Tuesday night’s school board candidate forum began on a negative note with candidate Arch Brooks speaking out against the sponsoring organization, the NAACP.
Brooks said the worst mistake he has made since moving back to Columbia from Chicago was joining the Missouri National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“The NAACP of Missouri is the most trifling civil rights organization on the planet,” Brooks said. “A lawsuit will be filed immediately in the Boone County Court for a full accounting of the Missouri NAACP and its activities.”
Brooks leaves meeting
Brooks feels that the Missouri NAACP is irresponsible and that the organization’s “game playing” has done damage to thousands of Missouri’s minorities.
Columbia branch NAACP President Mary A. Ratliff interrupted Brooks and asked him to stick to school board issues or leave. Brooks chose to leave the forum.
All candidates, except for Rhonda Garland, who was not present, continued with their opening statements.
Audience questions concern ROTC, trailers
Forum moderator, Virginia Law, NAACP political action committee chair, then took questions from the audience.
The first question posed to the candidates was regarding the addition of ROTC programs to the district.
Incumbents Don Ludwig and the Rev. David Ballenger acknowledged interest in the program but identified funding as a constraint.
Mike Martin said voters and the community should decide whether the ROTC program is appropriate for the district.
The candidates were also asked about some schools’ use of trailers that lack plumbing.
Daren Preis said that he looked at the issue when he first began running but that he found most teachers and students liked the trailers because they give them privacy and quiet.
Preis said that although teachers think bathroom breaks are inconvenient, internal plumbing would hold the trailers to their sites when they need to be moveable.
Ludwig said that as the district receives more bond money, it will work to replace the trailers.
Issue of diversity discussed
Diversity was a major issue, specifically how the candidates would promote diversity within the school system.
Martin said that African-American history should be seen as natural, not special.
“We should call them famous Americans, not famous African Americans,” Martin said.
He would like to see history include African Americans beyond civil rights issues.
The school board elections are Tuesday.