Last week the citizens of Fargo voted down their school district’s ability to exceed the state’s mill levy cap (instituted as a part of the state’s massive buy-down of local school spending). In response, members of the School Board took to social media to petulantly accuse those who voted down the measure of being ignorant and anti-education, etc., etc.
The school board members – specifically Paul Meyers and Robin Nelson – basically threatened to punish voters with lower education quality.
Chris Berg had Meyers on his show this week to talk about the social media and the vote, and to say the segment was tense would be an understatement. Meyer started off by explaining a comment he made on Facebook: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” He attributed the quote to a former Harvard University president, and ultimately to Mark Twain, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a false choice. Meyer wants us to believe that we either give the school district every penny it wants, or we embrace ignorance.
As if it were impossible to provide a sound, quality education at something less than the Fargo School District is spending now. I think most voters find that a little hard to believe.
At one point, after Meyers points out that the controversial decision to build the Davies High School (something many attribute the failed mill levy vote to) was perfectly legal, Berg pointed out that slavery was legal too at one point in this country. His point being that something being legal doesn’t make it right.
Meyer’s response? “You would say that wouldn’t you.” Because I guess Berg is pro-slavery or something?
Meyer also griped about Berg and “others” who regularly appear on Berg’s show (me, perhaps) getting their facts wrong. But then he claimed that the Fargo School District has cut their budget, which they haven’t. As Berg pointed out, their budget has increased by more than $20 million, something Meyer justified by saying it was necessary to implement all-day kindergarten. And he said the money came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus bill” as it’s commonly known), so I guess it was free then?
As though we aren’t all federal taxpayers too?
Interestingly enough, Meyer avoided talking about the controversial Bluestem purchase at all, a multi-million dollar boondoggle that has Fargo voters upset because it’s not even located in their city, or even their state, instead residing across the river in Minnesota.
I’m not sure that this combative tone the Fargo School Board has taken after the vote is doing them any favors with a public that’s already very suspicious of how they’re handling the money. The measure voted on last week was about more than a mill levy. I think it was a referendum on the level of trust the people of Fargo have in their school board, and clearly there isn’t a lot of trust right now.