Couldn’t make it to last night’s Saint Paul School Board meeting.
Swiftee could, though (I’m adding my own emphasis here).
Board member Tom Goldstein spoke at length about his objections to the presence of military recruiters on school property; he barely made an effort to conceal his contempt for the two US Navy Master Chief Petty officers present.
He said that he was of a mind to make their job as hard as possible and went on at length about his objections to the war in Iraq. He also said that he “didn’t care if the war was not a school board issue”.
The district’s tanking test scores and dismal graduation rates bear him out on that fact.
Board member Tom Conlon, as ever the lone voice of sanity, pointed out that the board’s time would be better spent pursuing an improvement in the districts academic achievement
For starters, thank goodness for Tom Conlon; Swiftee’s right. If you follow the Saint Paul School Board long enough, you start to think that Tom is the only one in the bunch whose head isn’t swaddled in tinfoil.
But let’s look into this issue.
A small, vocal, and (because the board is so very hard-left) very well-connected group of students, parents and advocates in Saint Paul – almost universally white, upper-middle-class, and DFL – are voicing their distaste for the military. Their own kids are safe, of course – Saint Paul allows parents to sign an opt-out form that forbids recruiters from talking to their children.
But they want to make sure that no children are exposed to [what they regard as] the big, bad, evil US military.
These same people are leading a push to keep the services’ Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs out of the schools. These programs – whose enrollment is heavily if not mosty minority, in Saint Paul – teach discipline, self-respect (as opposed to self-esteem – a distinction that few in the SPPS seem to recognize), and organization; they also provide an entree into college-level ROTC programs, which may be the best chance for many of these kids to afford college. In exchange for five years in the military, these kids – many from the sort of straitened circumstances that the programs’ detractors merely drive past on the way to their yoga classes – can get a college education, and more importantly a good start in adult life.
But there are uniforms involved, so the granola-chomping, Whole-Foods-shopping, Highland-Park-dwelling detractors wrinkle their noses, and call their pet school board members to complain.
This battle is a class struggle, all right. It pits the patrician inner-city DFL against the people in this city that regard military service as an honor, or a gateway to opportunity, or one’s privilege as an American citizen.
Ironic, isn’t it? The Democrat “Farmer Labor” party stands, yet again, against the values of the farmers and the workers?
As no public comment was allowed at the meeting yesterday, I will be on the lookout for the next meeting on this subject. Suffice to say I will not miss the next one.