Privilege in the Woodland Park School District Board Meetings
We are constantly instructed that this nation is full of privilege. Privilege we are informed that keeps established power centers on top, prevents change, and inhibits democracy. These assertions are absolutely correct. One of the best places to go observe privilege in action is at the monthly meeting of the Woodland Park School District. In fact, these meetings are so full of privilege that there is not just one, but two variants, on full display.
One form of privilege is displayed at the Directors table where they sit facing the general public. These private citizens have volunteered their time to serve and were elected by their fellow citizens about 15 months ago by significant margins. They ran and won in the first contested school board elections in over 15 years. During that time, the enrollment in the district has cratered, dropping from over 3200 pupils in 2001 to just over 1800 by 2021. For the immediately preceding decade, the Woodland Park School District led the state in the rate of decline among similarly sized districts. 700 of those students left since 2017 and the implementation of the Summit Learning Platform, a computer based methodology backed by and provided for free by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. This instructional method was accompanied by a new, gentler Restorative Practices discipline policy focused on the transgressor instead of the victim who suffered. For the privilege of trying to stem this tide and turn the district’s direction around, the Directors receive – cookies. And a bottle of water. Clearly displayed for all to see at every single meeting is a very nice chewy cookie and a bottle of water for the Director to consume as they wrestle with rescuing an enterprise with an over $30 million dollar budget that employs more than 300 people. Must be good cookies.
The other privilege is enjoyed by some members of the general public who attend the monthly meeting. These people are those who presided over and worked for the district during the period of decline. They are supporters of the Summit Learning Platform and Restorative Practices discipline process. For those who work for the district, their privilege is one enjoyed by very few Americans. It is the privilege to scream, curse, libel, walk out on, and disrupt their employer in public. They exercise this privilege as often as the Directors get their cookie. At every meeting, regardless of what the Directors elected by the public propose, they get to exercise the privilege of throwing a tantrum. This privilege includes no requirement to logically examine the problems for many families created by Summit Learning and Restorative Practices. It also extends to hiding behind the children they are supposed to be educating to be responsible citizens. The fifteen or so employees out of over 300 in the district who exercise this privilege claim to represent the others without evidence of doing so, another privilege rarely seen outside of the shrinking public union bubble.
Anyone interested in examining the exercise of privilege in America today should attend the Woodland Park School District meetings. You probably won’t be able to taste the cookies, although Directors minding their calories have been known to give them away. You will be able to see and hear the catcalls, character assassination, middle fingers, and terrible twos behavior of people paid with taxpayer funds to educate children. You might start wonder when these privileges, like those of other misbehaving children, will be taken away.