Testimony of Karel Kilimnik to the BOE, March 25, 2021
I asked a question about Item 35 because the wording was confusing. I was told an answer would be posted Monday evening before this meeting in the newly invented Responses to Board & Public Questions on Action Items. First, this was not posted until Tuesday and this was an unnecessary step to obtain a simple answer. Many questions asked are there because there are totally inadequate descriptions provided. This labyrinth is symbolic of the roadblocks erected by the Board to stifle public engagement. First the Board institutes Speaking Procedures to bypass having a Speaker Policy. You cut speaking time and cap the number of speakers so who knows how many people tried to sign up but were turned away. People have issues and concerns they want to raise in a public forum not in private meetings. There were over 100 speakers at the hearing last week who spoke for 3 minutes each,not two. If any Board members do not want to sit through a long meeting listening to speakers then you need to resign. The Board votes on a $3 billion budget funded with our tax dollars. You are government officials obligated to listen to the public not control who can speak. These speaker suppression actions further erode trust in both the District and the Board. In the birthplace of democracy the Board supports censorship and silencing of public comment.
Your firewalls to thwart public engagement are anathema to democratic institutions and need to stop. Bombarding the public for hours with your self serving Goals & Guardrails does nothing to improve education. Forcing people to listen to you congratulate yourselves as you waste time on goals & guardrails is insulting and demeaning to speakers who have to wait for hours as you pontificate until we can have our voices heard. Listen and act on what principals told you last week – they want assistant principals, reading coaches, math coaches, climate managers, special ed liaisons and a certified teacher librarian in every school. Hire staff, not consultants. Your speaking procedures represent a monumental failure of leadership by you, the mayor, and superintendent.