People want to know when the Beaufort County Board of Education is going to grow up.
That’s the reaction I’ve gotten this week after saying they ought to be sent back to the fifth grade.
I visited fifth graders at Red Cedar Elementary School in Bluffton to talk about editorial writing.
They were so well behaved and respectful, it made we wonder why we cannot expect the same thing from the school board.
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The so-called adults are slamming each other in emails, and bullying each other at board meetings.
According to emails they’re sending around this week, one board member supposedly said she wished another would fall off a cliff or just drop dead.
Board chairman Earl Campbell recently said those who ask questions — who are immediately disparaged as being negative — are going to hell.
A lawyer was hired to call out board member JoAnn Orischak of Hilton Head Island and suggest legal ramifications when she said Superintendent Jeff Moss should resign. That’s called high-stakes bullying on somebody else’s dime — the lowly taxpayer.
Orischak said it sends a message to all board members that if they question the hierarchy, or speak their minds, they will pay.
Meanwhile, fifth graders are showing RESPECT at Red Cedar Elementary. It came as no surprise that I got a hand-written note of thanks from their teacher. Respect begets respect. She can teach respect because she knows respect. She practices it. It’s a deliberate act.
At Red Cedar, RESPECT is an acronym for student goals and expectations. It stands for: responsibility, empathy, self-discipline, being positive, effort, cooperation and trustworthiness.
Many other teachers, principals and clean schools full of well-behaved children are practicing the same, no doubt.
But here’s how one reader responded to that report:
“I agree with your column. Respect is always best. But how do we get our school board to behave as well as 5th graders when the elements of RESPECT have nothing to do with how they are selected to run for office?”
I guess that’s where we peon citizens come into the picture. School board members are selected by voters. So it will be up to the masses to tell the school board that they’re not going to take it anymore.
Fifth graders don’t innately behave at school. They do what is expected of them. They’ll do as much bad stuff as they can get away with.
We’re letting the school board get away with too much. The board let the superintendent get away with too much after he paid a big fine for violating state ethics standards.
We can demand more of them. We can expect more. Fifth graders don’t innately behave themselves. They behave when it is expected of them. They behave when rules are firmly enforced so consistently that they behave without even thinking about it.
Nobody has a problem with school board members — or Hilton Head Island Town Council members — disagreeing with one another.
But they can still be civil to one another and to the public. What’s wrong with them?
The message I’m hearing is that they need to go back to the fifth grade because the rest of the world has too much to do to be piddling around with them.