Opposition to a proposed firearms ban in 4J schools: During public comment May 18, the school board hears two responses to the Buffalo hate crime attack. Teach conflict resolution, give the staff firearms instruction. We start with a comment about “experts” from the Community Alliance for Public Education.
[00:00:19] Roscoe Caron: My name is Roscoe Caron. I’m a retired 4J teacher and a member of CAPE, the Community Alliance for Public Education. About 20 years ago, I watched all of the shop equipment being removed from Jefferson Middle School, where I taught. The band saw, the drill press, the belt sanders—all were taken away and sold off. Same with the home-ec kitchen equipment.
[00:00:41] The experts did not know that those classes helped to keep students coming to school and were great ways to make math, geometry, problem solving and science real and meaningful.
[00:00:53] Experts, conventional wisdom, and groupthink are often very, very wrong.
[00:00:59] If you choose a new superintendent who does not question the experts and groupthink and does not have the vision and guts to challenge the system as it is, well, much needed real change simply will not occur. If you do not hire a change agent, no real change will occur.
[00:01:16] Ericka Thessen: Hi, my name is Ericka Thessen. My pronouns are she her hers, and I’m the parent of two current and one former student in the district. What happened this weekend in Buffalo was tragic and horrible. It was a reminder that racism, hate, and bias crimes continue to be on the rise in Eugene, Oregon, and the entire U S.
[00:01:34] In 2019 the FBI reported 7,608 hate and bias crimes. In 2020, Oregon investigated 270 hate crimes, up 70 percent from 160 the year before. In 2020 Eugene ranked first in the state with 24.3 hate crimes per 1,000 residents, a total of 54 incidents. Sixty-one percent of these crimes are motivated by race, 20 percent motivated by sexual orientation. All of this information was found on the fbi.gov website and the state of Oregon Criminal Justice Commission website.
[00:02:09] Public education is one of our most valuable and important resources and a cornerstone of our democracy. 4J and all public school systems can help play a role in decreasing hate and bias by giving students the skills and tools for critical thinking and tolerance.
[00:02:20] I would like to see the district fostering equity, equality, diversity, and tolerance. Implementing restorative and transformative justice programs. Recruiting, hiring and retaining diverse staff. Implementing curriculum that features diverse communities, voices, and perspectives. Increasing mental health supports for our students. Having certified librarian teachers in every high school and in all middle schools to help teach media literacy, media fairness, and to help students learn how to avoid dis- or mis-information and how to avoid violent online content.
[00:02:51] No one is born hating anyone. Hate is taught and we can help teach our students the skills to defeat hate.
[00:02:58] John Q: At the end of the public comment period, Harry Sanger.
[00:03:02] Harry Sanger: Can we hear from one of the 20 conservative members of our community that are sitting in the audience tonight?
[00:03:08] Public commenter: Or actually even any member of the public, rather than just your staff, that you can talk to at any time you want.
[00:03:18] Chair Judy Newman: We need to take a recess. We’ll be back in five minutes.
[00:03:21] John Q: As the school board members left the room, Harry Sanger engaged with Laural O’Rourke and asked her, Is my skin the wrong color?
[00:03:35] Harry Sanger: You hear from teachers but you don’t allow parents to speak. (Cross-talk) You do that every night, Laural. (Multiple speakers) Is my skin the wrong color? (Multiple speakers)
[00:03:47] John Q: During the recess, the district offered to accept more public comment.
[00:03:51] 4J District: Hello. If anybody would like to speak, please step up. Now is your time.
[00:03:58] Harry Sanger: I’ve spoken to them before, I’d really like one of you to step up if they extend that opportunity. But the thing I was going to say.
[00:04:04] I don’t know back there how many of you are listening. Ericka Thessen talked about the Buffalo shooting. The guy was a white supremacist. That’s a real white supremacist. He’s got a creed. He is against certain people because of how they look. Nobody in this room feels that way.
[00:04:20] You know, you label your political opponents as white supremacists. You toss around that word like it is nothing. (That’s right.) And Laural does that every single meeting. And that’s why I made the comment I did. And we need to stop that. We need to look at each other and see each other for who we are and stop judging people and (cross-talk, applause).
[00:04:43] John Q: Harry said they came to defend Second Amendment rights.
[00:04:46] Harry Sanger: People came here to speak tonight because they’re against the proposed policy and nobody in any of these public comments has spoken to that. So that’s what we requested from the board, somebody being able to speak to that. It has nothing to do with white supremacy. It has nothing to do with which side of the political aisle you’re on. It has to do with constitutional rights, specifically our Second Amendment.
[00:05:05] Public commenter: Constitutionally protected rights.
[00:05:08] Harry Sanger: Constitutionally protected rights, specifically the Second Amendment.
[00:05:12] Public commenter: And actual education for our children.
[00:05:18] Public commenter: This is the school board, and they’re so proud of themselves, you know, and our kids can’t make change. They don’t know how to write their names. They can’t read higher than a lower-grade reading level at 18 years old.
[00:05:36] John Q: Harry Sanger recalled the first public comment of the evening.
[00:05:39] Harry Sanger: Roscoe Caron, the first commenter, I disagree with him most of the time, but what he said was spot on. We listened to the ‘experts,’ and we follow everything they say, and it turns out that 20 years down the road, the experts didn’t know what they were talking about. And instead of having open debate about what the experts were saying, they accepted it because they weren’t experts.
[00:06:02] Human authority is a logical fallacy. They don’t know anything more than we do. They studied certain things but then they combine other comments (That’s right)
[00:06:12] Public commenter: And experts are nothing but drips under pressure.
[00:06:18] John Q: One participant argued that a ban on firearms would endanger children.
[00:06:22] Public commenter: We’re law-abiding citizens. So we’re going to follow the law. What are you doing? You are endangering not only our children, but you’re endangering the staff, you’re endangering everybody who’s there.
[00:06:34] John Q: She recalled teachers being trained in armed defense.
[00:06:38] Public commenter: Who remembers a couple of years back, when our teachers were being instructed by firearms training defense, to protect our students. That wasn’t that long ago. Does everybody remember that? (That’s right.) Perfectly acceptable because the children needed defense—well-instructed, rational, logical defense. People are—
[00:07:01] They are getting paid, they’re getting paid by the government to stay in that lunchroom and not listen to us right now. (You know what? They’re cowards! Transparency! Cowards!) They’re not listening to what we have to say. Five minutes is long up. They were only going to take five minutes.
[00:07:19] So let’s go take their seats.
[00:07:25] (Multiple speakers) We are fellow community members and parents of the children that go to our schools, and taxpayers that sign for their paychecks. (Yeah.) That pay for their paychecks.
[00:07:36] Well if we don’t like what they’re doing representing you, replace them. Every one of them is reviewable. Recall. Recall! (Recall.) Recall the board.
[00:07:48] Public Commenter: But bottom line, you take away, I mean, I’m preaching to the choir here, but the bottom line: If you take away the ability to carry a firearm around the school, you are basically putting targets on the back of our children. They are soft targets, they’re easy to take out. As well as the teachers. And the principals and stuff.
[00:08:08] And the bad guys kill them too.
[00:08:11] John Q: The board looks for public comment on its proposal to ban firearms. If you need help signing up for comment at their June meeting, contact 4J.