Thursday, November 20, 2014

One minute is the new "two minutes" at APS public forum

Once, long ago, speakers at school board public forums were allowed to speak for three minutes.  Now it is two.  Except that now it's one - at any meeting where more than15 people show up to speak.  Of late, a lot of people are standing up at public forum.

After years of neglect, public forums are building steam;
the simplest manifestation of government of the people
and by the people.

The last time School Board Member Marty Esquivel ran for the school board, he, I and others were participating in a school board candidate forum.  He was addressing some issue and prefaced his response by pointing out that the two minutes he had to speak, were not enough to build a cogent argument on any substantial issue.

I nearly laughed out loud.

Because as a school board member he has never given the community members he serves more than two minutes to speak.   And that, only once every two weeks, or less.

Esquivel is the architect of the Board's new governing rules over public forum.  The rules declare; if more than 15 people stand up to speak, their two minutes just became one.

The "speech" that speakers might have spent hours shortening, is now two times too long.  What are they to do; read the first half, the last, the middle, every other word?  Frustration lead one speaker to leave the meeting rather than play the game on a lopsided field.

The board, according to Esquivel's rules, will accept a written presentation from those who cannot say what they need to say in 60 seconds.  But first, the written presentation will be reviewed and abbreviated as necessary by school board staff

Once, NM State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones stood up at the public forum in a school board meeting and delivered a petition carrying more than 100 signatures of community members in support of the board's recognition of a Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.

When asked some time later in a different context, why the board had seemingly ignored that petition, School Board Member David Robbins said he/they had never read nor even seen it.

There is a new camera covering school board meetings from the back of the room.  They won't say why they need that perspective, but, if you viewed the record from that camera during public forum, you would see school board members "not looking at speakers".

Whether they're tapping, texting, tweeting or twerking
is hidden from cameras and public view behind a
couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of Kevlar and hardwood.

I have participated in public forums in public meetings of the APS School Board more or less regularly since 2006.

I began attending regularly at the time when the board had voted unanimously remove the role modeling clause from their own ethics and standards.  The role modeling clause once read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult, be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
I found their abdication outrageous; cowardly and corrupt.

I found it so, in the context of a set of beliefs I held and hold still.
I arrived at those of beliefs at the behest of my employer; the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.
Thirty teachers had been selected, I among them, to attend training in Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

APS paid my salary, my sub's salary, and for Character Counts! Founding Father Michael Josephson to come to Albuquerque to enable us to embrace a set of beliefs.  We were to take it so seriously that we were to go out into schools and communities and "preach" those beliefs - on behalf of the board!
The Pillars of Character Counts!, link, are APS student standards of conduct.  Whether they should or should not be is moot; they are. Every year since 1994, when the board unanimously adopted them, the board has reiterated it's expectation that students "model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!"

It was, and still is outrageous that they would simply (try to) abandon their obligations as the senior-most role models of accountability to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.
Rather than listen to me ask them;
Is there even one of of you who will explain to students, in words they can understand;
why students are expected to hold themselves actually and honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, 
school board members are not.
They have gone to some pretty extraordinary; illegal and unethical lengths to keep me from asking the question and them from being on the record stonewalling instead of responding on the public record.

They have edited the tapes they broadcast to stake and interest holders, deleting my questions and more importantly, their unwillingness to response.  At one time, they once moved the public forum outside the meeting to keep if off the record.

There is not one of them willing, to this day, to explain why there are two standards of conduct in the APS;
  • one set of higher standards for students and 
  • other much lower standards for school board members, superintendents, and anyone else they decide to shelter under the umbrella of legal weaselry, unlimited budgets and self and subordinate oversight.

photos Mark Bralley


Anonymous said...

I was watching last night when a woman was speaking. She suddenly stopped and was looking toward the back of the room, then asked if she should continue. Do you know what was going on, perchance?

ched macquigg said...

I didn't see; it was behind me. My impression was that a small child was running away from her mother and one, the other or both tripped and ended up on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Oh thanks, I was afraid someone was being arrested again!