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I generally affirm the need for local control in our schools; life-giving community is vital for shaping our children and ourselves. I believe all local issues should be seen through a lens of local needs and events.

Yet I am concerned when BOE members raise the banner of local control, yet blindly follow the National Republican Committee playbook. Though registered as a Republican for 46 years, I recently noted changes in language: The __ Party “won” the house or senate.

This suggests the value of control, having no need to listen to another side.

Many of you dislike this extreme partisanship — which openly discourages American and moral values of activism, democracy, unity, community participation — yet is just what I and the next generation witness at BOE meetings. Essentially, The Republicans have won the BOE. We don’t have to listen. Once we’re elected, democracy dies. And along with it, the community’s expression of critical needs or wants. The board will do as it pleases.

For example, if any parent, teacher, or community member wanted to research and comment prior to adopting the proposed social studies standards, they had a very limited time as the name of the standard was released only after parent request about 30 hours before the meeting. Most did not know until it was adopted. This change was not made because parents, students, or teachers requested it, but in lockstep with a national political party.

Recent decisions allowing acceptance of charterschool applications at any time, as well as the hiring of a superintendent for whom charter schools forms his only education leadership experience, hints at plans to increase charter schools or transition to a fully chartered district. (Our district has one, just over one year old.) Yet I have heard no parents asking for more charter schools. Is the BOE trying to meet the needs of families, or a national political party?

Non-charter district schools provide transportation and meals for students (services not typically provided by charter schools). These are provided at no cost to low-income families (25% of our district). It’s necessary for equal access to schools. Would you be OK with our sales tax money being used to support an online charter school for students that do not reside in our community?

If these changes are truly in the best interest of the community and democracy, why is the BOE in a hurry? Why do they come to meetings with decisions seemingly already made without public discussion, or cut community input in half during meetings?

Why not intentionally seek input from parents at all the schools? If choices are best for the community, why not be transparent? If this history standard is beneficial, why not solicit professional educators’ opinions? If you believe all our teachers to be liberal in their beliefs and intent on leading our children astray, you do not know them. If you believe all angry or protesting parents or students are progressive or dumb sheep, you are misled. What are our students learning about democracy, and how to lead generations after them?

In my occupation, I have met thousands from our community. Whether or not they align with my beliefs, they are part of my community; they are opportunities for me to wholeheartedly care. People who think differently greatly enrich my life and bring genuine joy. And behold — some are Democrats! When they are hurting, I care.

Many of us are turned off by some of the protests at BOE meetings, but in maturity and with compassion we can look beyond the noise to consider why they are protesting. People get loud when pain involves their jobs, children and community. Many feel the BOE actively dismisses their concerns, the community’s concern.

Reader, I ask you to stand together for your community, imploring the BOE to place community before politics, to listen to parents and staff, and to be forthcoming. Reach out to BOE members by phone or email (see Attend BOE meetings. Visit schools to get facts for yourselves.

If we can’t surmount differences and work together for this beloved little town and the survival of our schools, our country has little hope of conquering this terrible divide.

Carol Greenstreet is a Woodland Park resident.

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