Did any good result from Franklin’s fight to make masks optional in school?

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Dozens of Franklin residents walked out of last week’s school board meeting stunned, frustrated, upset, angry.

For months they had lobbied the board to adhere to a school district decision to make masks optional for students during the upcoming school year.

Before a vote was taken by the board last week the meeting had degenerated into a complete farce.

Citizens wishing to speak were forced to wait almost two hours.

Members of the district’s medical advisory board lectured the board and audience ad nauseam.

One board member insulted the large crowd, claiming this was not a meeting for the community but a meeting for the board.

Another board member had to apologize for an ill-advised comment about a resident and her child.

And yet another board member told impatient folks to “shut up!”

When the dust settled the board voted to require masks for students K4-6th grade. To many the move made no common sense, with parents now seriously considering removing their children from the Franklin district.

So, did anything positive come after this losing battle. I submit yes.

Public awareness has increased substantially

For decades Franklin School Board meetings have been poorly attended, if attended at all. Just the way the school district administration and their flunkies, the board members like it.

No one watching. No one paying attention. No one seeing. No one hearing. Add the fact that local news media coverage has been practically non-existent and the board has been for the longest time able to go unchecked.

One big happy family. A mutual admiration society. The club meets, pats each other on the back, votes yes yes yes, and walks to their cars arm in arm smiling.

On May 24, 2011, I blogged about a board meeting where the members performed self-evaluation. Hey, forget about student performance, test scores, dropout rates, etc. Let’s chat about how we get along.

From my blog:

The best line I heard was from member Janet Evans. As her colleagues wrestled with how to form better “relationships” as a board, Evans chimed in:

“I’m not here to have a relationship (with any of you). I’m here to do my job.”


She said what?

“I’m not here to have a relationship (with any of you). I’m here to do my job.”

The comment made so much common sense and because it did, Evans’ statement was stunning to the rest of the clueless robots on the Board.

Which brings me to a segment on Mark Belling’s talk show Monday on Newstalk 1130 WISN.

I will paraphrase, and quite accurately, from Mark’s program.

He addressed a school board issue in Menomonee Falls (MF). By coincidence, MF has about the same population as Franklin and like Franklin is immensely conservative. In MF, the voting patterns are overwhelmingly Republican. As mark put it, the last place you’d expect victories by the teacher’s union with public officials thumbing their noses at the will of the people would be MF. I would add you could toss in Franklin, except that the Franklin School Board is beyond out of touch.

Mark mentioned that in some communities, especially smaller ones like MF (and I might add, Franklin) with 30-35,000 population, the teachers are often pals with the school board. They bump into one another and see each other in the community, at church, at youth school sports. They become buddies. 

When a school board member’s “friend,” aka teacher asks for help, the school board member, rather than upset a “friend” and stand up for the electorate, instead caves.

Another factor needs to be considered.

Folks run for office with the best intentions. They are going to strive for fiscal responsibility. They will not be beholden to special interests. They will represent the taxpayers.

Then they get elected and rub elbows with the entrenched administration. They go native, welcomed into their new family, going from “one of us” to “one of them.” Prior to the election, they were outsiders. Now they’re insiders.

Mark also said that if he was ever to serve on a governmental body, he’d be fine if the others on the body didn’t like him. Why? Because he wasn’t there to win their approval. He was there to work for the people that put him there.

—May 24, 2011

Back to the present. As of today the climate has totally changed. The public has been awakened.

No more empty board meetings

There was a time when you couldn’t pay more than a handful of taxpayers to leave their homes and show up at a meeting. Those days appear to be over.

Some residents are vowing to become regulars, attending every meeting as opposed to being just infrequent visitors.

Prior to meetings they’ve done their homework, scanning the agenda items on the school district’s website. And they’re not content to simply sit in their seats quietly. They openly express their concerns and ask questions.

Concerned taxpayers who previously practiced extensive social distancing when it came to the school district are now getting involved.

Make no mistake. District Administrator Judy Mueller and the board members absolutely hate this. They want no attention or scrutiny. To them, the less people know about what’s going on the better.

Citizens have become more active

April’s school board elections garnered the most public interest in the nearly 30 years I’ve lived here.

Higher meeting attendance has been mentioned. And communications have also increased.

Mueller and the board are consistently receiving thoughtful e-mails, even telephone calls. Despite sensing their correspondences are futile, the residents refuse to throw in the towel, and remain committed to reaching out to administrators who work for us.

Grab any 10 Franklin citizens at random and I bet they’d be hard-pressed to name one or two school board members. Truth is the board can’t hide anymore. Since the mask controversy erupted people are talking about 1) Recruiting school board candidates; 2) Running for school board; 3) Recall.

Bottom line

There’s still a great deal of apathy. Franklin excels at not getting involved.

But when it comes to the management of our public schools, interest has catapulted. That needs to remain constant.

Best of all, the major shortcomings of this inept school administration have been exposed.

2 thoughts on “Did any good result from Franklin’s fight to make masks optional in school?

  1. So that’s a great thing…parents getting involved with what their children are being taught, or not taught, or indoctrinated …

    I think we’ve all seen the tiktok of the teachers with the BLM and pride flags, yet their classrooms have no American flag. The kids complain there is no flag in which to pledge allegiance. The teacher told him to face the pride flag and recite it, and he complied…she thought this was hysterical. Tee. Hee.

    Even a small group of parents can change a school. And some of those concerned parents can run for school board themselves. You? Jennifer? You both would be fantastic.

    I homeschool, but I am very concerned over education. And parents have rights!!!


  2. Pingback: TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2021: #2 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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