I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, February 18, 2011

School Board Votes 5-0 For Random Drug Testing Policy--Media Portrayal Weak

...But to read the accounts in the local Media there was a contentious crowd in opposition to the policy!

The reality? There were very few speakers present, and of those who spoke there was an equal number of speakers supportive of the policy--including serveral middle school principals.  Also absent from the media's weak coverage--the important reasons why the board was taking action and the justifications for this policy.

None of the important issues--legality, precedent (U.S. Supreme Court Rulings in support),  and necessity (how about detailing the two year drug related expulsion data-media?)--none of these issues which board members discussed at length with one another made it into any account of the meeting.

Nope--It is just important to show one parent saying "This policy bothers me"

And It is apparently much more important, interesting and informative to report that "Susan Watson of the ACLU" spoke in opposition to our policy.  Susan Watson was mentioned in every media account of last night's meeting, and I guess that, in and of itself, must be newsworthy.  Okay,I guess, if you say so....

I only wish the media showed or described her jumbled, stammering, awkwardly delivered prepared remarks which essentially parroted her counterpart Ben Stevenson's badly flawed and inaccurate PNJ viewpoint piece from a few weeks back.

                                                                     It was a "fail"

His piece was bad--but her attempted regurgitation of his piece was even worse-- and more importantly-- it was off-point and ineffective.

I looked her in the eye and rhetorically asked the million dollar question during the meeting -  "Why are we in Escambia County 'Government Bullies' for proposing a random testing policy--Yet Santa Rosa County Schools (With which the ACLU is very familiar) has been doing this for years-and that's okay?

It's a fair question for which the ACLU has no answer because there is no good answer they can give.  They are either hypocritical or ignorant.  And our media, either terrified of the ACLU or  totally enamored with them--failed to report this newsworthy and intriguing aspect of the meeting.

                                                                     Another "fail"

Here's the bottom line of the important aspects of last night's meeting:

ACLU Watson's remarks would never sway me--but more importantly-- she failed to sway an essentially center, center-left leaning school board and superintendent that she and the ACLU was right and the board had it wrong on random drug testing.

Instead, she and those of her opinion were rebuked with a show of solidarity by the school board; Our board debated, discussed, and ultimately voted unanimously to pass this policy despite the fact that the ACLU and those of similar mindset dislike it.

That's the story that did not get reported by our "so-called" local media.

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