PEORIA -- To sit through the long, boring meeting of the Peoria School District 150 school board on August 26 was to get a very wrong impression of what's really going on. If you wern't paying close attention.
Like a meeting of the Politboro, person after person -- administrators and principals primarily -- came to a table to praise Supt. Grenita Lathan for improving the test scores of the students with a team approach that everyone loves.
Yeah, right. That went on for more than two hours "All the children are above average," to quote Garrison Keillor.
Since when have public meetings, where taxpayers are supposed to learn what is happening, become public relations shows?
That once happened only in dictatorships. But it seems to be occurring in District 150 and now the Peoria City Council where everyone loves the chief of police. Except those who don't but keep quiet.
The Journal Star of Aug. 27 wasn't fooled about District 150. Here's the headline: "District 150 registers declines."
Test scores are down, budget deficits hang in there at $6 million. The school board blames the state of Illinois. Same song, 100th verse.
Meanwhile principals and other vital personnel are rotated before they even get to know the school community. That's not the state's fault.
Compare that with the stability that parents and students once took for granted with neighborhood schools! Schools without endless test taking, that nevertheless produced mostly good citizens.
Now there is also endless busing, and portable buildings which sources say cannot be used whenever tornado watches are issued, and where the air conditioning isn't working in some of them.
All that while solid older buildings, paid for long ago, sit empty or are demolished.
But what can we expect from a school board that calls its meeting "a committee of the whole," even though it's just like every other regular meeting. Except that the public comments are scheduled last on the agenda, for only two minutes.
I will confess -- I couldn't stand another minute of the show and left early, leaving my handy digital recorder for someone else to operate. A recording of the public comments are posted now. Another person who wanted to comment also left.
I would have congratulated the board on releasing more information on the website about the meeting. Likely not the full board packet, which I want, but at least more details than previously. That's good first step. But they didn't hear it from me.
-- Elaine Hopkins