The following letter comes from Benicia resident, Pat Anderson. Post your opinion to Benicia Patch here.
I'm sorry -- but I find it pretty damn hard to believe that three-fifths of our School Board, in the space of 45 minutes, voted away up to $90,000 of our public educational funds to support an unproven, hare-brained scheme: locking in all 1,400 of our high schoolers during their lunch period, and forcing cafeteria food on them. That the vote was championed by Mr. Messina, who recently bemoaned spending a quarter of that amount on a long-deserved parcel tax for our schools, is beyond belief!
All three board members showed immaturity and disrespect to the public and their colleagues by not tabling the motion until the full five-member Board could discuss this cock-eyed "program."
Under the vague heading of improved "safety," 1400 of our teenagers are to be abruptly locked in, and told that their state-issued drivers licenses are worthless while school is in session. NO hard research is presented in a public forum. Just anecdotes and hunches. Goofy, unsubstantiated claims. Fears are framed. Whoosh. We suddenly "lock down" with such stellar high schools as Vallejo's and Pittsburgh's.
Trying to magically eradicate a few automobile accidents among teen aged drivers, sad as they truly are, is hardly justification for shredding the earned liberty of every single student who steadfastly worked to earn their driving privileges. Parents, we grandparents and students themselves worked and saved hard and long to support the student's driving responsibility. How can a school district abruptly strip it away, intrusively playing "Big Brother" at a point when students need to learn how to progressively manage their personal development for school, college and the work world?
BTW -- Did anyone ask the local food-serving merchants how they'll make up for lost revenues and the locally-generated sales-tax? When the administration claims this will be slowly implemented, why the sudden rush to implement with a generous budget? What other pressing and truly educational needs are dumped so that a "bait and switch" forced implementation can be rushed through?
In addition, a big "No thanks" to the imperious Ms. La Riviere. Her sardonic statements and poor analogies at the Board meeting and in the press reflect a top-down nastiness towards others' points of view. She seems regrettably tone-deaf to adolescents' needs to be allowed to wrestle with these stages and responsibilities of their own development.
Locking in students to stand in even longer, dreary food lines, -- fanciful awnings or not --and sit in crowded quarters every single school day, chowing down on school cafeteria food?! How "safe" can that nonsense be for students' public health and student morale? What of those who must return home for medical, dietary or parental needs? And should some horrific Columbine-style event occur, why on earth cramp everybody into a fishbowl-on-campus?
Leave that $90,000 of our tax dollars in the educational budget alone, friends. This sham is counter to real, serious educational needs.
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