Every time some starry-eyed fool attempts to sell me on the idea that I should submit myself to the illusion of public schools because those schools are subject to democratic oversight and control, I think of stories like this one.
Donna Pike, a school board member in Alabama, has earned a roasting after an activist informed their community about some of Pike’s Trumpish Roseanne-loving posts on Facebook.
The offending posts included one disputing former-Obama official Valerie Jarrett’s status as a black person, and another suggesting Michelle Obama is less than patriotic.
Pike had a defense for her actions.
Here it is:
“I shared it, and I’m not sorry I did…And I meant it because it shows hypocrisy in our country. Some people can get away with it and some people can’t. It was not racist…It had nothing to do with color. It had nothing to do with race…I’ve seen all kinds of people say vile, ugly remarks on the media, on television and some of ’em get in trouble. Some of ’em don’t. I thought that was a way to show the hypocrisy that happens.”
Were Pike easily disregarded as one sock lost in the dryer we could move on.
But she is not aberrant. She’s more common than we think. Elections are weak. It takes little to win a board seat in many of America’s podunks.
If you watch school boards as I do, you get to see just how nutty then can be, and it should worry you.
Watch a few of Seattle’s or Minneapolis’ school board meetings for instance and you’ll likely feel as though someone put peyote in your tea and turned on Mork and Mindy reruns.
At times you will wonder how people watching over nearly billion dollar budgets and huge workforces are able to get their pants on in the morning.
There are even crazier stories too. Like…
The school board member who called Martin Luther King’s holiday “National Nigger Day.”
The one who said of a transgender student “serious ‘confusion’ issues needs professional assistance, and not at taxpayer expense!”
The one who proclaimed ““God created four races – white, red, yellow and black….Man created a fifth race through rape, slavery and prostitution – the mixed race.”
The one whose son played in a basketball game wearing a jersey with racial slurs.
The one who protested online about the removal of Confederate monuments by saying “if we are going to [take] our statues down” to pretend “our history” didn’t happen…[then] the Africans need to be sent back…if history is being rewritten then go all the way.”
Or, the two school board members honest and foolhardy enough to openly acknowledge that racial and economic integration is not what their constituents want.
I hear you thinking…
You’re going to say “come on man, you can’t paint all school board members or school boards with a brush dirtied by these silly, racist, homophobic outliers.”
You can’t dismiss the important role of school boards in our democracy just because the oven of low turnout elections heavily influenced by public worker unions produces an occasional fruitcake.
A few rotten apples.
The point here isn’t school board members need to be perfect. It’s the opposite. We need to lose the precious fantasy about how the existence of elected school board members shields us from grift, weird behavior, racism, sexism, threats to children, and so on.
I support schools outside of that system, so if your best argument against me is the beauty of school boards I’ll have to tell you that dog don’t hunt.
So, back to our Trump-a-lump in BackwardBama. Ms. Pike.
Watch the video below to her initial response to being called out for racism (she has since apologized) and you’ll see why it’s cold comfort for people of color that public schools are overseen by people of sterling character are elected to school boards.