Saturday, November 13, 2010

Supporters Turn Out for North High



Post and videos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Due to another hearing I was at, I missed both the rally and the first part of the School Board meeting.  I captured as much of it as possible and will share that on my Youtube channel and NXNS.  In the videos above, Superintendent Johnson lays out her proposal for a new North High.  The big question marks come surrounding the external consultant who will help develop a plan, and the "design team."  Who will those people be, and how will they be selected?  Can these people be put in place in a way that builds and repairs community trust?

Those clips are somewhat dry, but the fireworks REALLY got started with the public comments...

...which were limited to two minutes apiece. First up, Mel Reeves called this situation "an opportunity."



We had a few speakers who went on about charter schools and privatization. Now, I appreciate the hard work that many of these organizers put in on behalf of North High. But I'm not sure how much of that privatization/evil corporate Wall Street takeover of public education sentiment is held by residents and North High supporters in the community. So, since camera batteries were limited, those folks weren't recorded.



Here we had "The Trash Lady," who has been very well-spoken at our North High events. Ironically, in contrast to some of the speakers I did not record, she made a plea that we treat North High in a similar fashion to a corporate model - even during road construction, keeping a business open is important for continuity.



Here was the first of several speakers who expressed their anger and disgust towards various School Board members.



Now, I've been both critical and complimentary towards Al Flowers before, and today is no exception. His frivolous court case against Don Samuels was swiftly and justly decided and he was on the losing end, not even collecting $3. But he was in top form tonight, calling out people like Bill English, Al McFarlane, and Randy Staten. "Let's tell on them...and that's what I do, I'm good at that."



It's worth noting that McFarlane and Staten were criticized rather frequently throughout the evening. Apparently Insight News at some point may have been supportive of a certain type of charter school, leading to serious community dissatisfaction. I'm unable to find the Insight article that has caused such a commotion though. What was surprising though, was the level of open disagreement directed at long-time community members such as McFarlane and Staten. I've heard grumblings about each of them, but this was the first time I'd seen such open criticism. Regardless of who you agree with, this was still noteworthy.

The young man below articulated broader problems, such as check-cashing outlets, while drawing the connection that we have enough money to build stadiums but not keep our schools open. I wonder though, if he realized he made this impassioned plea while wearing a Minnesota Wild hat. Sporting a logo of a team that plays in a publicly funded stadium kind of takes away from his point, unless he really likes irony.



Once again, the question of who the stakeholders and design teams would be was raised.



When I first met Gwendolyn Kinsman at the first protest, I immediately thought she would become one of the student leaders for the cause. Other people took note of her abilities as well, and she heard calls of "Future city council woman!" as she took the podium.



End of round 1 of speakers, more posts to follow.

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