as they could. What's more, the entire front two rows were reserved and so marked — for whom it was never clear, because they remained unoccupied throughout the 90-minute meeting.
Undaunted, the superintendent proceeded with the proceedings, reading a lengthy "strategic plan" statement, head down, standing at a lectern to the far left of two tables, one for the school mothers, another for the senators and representatives. He did so, he said, so that the senators etc. would know "where our board is coming from."
This statement included such staples of education-boosters as "challenge" and "risk-takers."
Having read it, he then read his welcome message, including several paragraphs on "why we are here" and congratulating the organizers of "this forum" of citizen (mother)-questioners and the four legislators on hand. It "took a lot of work," he said. "It took a year," spent presumably in prepping the questioners, formulating questions, and (probably most time-consuming) in scheduling the all-star cast of senators and representatives.
He introduced these one by one, asking and getting "a hand" for them, and did the same for the three CLAIM members (Committee for Legislative Action, Intervention and Monitoring) who would do the questioning, and we were off to the races. Let the questioning begin, the superintendent might have said.
– more more more to come of this Oct. 9 Julian middle school gathering of eagles –
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