A note to Wichita School Board Member Lynn Rogers

After parents and demonstrators led an Occupy Wall Street-style mic-check on the Wichita School Board, board member Lynn Rogers had this to say:

“They stepped over the line… It’s not a very good example to set for your kids.”

As one of the demonstrators who came to support the parents and students who have fought to save their schools, I am wondering what line we stepped over. I am quite certain that our action broke no law, and we were definitely acting under the protection of the First Amendment.

Throughout our state’s history, disenfranchised people have performed acts of civil disobedience in order to affect positive social and political change. In fact, Wichita, Kansas was actually home to the nation’s first sit-in.

(Note: The mic-check was not an example of civil disobedience because no law was broken.)

American citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression and no state law granting power to any school board shall supersede this inalienable right. The Wichita School Board Chairwoman, Betty Arnold, violated our First Amendment rights, hiding behind a state procedural law, which does grant her discretion over who can say what in a board meeting.

Arnold repeatedly abused this authority to stifle legitimate questions regarding the transparency of the process that preceded the board’s unanimous vote to close five Wichita schools. Furthermore, Arnold determined that the silent “twinkling” of fingers was also a form of expression that she had the power to infringe upon.

Based on the board’s utter disdain for our constitutional rights, coupled with Arnold’s admission that private meetings were held, and most offensively, a blatant disregard for the concerns of the parents of USD259, the parents were left with little choice but to make one last ditch effort to save their schools, and to stand up to a bully.

So, I ask Lynn Rogers, what “line did we cross” in exercising our First Amendment rights? How did we “set a [bad] example” for our children by openly confronting injustice in our community?

As an American citizen, I believe our elected officials should demonstrate the utmost respect for our Constitutionally-protected rights at all times. As one demonstrator asked: “What is this? Russia?” (he was told to be quiet or leave).

3 thoughts on “A note to Wichita School Board Member Lynn Rogers

  1. Mike, here’s the link to research about the public relations campaign for the 2008 school bond issue.

    It proves how they used the African-American community, with the “Obama factor”, changing the date of the election to take advantage. Also, a statement of goal 3 of 4 for the issue, “Support the end of busing for desegregation by constructing new and renovated schools in northeast Wichita.” While this sounds reasonable, they built the school in one of the furthest points in northeast suburban Wichita, not inner city

  2. My children will not be raised to be cowards. They will be raised to think independently, to be self-reliant, to stand up for what is right, fair, and just in this world. By telling the BOE that they should be ashamed of themselves, my kids felt a strong sense of pride in their mother…so much pride that they wanted to be sure people know they are the children of a “fearless leader.” as my 10 year old put it. What crosses the line is the desire of the governing body to dismiss our constitutionally protected rights. It crosses the line when a board that is supposed to act in the best interest of the kids AND the community which votes them into power, disregards those voices, silences those voices, and removes those people. If an elected official cannot withstand the criticism, the demand for honesty, and the demand for equality, then it is a seat that needs to be forfeited. I stand firm in teaching my kids to NEVER be pushed around. I stand firm in my resolve to never let anyone silence them. I stand firm in allowing them to defend themselves and others who are unable to defend themselves. I guess I am just the worst mother that ever lived.

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