Name-calling still alive, well in public discourse
December 14, 2005 - To the editor:
I was amused by Patricia Stevenson's letter in which she called Karl Frank Jr. a trained seal and a self-absorbed dilettante, among other things.
It's nice to know that when all else fails, name-calling is still alive and well in public discourse.
Of course Ms. Stevenson is right. How horrible it must be for her to have to sit and hear Mr. Frank — who is, after all, young, and not an "education professional'' — expound on his own ideas.
How offensive it is to one's sense of propriety that a man who is only a concerned parent might try to bring in new ideas.
What does he think this is, a forum for discussion? An experiment in popular de-mocracy?
The Mehlville school board, like most school boards, exists to approve what the administration asks it to approve. After all, they're the "education professionals,'' and as Ms. Stevenson rightly points out, this is complicated stuff, what with understanding tax rates, rollbacks and those pesky textbooks that need editing and verifying.
Mr. Frank is certainly naive to think he can just jump in the middle of this stew and make a difference.
But what do we do when we have an administration presiding over back-to-back years of precipitous declines in test scores, a vastly overspent building im-provement plan and cuts in services at all levels?
Is it time for someone to come in and start making some noise? Is it time for someone to start rocking the boat?
It goes without saying that in a room where everyone calmly nods and agrees, nothing is challenged, nothing moves forward.
Without someone to prod the status quo, there is no reason to change, and the rubber stamp continues to swing unabated.
I would suggest to Ms. Stevenson that she is not offended by the fact that Mr. Frank is a trained seal.
What bothers her is that she has grown comfortable with the usual show, and Karl knows tricks that unnerve her.