The Moore County Board of Education sought to bury their hatchets Monday, and for a change it wasn’t into each other’s backs.
That’s a notable — and welcome — change from last week, when stressed and strained relations of the past four months devolved into utter chaos and screaming — literally, screaming — at each other. It was a disgrace, and it was clear from Monday’s civilized behavior no one had the appetite for more.
It’s been an “anything goes” style of rhetoric in the last few months, and there is real physical and fiscal harm that can come from these behaviors and words.
Board members have been the juveniles they are supposed to be educating: texting about each other, running down each other in the media, stoking friends and supporters on “social” media into anger. They’ve openly questioned teachers’ and administrators’ motivations and qualifications and, despite getting regular reports and briefings, cross-examined senior staff over operations minutiae well below the level at which the board should involve itself. It’s like watching a low-rent version of the HBO glam-soap “Succession.”
Real Risk Abounds
Forget, for a moment, that the divisive discourse is derailing honest and meaningful discussions about budget, policy and getting schools back on a post-pandemic track.
The real danger lies in the potential for personal harm against elected officials and others. In a Facebook post last week, Pinehurst resident Steve Woodward, a leader of the Moore County Republican Party, wrote, “Moore County Board (of Education) chair (Libby) Carter is a dictator who needs to be destroyed.”
Not “defeated at polls.” Not “flooded with letters.” Destroyed.
Meanwhile, school board members Robert Levy and David Hensley have taken to WEEB_990 AM — once a little community-minded radio station that broadcast high school football games and kids’ visits with Santa — to regularly run down the rest of the board, the professional staff and spin a rotation of lies about education that is fanning the flames of the Anything Goes rhetoric. Oh, and they’re cracking jokes about the Holocaust, as The Pilot showed this past weekend, accusing staff of producing propaganda videos akin to Nazi Germany.
Someone to Count On
But as shattered as this board was last Tuesday, on Monday it spent eight hours in a room together, working through a 19-item agenda and doing it in relative harmony, albeit a long-winded peace. And at meeting’s end, when it was time for board comments, that peace found words.
Levy: “One of the things I hope the public understands is yes, we do have a lot of differences of opinion on this board. But when it comes to the students, everyone on this board I believe ... is trying to do the best for the students that they possibly can.”
Hensley: “I believe today that the board did exactly what we should be doing. We covered business items, made decisions and listened to staff proposals, and we gave guidance and intent, which is the role of a board.”
Carter, however, was the only one who offered an apology for last week. With her voice breaking with emotion, she gave voice to what everyone knows.
“Whether it’s due to my poor leadership or to the fact that we’re not always willing to listen to one another, it’s not the role models we need to be, as we present ourselves to the children of Moore County. They deserve better.
“We can do better and I ask for your support, each one of you, as we go forward to realize that we are the adults in this equation, and we must work like the adults in this equation. And we must continue to do our best for those young ones who are counting on us.”
We are all counting on the seven of you. We do not expect lock-step agreement. But we do expect — and demand — that you respect us and each other. Be the best servant leaders this community deserves, not the worst.
A staple of newspaper journalism, editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not any one person. Editorials are published in The Pilot's Opinion section both online and in print.