[saymaListserv] Cookeville School Board meeting

Red & Deanna reddeanna at charter.net
Fri Feb 4 22:08:21 JEST 2005

I thought Friends may want to see coverage of last night's School Board meeting from Cookeville's local paper, the Herald-Citizen.

I ask that you hold us all in the Light:  Friends, Veterans for Peace, the School Board, the Director of Schools Michael Martin, the high school principal Wayne Shanks, the recruiters, board attorney Don Rader, the children of Putnam County, and our community.  


Deanna Nipp
Cookeville Preparative Meeting

Board refers peace group issue to attorney 
Mary Jo Denton 
Herald-Citizen Staff 

Saying they are not anti-military or anti-American, a group of peace activists yesterday asked the Putnam school board for the same access that military recruiters have to schools here. 
The board referred the issue to board attorney Dan Rader and promised a report soon. Freedom of speech and equal access are among the legal issues involved, Director of Schools Michael Martin said.

The peace group, made up of Veterans for Peace and members of a Quaker meeting, had gone into Cookeville High last fall with materials they said gave students information about ways to serve their country other than by joining the military.

"We were told we would not be welcome back," said Hector Black, a member of the group.

Cookeville High Principal Wayne Shanks told the board that when the group came to the school office last fall to say they wanted to set up a table in the hallway to give out information, he was under the impression it would be about the Peace Corps.

But later, someone brought some of the group's material to his attention, he said.

"It looked controversial in a political way," Shanks said. "This was last fall when we were in a presidential election. Now, I encourage controversial issues discussions among students, but in the proper place."

Shanks said he felt the material should first be approved and that the whole issue should be resolved by the school board before the group was allowed back into the school.

The peace group then decided to appeal to the board and wrote Schools Director Martin defining their position and noting that they simply want to make sure that students have information other than that offered by military recruiters.

At yesterday's board meeting, five persons addressed the board on the issue, all five favoring letting the peace group into the schools.

Jennifer Schabert said, "I'm a parent with a student in that school, and I think it's crucial to let these groups have access. Lots of groups, including Republicans, Democrats, and military recruiters have this access, and those materials (of the peace group) were only on a table. They were not being handed out to students.

"As for (reports that) someone objected to a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower that was included (in the material), I'd like to ask just how much more American can you be? He was president and was a military general.

"If you fail to allow these groups access to the schools, you're failing as educators because what they do is give students a chance to explore all avenues of service to the country."

Jack Queen, a retired Army officer and member of Veterans for Peace, detailed his long military career, including some of the bloody scenes he saw in Vietnam, and said, "War is not all glory."

"All we're asking is equal access," Queen said.

Hector Black, a Quaker and also a veteran, said, "We don't have a problem with young people deciding to join the military -- if they are fully informed."

He said his experience in World War II "led me to believe that war is no longer a way we should resolve differences."

"I've thought a lot about what Jesus said about loving our enemies. And I think he meant exactly what he said. I think that if we always strike back in revenge, there's an endless cycle, and the way to stop that cycle of violence is the way that Dr. King did, the way that Jesus did. To say, 'The violence stops here.'"

Diane Paul, noting her own father's long service in military combat and saying that "the military can be an honorable career," said, "Children in school are too young to decide whether to join the military."

Paul spoke admiringly of Hector Black's long history of fighting peacefully for civil rights and other causes.

"There is no person in this community I'd rather have my children to know than Hector Black, who himself was once jailed for (his stand on civil rights causes), and for whose freedom Dr. Martin Luther King himself demonstrated."

Charlie Osborne, a U.S. Marines veteran, said the federal No Child Left Behind act "requires schools to give military recruiters information about the students."

"I'm proud I served in the military, and I will say the military recruiters (in the schools) are doing their job, a good job," Osborne said. "But they are salesmen."

Osborne went on to say, "Some say that for us to speak of peace is unpatriotic, but that doesn't make sense to me. Our president says we are a peaceful nation. Our group is just trying to help our children have all the information they can."

Board chairman Walter Derryberry told the speakers, "We will take all this into consideration."

Both Black and Queen said that they have been treated well by Schools Director Martin as they have tried to resolve the issue of gaining access to schools.

Martin said, "We have first amendment and equal access issues, and maybe others in this, and I recommend that we refer it to the board attorney so he can study it and provide us with the parameters on all these issues."

After the meeting, the Herald-Citizen asked Principal Shanks about reports that someone had complained to him about the written materials the peace group had brought into the school last fall.

Shanks said he had received complaints about it from two students and one adult. The adult was a youth minister in a local church, he said.

Asked if those who complained did so from the viewpoint of a particular political party, Shanks said he did not know anything about the political beliefs of the three.

But when he looked at the material, he found it to be "of a political nature," he said, and he decided the whole issue should be brought to the school board. 

Published February 04, 2005 12:06 PM CST 

COPYRIGHT  2005 Herald-Citizen, a division of Cleveland Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.


Again, please hold us all in the Light.  Help us keep focus on eternal truths, deep love, and the path of the Spirit. 

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