Editorial: Why civility is the answer | SierraSun.com

Editorial: Why civility is the answer

The Editorial Board

If the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board does not adopt the nine tenets of civility and#8212; it tabled it at Wednesday night’s school board meeting and#8212; it risks sending the wrong message to our community and#8212; that some of our board members do not want to create a civil, comfortable environment for public discussion about local education issues.

With the board split and one member absent, our elected leaders backed off joining the local Speak Your Peace campaign and#8212; a pact that asks for residents and institutions to compose themselves responsibly in public (like listening and being attentive).

So far, nearly a dozen government agencies and more than 500 local residents publicly support the initiative.

The district board is in a unique position. No government body has more divisive issues that traditionally become personal, petty and confrontational.

They have an opportunity to change our educational culture into one that fosters discussion, collaboration and compromise. Because of that, no government body would be better served by upholding the tenets instilled in the Speak Your Peace agreement.

We strongly encourage the board to sign onto the Speak Your Peace campaign at its next opportunity.

During last night’s public comment period, a resident read aloud a private e-mail string between an absent school board member and a parent, which spiraled downward into petty, personal disagreements that had little to do with actually fixing issues created by the recent school reconfiguration, and more to do with personality disputes.

The Sierra Sun received that specific e-mail string weeks ago, and decided not to publish it. We felt due to the personality conflict obvious within the string, that publishing it in a story would have been impossible to put in the proper context.

It was also not meant to be a public document, and ethically ambiguous for us to publish.

We discourage residents from using public discussion time to solicit shock value and highlight personality disputes. A public that can stay focused on the policy, and not the people, will be able to overcome personality differences and arrive at solutions regarding the school reconfiguration.

Obviously, we encourage our elected officials to do the same. But someone has to take the high road first.