Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article to not represent the thoughts and views of CCA Pulse staff or CCA as a whole.
When one thinks of a board meeting, reality TV-esque drama might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But after observing last week’s school district town hall in which insults were hurled, feelings hurt, and dignities lost, it’s hard to say that I’ll ever think otherwise.
We have all known our district board to get heated at times: Namely, with regards to reopening campus in January. One board member in particular has become quite infamous among students for their brazenly insensitive comments, which would provide the means for an Instagram account in opposition to these views. In this case, however, seeing is truly believing, and it was both an enlightening and entertaining experience for myself to do so.
Five minutes in, tensions were already brewing between the two factions that I quickly began to distinguish from one another. On one side definitively stood the Rancho Santa Fe-living, country club-going “concerned parents”, whose loud defense for reopening was only obscured by their persistent mimicry of various Trump-grade jabs. One could picture these individuals shouting “stop the steal!” from behind their baroque entry gates and meticulously manicured front lawns. On the other side were the meeker, Left-leaning, liberal arts-educated ilk, who seemed to turn various shades of red everytime they were called out. This is the type to be most often associated with the California elite, and it was enthralling and disturbing to see their diplomatic responses drowned out by the former group’s pragmatic prose.
If Real Housewives of North County were to ever exist, Earl Warren Middle School would be its center stage. Almost comically, the video camera that beamed the school board’s meeting to Zoom was like a stand-in for the one used on tabloid talk shows. Not once during my entire watching did I hear anything of substance, other than the occasional timid banter that was, most often, overwhelmed by another member’s misgiving.
But the portion that was most remiss was when Principal Justin Conn of Earl Warren arrived to punctuate the ongoing chaos in the room, and to give his opinion on whether he felt his school was ready for students to return to campus (his answer was a tentative yes). Conn wasn’t even finished with his reasoning before he was interrupted by a board member who demanded a break.
How can we honestly expect anything to get done in this school district when we have a dysfunctional board that has been severed by infighting? The egregious overstepping of boundaries that I witnessed during the board meeting on February 16th was definitely not unique. This has happened time and time again, and will likely continue to happen until we see this behavior as a necessary catalyst for change. Having students’ voices on the sidelines just isn’t enough.
From the perspective of a student myself, I truly believe that there is a better way to attack the reopening than by staging a kangaroo court which, more frequently than not, devolves into the two sides that I previously delineated. Given that we’re supposed to be #1 school district in the county, I am sure that some of our community’s brilliant thinkers can put their heads together and come up with a compromise. It’s both ridiculous and, frankly, an embarrassment to be writing this piece altogether — but resolving these issues should be at the forefront of our attention right now.