Tuesday, June 28, 2005

We Make Our Presence Felt

The Board of Education meeting last night was just plain goose-bumpy. The room was packed, literally standing-room only, with dozens of people holding up signs saying "Teach The Facts," and occasionally other mottoes, like -- "Dude, Where's My Education?"

I can't say enough about all the speakers that sat at the table, one after the other, mostly students or recent MCPS graduates, including some gay students and fomer students, their young voices telling the board what no ideology-driven adult can explain: they want the facts, they want to be treated with respect. The applause rang through the room after each one, and the board listened intently as these young people -- you can't call anybody this brave a "kid" -- spoke with wit, with sorrow, with passion. The adults who spoke -- Chris, Karen, Tish -- were forceful and composed, and the students were steady and sure, funny, articulate, passionate.

Speakers for the evening included:
  • Jason Tseng, (MCPS Churchill alumni)
  • Karen Troccoli (former CAC member)
  • Jeff Rezmovic (MCPS Churchill alumni)
  • Christine Grewell (TTF.org)
  • Alex Kovalchuk (Churchill student)
  • Matilda Young (MCPS Churchill alumni)
  • Jordan Barker (MCPS Churchill student)
  • Tish Hall (TTF.org)
  • Andrew Bennet (MCPS Whitman alumni, former CAC student rep)

That's nine people speaking in support of a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum! Beautiful. I could fill ten pages with quotes, it was just so nice. Totally positive -- board member Gabriel Romero thanked us publicly afterwards and said the comments were "very well done," and Nancy Navarro also said during the meeting that the board appreciated our participation and that they were listening.

Here's how Ex-Recall try to spin it on their website tonight (they keep revising it, it gets worse every couple of hours):
MCPS BOE observers remark; "Monday night's BOE public comment time was a well orchestrated anti-CRC (anti-4,500+ citizenry...) campaign, complete with sycophantic sign wavers and speakers intimating views to the CRC that the CRC has never avowed to." and, "One wonders if the BOE knew they were coming?" and, "Boos and hisses from curriculum supporters were permitted in the room when differing viewpoints were espoused. Where was the BOE on this anti-tolerance? Is this a sign that the new curriculum will again be biased and not reflective of all views??"

Nice, "well orchestrated." OK, we'll take that. The rest of this is the usual bull-oney.

We have reviewed the videotape and there was no booing. I think somebody did hiss softly when one ... despicable person ... talked about gay people being "abnormal." That was pretty good, really -- it would have been appropriate to throw a shoe at anyone who talks about other human beings in such a way, but everyone in the room showed great restraint. Most of their speakers were greeted with dead silence, in a room full to the rafters -- that may have felt like the equivalent of booing to them, but it wasn't. Even their own people wouldn't clap for some of them.

And I doubt that Mr. Romero and Ms. Navarro would have complimented us if we had been booing and, uh, being sycophantic.

CRC's reaction to recent developments has been interesting.

Their lawyers, Liberty Counsel, made out well in the deal, with the taxpayers giving them 36 thousand dollars, but we see this quote in The Post this morning: "We wished we could have gotten more," said Rena Lindevaldsen, senior litigator with the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based legal and education nonprofit group that argued on behalf of the two groups.

I understand -- how dya feed the kids on a lousy thirty-six grand, eh?

And the President of CRC? The Times quotes her: "I'm quasi-satisfied," said Michelle Turner, CRC president. "I don't like the way the board has gone about this."

Well, that's sad.

For some reason, the board called CRC's hometown lawyer, John Garza, first for public comments, and not in a group, just by himself.

His plea to the school board -- "We love you. Please allow us to be friends." -- followed his declaration that CRC had already won two thirds of the battle and was working on the last piece. It was very convincing. Really, I mean it.

He sat there by himself and pleaded with them to be nice, and then four more speakers were called, all from TeachTheFacts. I figured that was it. But no, they called four more people, and except for CRC's Retta Brown they were all students supporting their gay friends and the idea of getting a real education. Then they called four more, of which several were anti-gay speakers and one was Tish from TeachTheFacts, who gave an impassioned speech, including a good quote from CRC's web site that highlighted the attitude we are fighting against. Finally, the evening's comments ended with Andrew Bennet, a student who had been a member of the citizens committee, who extemporized about the importance of delivering an honest education to the students. The crowd went wild.

The details of the agreement between MCPS and the plantiffs are almost entirely things that would have happened anyway. Nobody on either side, for instance, wants to discuss anyone's religious beliefs in the classroom. Never did, never will.

We presume that this order against teaching about religious beliefs means that religious ministries that try to transform gay people into heterosexuals will not be mentioned.

Summer is upon us, school is out, but let's not think that this controversy is settled. We have only come back to where we started.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They (the CRC people) are so jealous of how much support our side had.

They talk of thousands of supporters, but I only recall 706 signatures on their petition. That either means they're lying or these so-called supporters don't have any "balls".

It's funny how the attorney said "We love you!" (I take that to mean the Board and the Students) and they just took $36,000 of our educational dollars.

I see how much "they" love "us".

The meeting definitely went well.


June 29, 2005 10:44 AM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

The legal fees of 36,000 dollars are to be used for Liberty Counsel and local attorney fees.

Who is the local attorney getting paid?????

Is it John Garza...?????


Kay R

June 29, 2005 10:51 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Dear Alex,

Thank you for your cogent statement at the BOE Monday evening. We'd like to post your statement here at our website if that's OK with you. If it is, please send it to me via "info@teachthefacts.org" and I will see to getting it posted.

All of the students spoke from their hearts and your friends and neighbors thank you for the support!


Christine Grewell

June 29, 2005 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corrections: Matilda Young is a Churchill alumni
Jordan Baker and Alex Kovalchuk are both Churchill Students

June 29, 2005 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh... the above post is from me, jason... just fyi

June 29, 2005 12:54 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Thanks, Jason, normally I wouldn't change a post after the first hour or so, but in this case, I'll correct these errors.


June 29, 2005 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intolerance, smugness, mis-characterization... I was there at the meeting -- it was quite evident that this was a highly orchestrated event courtesy of the BoE and their minions, ttf.

Yes, CRC has thousands alex dear, shouldn't you be taking a nap about now?

Kay, you keep repeating yourself... are you feeling well?

Get over yourselves people! You have no credibility because your words and actions speak for themselves. You think putting others down is the only way you can look good. Well, I have news for you, everyone can see who the intolerant, bigoted and hateful people are ... and its not CRC.

June 29, 2005 3:39 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Mel ... Teach the Facts are "minions" of the board of education? That's good... do you happen to know what that word means?


June 29, 2005 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Careful, Mel. Your paranoia is showing! You better tuck that back in, Honey.

Aunt Bea

June 29, 2005 5:29 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

Poor Mel...boredom...??????

Now we know you are bothered.....by the lack of any real win of Recall and buddy PFOX.

Kay R

June 29, 2005 9:28 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Dear Mel,
Who was it who said "WE LOVE YOU" to the BOE in the meeting? that was John Garza of CRC- so if you are looking for minions or sycophants - look at your VP.

Were you upset at hearing that only 1% of parents opted their kids out of the video or was it that Liberty Counsel said they couldn't get MCPS to teach about "ex-gays"?

I'm sure you would like to think that TTF couldn't get the demonstration and speakers together ourselves- but unlike CRC, we don't need hired help. Thanks for taking $36,000 from MCPS kids.


June 30, 2005 3:40 PM  

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