Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fight, fight!!!

Earlier this week, Sydney Brillo Duodenum presented a memorandum from Montgomery County, Maryland Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast to the Board of Education recommending against closing the schools on Inauguration Day. Mr. Weast presented a laundry list of impacts on schools, staff, students, parents, buildings, security personnel, pets, bus drivers, fast food workers, nannies, etc. Bottom line: it will cost too much and since we have already given the teachers more "professional days" than any other school system in the country, we can't cram another day off for kids into the schedule.

Below we have the response of one school board member, Mr. Christopher Barclay, a professional community activist from the nuclear free zone of the People's Republic of Takoma Park, who also draws a salary from Verizon as a manager of some sort.

Here's is Mr. Barclay's Memorandum and proposed Resolution in full. Bolding provided courtesy of Sydney Brillo Duodenum:

Rockville, Maryland, Maryland
November 18, 2008

To: Members of the Board of Education
From: Christopher S. Barclay, Board Member
Subject: Closing Schools for Presidential Inauguration Day

I appreciated reading the superintendent's November 15, 2008, memorandum outlining his concerns about the possibility of closing Montgomery County Public Schools for the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama on January 20, 2009 (attached). I do not minimize the cost of losing one instructional day in the event of an unseasonal winter; neither am I unaware of the costs that we will likely bear from the spike in employee absences on that day.

One fact that is not in dispute is that this inauguration will be one of historic proportions, unlike any event that we are likely to witness again in our lifetimes. It is one that calls for individuals and families to celebrate and savor the moment and reflect upon the journey that has made Mr. Obama the first African-American president of our great nation. I think that as leaders of our school system, we have an opportunity and an obligation to have a discussion about the desirability of closing schools not only on this Inauguration Day, but on future inauguration days.

I believe that regardless of the unique historical significance of January 20, 2009, the Montgomery County Public Schools calendar should honor the significance of each presidential inauguration by designating it a holiday, I am requesting that Board officers include this item for discussion and action at our all-day Board meeting on December 9, 2008.

I intend to offer the following resolution to declare Inauguration Day a Montgomery County Public Schools holiday beginning with January 20, 2009:

WHEREAS, On January 20, 2009, Senator Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, and Senator Joseph Biden will be sworn in as Vice President of the United States; and -

WHEREAS, The Board of Education extends best wishes for success to our President-elect in his historic election as the first African-American president of our great nation; and

WHEREAS, The Montgomery County Public Schools should instill upon our students a keen awareness of the Presidential Inaugural as a key aspect of our democracy and encourage active participation of schools in emphasizing the importance and historical significance of the inauguration; and

WHEREAS, Several jurisdictions in the Washington metropolitan area have declared Inauguration Day a school holiday so that students and staff could fully participate in the Inauguration activities; now therefore be it

Resolved, That January 20, 2009, be designated as a Montgomery County Public School system holiday for Inauguration Day, with three contingency days remaining (instead of four) in the 2008-2009 school calendar, and be it further

Resolved, That all future school calendars designate Inauguration Day a school system holiday, with appropriate adjustments made to account for emergencies and legally-mandated instructional days.

Copy to: Dr.Weast


Word of this memorandum and resolution is now sloshing through the Internet tubes causing high priced attorneys at major DC law firms, who shall remain nameless, to send e-mails, such as the one below, to school list serves, revealing deep passions on the subject as well as severe ignorance of the process of the transfer of power in our dear Republic. Again, Sydney Brillo Duodenum does the bolding on your behalf:

I strongly oppose Mr. Barclay's resolution. While I oppose making this inauguration day a holiday because of the high costs and low benefits (especially when addressing this particular inauguration in schools would be an excellent teaching opportunity at all levels), this proposal would require the county to deal with the financial and educational costs of closing schools on inauguration day every year! [Listen up, people, Obama deserves an Inauguration every year, damn it! - SBD] There is simply no good reason to do that. While the proposal states that ""The Montgomery County Public Schools should instill upon our students a keen awareness of the Presidential Inaugural as a key aspect of our democracy and encourage active participation of schools in emphasizing the importance and historical significance of the inauguration," that is simply not the case. A presidential inauguration itself has very little to do with our democracy [Just another peaceful transfer of power folks, nothing to see here, move along, move along. - SBD] and to emphasize it would indeed be harmful in that it would elevate the presidency over the other two, co-equal branches of our government (about which our children could certainly stand to learn more).

With respect to closing school just for this inauguration day, the bottom line is that very, very few students will be able to participate in this year's inauguration activities if they do not do so in school. Forcing parents to make alternative arrangements for childcare [Bingo!!! Think of the clients!- SBD] and forcing many students to spend the day in back-up daycare (unaware of the inauguration) is hardly a fitting way to mark this event.

Spoken like a true high priced attorney who cannot imagine having to spend a non-weekend day with their children. But, Lord, if this is characteristic of the logic employed on behalf of her clients, then good luck to them.

Sydney Brillo Duodenum agrees with Mr. Barclay that this Inauguration has obvious historic import and compels our attention and respect. But he finds it most interesting that until this Inauguration of this President-elect all the other Inaugurations were not worthy of being set aside as days of jubilation and reflection of how great our country is. Only now do the fundamentals of our Republic have legitimacy. Only now are we to be proud of how we transfer power in this country.