To the editor:
In an Oct. 14, 2008, chat with Lawrence Journal-World readers, Scott Morgan said that, regarding his loss in the subsequent school board election due to his support of closing elementary schools in 2003, “I paid a political price for making these tough choices.”
Scott Morgan did not pay a price for closing elementary schools. Children did.
Choosing to close an elementary school is not a “tough choice,” no matter how often board members say so. Toughness is not required to burden one group of parents, devalue one neighborhood, and add turmoil to the lives of one group of students. Taking away a school from students who are already disadvantaged — students who are poor or members of racial and ethnic minorities or English language-learners — is not tough. Better words for it are “weak,” “shortsighted,” “elitist,” “cowardly” and, at the least, “lacking in imagination.”
“Tough” is taking power away from people who are already powerful. Reworking administrators’ salaries, encouraging voluntary “give backs” by the highest-paid employees, passing the cost of non-academic extracurriculars on to consumers and mandating temporary furloughs among employees would require toughness.
Board members need to stop wringing their hands and complaining that this choice is so “tough.” Closing a school so that the pain of cuts is not felt as sharply by the ones who can bear it most is not “tough.” Placing the burden of cost-cutting on those who can least bear it is not “tough.” It’s bullying, and we don’t tolerate it in our schools.