Getting results on a tough issue starts with civil discussion

Is it possible to put 100 people in a room and have an educated, argument free discussion about a serious matter?

Not if you are talking about the the U.S. Senate or even the House of Representatives for that matter. But if you are talking about a group of parents from the Manistee Area Public Schools discussing what can be done to prevent bullying and make their school safer, then yes it is possible.

On Monday evening about 100 people gathered in the Manistee Middle/High School Media Center because quite frankly they are concerned, scared and most of all care about their kids. The topic is one that isn’t specific to the Manistee Area Public Schools, but something that is on the agenda of every school in America today — school safety.

My only regret is that every senator and representative from Washington D.C. couldn’t have been there to see what transpired at that meeting. For two and a half hours people not only talked about their concerns, they politely listened as well.

There wasn’t any shouting. No one pointed fingers and everyone was respectful of others in the room and their opinion. They were there for one reason and it was the best one in the world — the kids.

Wow. When is the last time you saw the elected officials in Lansing or Washington D.C. do what is best for the people and put aside their petty political party interests?

It’s been been so long I don’t think any of us can remember when our so called “leaders” did something like that for the people they supposedly were elected to represent. Instead we get comments like “Now is not the time to discuss this” or “Blame them, it is their party that is holding this up.”

My only regret is that Sen. Gary Peters, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Jack Bergman weren’t in attendance to witness this discussion. It would have been a good lesson and opportunity to look at them and say, “this is how it is supposed to work.” More importantly, the safety of our children is an issue that they should be at the forefront of instead of lurking in the shadows and being silent.

And quite frankly what better place for them to be taught that lesson than in a school?

What’s more is the safety of children isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue, it’s one we all have concerns about whether we are parents or not. These children are the future of our country and it’s high time Congress took that into consideration.

Some seem to think we have $20 billion to spend on building a wall between us and Mexico, but we don’t have one cent to spend on school security. Instead the great plan to cure all the recent violence in schools is let’s arm the teachers.

News flash to Congress and the man currently occupying the White House — teachers were trained to educate children not be armed security guards. Would you ask an accountant to perform delicate brain surgery on you if you had a tumor?  Not if you wanted to live.

Monday’s meeting at MAPS was the first step in what will hopefully continue to be a long and ongoing discussion about school safety in that district. They didn’t find a solution in one night, but they are forming a Student Safety Advisory Committee that will continue the process and work with the board and administration to bring forward parental and student concerns.

However, what is more important is they realize there is a problem and they are acting as civil adults trying to seek a solution to a difficult issue.  And they are letting the general public have a say in the matter.

Isn’t that how it is supposed to work in a democracy?

Let’s hope more people see the light and join discussions around the country with the same goal. If we do the real winners will be the kids, and that would be great.

Hopefully, more discussions will start in Manistee County, the state and around the country by the time I… see you next Wednesday.

 

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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