News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Redistricting Fever: The reviews are in!

Reston's been all agog over redistricting fever. But now that the curtains are about to fall on the awesome public hearings, the reviews are in. Let's just say they're a bit... mixed. Take the Examiner, for instance:

School redistricting is traumatic under the best of circumstances and must be done with the highest degree of transparency. FCPS officials failed on both counts. Dean Tistadt, FCPS’s facilities and planning head, reportedly admitted that “strictly from a capacity and facility standpoint,” there was “no compelling reason for the boundary study” in the first place. Six high schools were covered by the Western Boundary study used to justify the redistricting plan. Those six schools have irregular boundaries that look like artificial, politically gerrymandered constructs, which is exactly what they are. Most striking is the so-called “Madison Island” enclave, directly north of the Dulles Access Road. Students there attend Madison High School in Vienna, despite its being almost completely engulfed by the South Lakes district. They are also much closer geographically to the Reston school. Also, why does the boundary study exclude Madison and Langley High School in McLean, both of which are overcrowded and directly adjacent to the underenrolled South Lakes?
They also called the public hearing process an example of "Russian-style democracy." Maybe that explains why this blog is so popular in Russia, but we'll move on. What say you, Washington Post?
The school bullies are at it again. As usual, they are intimidating the weak and forcing the fearful to do their dirty work.

Schoolyard bullies? No, school board bullies.

The bullies are tightening their grip on the question of redrawing high school attendance boundaries in the western part of Fairfax County, ensuring that the public's true opinion is not heard and recorded by the county staff charged with surveying constituents' opinions.

That staff is scheduled to issue a recommendation to the Fairfax County School Board Jan. 10, based on feedback it gathers in three "town hall" public meetings held at affected high schools.

The board is bullying citizens by strong-arming communities into fights with one another over who gets to stay and who goes. It is classic bully behavior to frighten victims into allegiance with the bully.
Wow... that's a bit harsh. Never mind this piece, although not labeled as such, was a letter to the editor written by an irate resident of Fox Mill, the hoity-toity subdivision that hates Bratz dolls. But bullying? Soviet-style decision making? It's not like the school board has been forcibly ejecting people attempting to inject a little transparency into these meetings or something. Right?

Oh. Never mind.
After participants in one of the Dec. 3 boundary study meeting's small groups complained that Hunter Mill-area resident Bruce Bennett was videotaping the proceedings, school staff had him removed by Fairfax County Police, who were present at Westfield High School.

The action was unlawful under Virginia Code 2.2-3707, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, Bennett said, and he is now considering legal action....

Bennett said he has been videotaping the meetings because of what he perceives to be “plants” in the meetings, or individuals who have been given prepared comments by the county to contribute.

That he was removed only deepens his suspicions, he said.

“I think this is an attempt to hide or obfuscate what's taking place in these school board hearings. I'm very concerned, I was publicly humiliated when I was removed from the premise,” Bennett said.
Based on the behavior of everyone involved, this whole process is slowly but surely turning us into homeschoolers. It's already made us start to question the theory of evolution, so we're more than halfway there!

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