Bill O'ConnorCity - County Gov.HendersonvilleNews Stories

Is education a sport or a concert?


By Bill O’Connor –

The first thing you notice on entering the Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) Administration building is that the reception space is filled with photographs. The walls on either side contain photos of every sport played in elementary, middle and high schools; some are posed pictures, but most are action shots. They are really good work. There are also a few photos of band and orchestra, presumably of the students. I didn’t see any identification on any of them. Music and sports are important aspects of developing well rounded adults, then it dawns on you that there are no photos of scholars; nothing at all that suggests academic achievement or excellence. The Administration and Board of Public Education (BOPE) members always have excellence in academics on their lips; they just don’t display any evidence of it on their most prominent walls. We can only hope that at least a little pride in learning might one day find its way to the lobby of the HCPS Administration Building, but perhaps given the Lisa Edwards’ led BOPE defense of the poor performance of young American scholars in world competition, it won’t happen, at least not while Ms. Edwards and rest of this BOPE serves.

The BOPE meeting led off with the usual awarding of certificates. This month there was at least some connection to academics, in that they were for extracurricular language competitions and area, state and national wins for our high school journalists and yearbook writers. Especially impressive were the awards for the West Henderson newspaper, cited as among the top 20 in the country and national recognition for the yearbook as well. We hope these awards get as much public recognition in the lobby of the HCPS building and the schools as in the BOPE meeting.

School Security Problems Are All But Solved

The time of fear and trembling is over; our esteemed legislators in Raleigh are sending us psychologists, psychiatrists and councilors to secure our schools as the HCPS anxiously waits with panting breath and pounding hearts for the new money and people. They will soon be on the way. There will be money to hire them; but not to pay their second year salaries of course. That will be our Henderson County privilege, or a state tax increase. I’m sure the first security thought of each of us is what school counselor or psychologist we would want to have with us if confronted with an armed evil madman. Of course there will also be money for new police as school guards. Why do so many opposed to arming willing and able school people not also oppose police in the schools? What is it about police that makes anti-arming folks comfortable? That’s right. Its guns! But only in hands of government, never law abiding citizens. By all means let us not arm willing people already on staff, when we can hire more, possibly, union eligible people. After all, the legislature has made it OK for public employees to join a union in right-to-work North Carolina. And if these police are HCPS employees we may have armed union employees before you can say pay-your-dues-right-here. After all who would buy a firearm to protect his own family when he can hire a government security service? We will soon have to expand all our schools to make room for the endless hordes of those who don’t teach and are not students. For even more discomfort with government guards, read what Machiavelli has to say about mercenaries in “The Prince”.

Actually, in response to our writing these last few months on the sorry state of security in our schools, HCPS heard a presentation on an electronically controlled entry system at their monthly meeting last Monday the 15th. Even BOPE members seemed to recognize that such a system is just the first ring in a series of increasingly stronger rings of defense around our children. A determined mad or evil person would be slowed down by the system, but stronger rings would need to back it up. The product and accessories displayed would, to be useful and effective, end up costing in vicinity of $6,500 per school. The BOPE led by “Chairperson” Bazzle and Member Corn, decided by consensus to implement a one school pilot at Bruce Drysdale which is currently undergoing renovation. They will ask for $100 thousand in the next budget to extend the implementation to all elementary and middle schools. We hope they will concentrate the effort in those younger grades. High schools, most with more than one building, are both more complicated to defend like this and harder to attack, being filled with strong young men; Flight 93.

What has happened to the Security Task Force? No one mentioned it at the April Meeting. Even the mother who asked for it has decided to limit her concern to her own child’s school. Is it possible we are about to be treated to a massive misdirection worthy of David Copperfield, consisting of hugely increased spending on hardware and of course lots more people, rather than a coherent review of our sorry security practices? Bet on it. No reflective thinking; no citizen involvement or hearings; no community involved standards. Just spending and hiring – endlessly; it’s just all cosmetic nonsense and empire-building; all for the children of course; for security; except the only ones who seem to benefit are security toy vendors and all our new employees; just more fetid swamp water from their Wake County headwaters. I guess the Task Force is to be saved for after the tragic security breach. Ben Franklin warned that those willing to trade freedom (our money) for security will get, and deserve, neither.

If you have ideas on any of this, the next BOPE meeting with public comment is May 15th, 6:30 at 4th and Buncombe streets.

If you have private concerns on any county issues including school security, that need to be aired publicly, contact me with complete confidence in our respect for your privacy or or call 828 890-0412.

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