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Board meeting shocks, but not due to vote

One might think that if I were to address the shock and dismay I felt at the conclusion of the Raymore-Peculiar School District Board of Education meeting last night, I’d be talking about either the outcome of the vote, or the absence of two members for such a critical discussion.

I’m not.

These things happen. Good people disagree on what may be best for our kids in such unprecedented times, and the people we elect to serve in these positions are generally leaders – which means they often can’t be multiple places at once. Occasionally, meetings get missed.

In this case, it was a meeting that was originally scheduled to be a work session that, because of the critical nature of the pandemic, became a “special meeting,” so a status vote could be taken on the temporary mask policy that was placed into effect by the board on Aug. 20.

The decision was prefaced, once again, by a parade of speakers eager to advise the board on the proper decision to make. Seven patrons spoke in favor of removing the mask requirement, and one spoke in favor of keeping it in place.

The seven anti-maskers ranged in approach from gracious and sympathetic to insolent, defensive and aggressive.

It was basically the same routine we’ve seen play out across the nation on this subject, which seems to have become far more emotional I could have ever predicted.

The one speaker in favor of keeping the mask mandate had a heartfelt, evidence-backed and personal – highly personal – presentation. It was personal because she sees it every day through her own eyes – those of an eighth-grade girl.

And while I’m not going to take a position on whether I believed her position to be the “right” one, or those of the seven other, adult, speakers, here’s what I took from what I saw from my vantage point on the computer screen. I couldn’t attend the meeting myself.

I saw seven adult speakers push and speak through their time limits, with varying degrees of eloquence, graciousness and/or intelligence.

And each of those seven speakers was applauded generously by the public gallery that had gathered for the meeting.

And in the middle of that, I saw an eighth-grade Raymore-Peculiar East Middle School student give a beautifully prepared, poised presentation expressing her viewpoint backed by evidence and personal vignettes, finish within her given time limits, and walk assuredly back to her seat.

To silence. Dead silence.

Now I know the vast majority of these board members and I absolutely know it killed them to have to sit there without applauding this courageous student. They had to remain still due to their role, of course.

But who were these people in the audience that couldn’t respond with polite applause for this student who showed us all exactly what we are hoping to train our kids to do? They joyfully whooped it up for each of the other seven.

Who the hell are these people? I don’t want to be associated with them. Absolutely pathetic.

Here they are, watch for yourself. The meeting starts at about the 3:25 mark. I guarantee you'll walk away livid. The student's presentation begins at around 27:10.

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