I want to thank Gary Rappaport for his letter on Jan. 29 regarding the actions by the educational leadership in Hastings. No one wants to see any harm come to any child and we want to protect their well-being in all respects. The Central Office made its decision.
What concerns me is not only the outcome per se, but also the process of making their determinations. In my opinion, and I probably represent a minority view, I have witnessed a change in culture over the past 18-24 months. I don’t know if this is “cancel culture” or something else. There are new restrictions on public comment at board of education meetings; if questions are posed or raised they can be viewed as “discrediting” someone. We are already living in a restricted and more isolated life due to the pandemic. So a current flow of information and ideas seems more critical. Recently, the posting of the board of education minutes and videos needed to be challenged so they could be made accessible to the public. What is going on here? There was never a problem in the past with seeing the minutes.
We have more than a $50,000,000 school budget so that everyone’s access to timely minutes seems important as well as expected. Past practice would deem this quite normal. Years ago there was a Citizens Budget Advisory Committee that allowed discussion and give and take about costs, revenues, etc. Now we have Budget 101, which creates a different process and participation. When I proposed to the board of education the formation of a task force of the very talented and successful business people here to address board of education finances and the budget, I got ignored, not canceled.
So I am not sure if this is properly named the “cancel culture” or something else. It seems more restrictive, controlled, and less inclusive. In my opinion it is not as healthy as it could be. I hope that more people will get involved and keep our environment growing and vital.