Politics on Display at Board Meeting | News, Sports, Jobs – Wheeling Intelligencer

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Nov 20, 2021
Editor, News-Register:
The Board of Education is a non-partisan entity for a reason: politics should not play ANY role in determining the educational policies for our children. On Monday, Nov. 8, board chair David Croft established that he is more concerned about injecting his politics into board decisions than he is about the welfare of our children. Time and again, (people) took the floor to tout their own online “research” to the loud and repeated applause of the anti-vax/anti-mask crowd. One even levied personal attacks on the infinitely patient Superintendent Kim Miller by printing out pictures of her outdoors without a mask on, regardless of the fact that there are different rules for being outdoors. Yet Croft did nothing to limit either the personal attacks or the raucous support they engendered from a handful of those in attendance. What’s more, these squeaky wheels engaged in the same behavior when board member Molly Aderholt repeatedly spouted dubious claims about how COVID doesn’t impact children anyway, amongst other demonstrable falsities. According to her logic, since not every school in the U.S. has mask mandates or rigid quarantine policies, we shouldn’t either, even though this line of reasoning ignores the specific context of our situation. Once the motion to change quarantine rules passed, the anti-vax/anti-mask crowd once again clapped, whooped, and hollered boisterously, with no word from Croft on how such behavior was unbecoming or inappropriate considering the setting and topic. However, when the motion to repeal the mask mandate failed, Croft was sure to put his politics first by throwing me out of the meeting for daring to clap at the result. Not yell. Not make a clamor. Just clap. By not applying the same standards to both sides, Croft demonstrated his pettiness and hypocrisy, but that’s what you get when politics are more important to you than safety and reason.
Reason, not politics, should guide board policies. The CDC, WV DHHR, and Ohio County Health Department have provided guidelines to follow based on scientific authority. Superintendent Miller also provided guidance based on our current numbers and in her opinion, things should have remained the same. A random person’s Google-fu does not make their opinion as valid as experts in the field who have spent their lives establishing their credentials. Even if you were to find a so-called “expert” online that backs your position, authority on a subject is created by consensus opinion from numerous experts, not individual outliers. Nor should you be trying to find a legal loophole in an effort to force state health officials to “push back,” as Aderholt claimed was her goal, instead of following what is safe and reasonable as determined by experts in virology.
Should we revisit our quarantine and mask policy? Absolutely, but only when the factors in our county deem such an action prudent, as determined by federal, state, and local health experts, not because certain board members want to make a misguided appeal to protecting students’ constitutional rights. The constitution protects the common good, the We the People, and public education serves that goal. Check your politics at the door, board members.
To the parents who so loudly and repeatedly disrupted the meeting, yet were not removed by the chair as I was for a far lesser interruption: I get it. You want your kid in school. I agree with you. Kids do better when they are in school. Here is where parents’ choice really matters, but you have to keep something in mind. There is no conspiracy, no one is intentionally out to harm your children, and you are not the victim. You are just louder than everyone else in the room. If you want your kid in school, you can choose to get them vaccinated and have them wear a mask until the situation is safe. Real experts have determined that these actions are what will make it so by cutting off the capacity for the virus to spread and mutate. Vaccinations started becoming established policy for public schools in 1850 and nearly all of us are already vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, tetanus, and more. Again, check your politics at the door. If you choose not to follow the established guidelines and policies that are created for the common good by expert authority, then you are also choosing to bear the consequences of not following them.
Darrin Cox
Wheeling
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