Like multiple people in our community, I share the concern about the showing of "The First White President" video to an eighth grade English class at the Chariho campus. It was connected to The Atlantic magazine titled "Trump and The Power of Whiteness” and, as reported in the Dec. 14 editon of The Sun, was discussed at the Chariho School Committee meeting — “Chariho panel grapples with video fallout.”
First, I applaud Sen. Elaine J. Morgan, R-Hopkinton, for sending the letter to school committee members. Even noting that Chariho Superintendent Barry Ricci may have been correct in saying there were some inaccuracies in the letter Sen. Morgan sent. I also applaud Clay Johnson, a school committee member from Richmond, for having it placed on the agenda for discussion.
President Trump certainly says things and does things I would not if I was President of the United States. But there are things I agree with him, and would do. However it needs to be remembered that Hopkinton and Richmond were carried by President Trump in 2016, with Charlestown going for Hillary Clinton.
A big concern is how an eighth grade English class or any English class is a good venue for such a video? Are views other than liberal and progressive fairly presented or considered in Chariho classes? The concern many in the public have is that public schools generally appear to promote liberal and progressive views while conservative views may be best described as denigrated or not considered as a legitimate perspective.
It also was interesting to learn about the concern some had after learning that parents contacted Sen. Morgan about the video rather than contacting members of the school committee. Sen. Morgan is Rhode Island's only woman Republican state senator and represents the Chariho region with Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere, R-Westerly, as well as three Rhode Island state representatives. Chariho School Committee members need to reflect on why some of their constituents would prefer to go outside the Chariho establishment with their concerns on this and other matters regarding school issues. Is the school committee as a whole open to all opinions and ideologies being entertained? Do they have the confidence of the public that this is so? Fairly or unfairly, the answer is generally no.
Both Democrats and Republicans have brought honor and dishonor to our nation in office. However, I remind readers it was a Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, the only American President with an earned Ph.D., who re-segregated the federal bureaucracy upon becoming President. Republicans were active in desegregating the federal bureaucracy after the Civil War. A Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt had appointed to the United States Supreme Court as his first court appointment, U. S. Sen. Hugo Black, D-Alabama, who had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. While even later U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd,D-West Virginia, who also had been a klan member, was elected by the Democrats in the United States Senate as their leader. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt created a stir when he dined with the notable African American Booker T. Washington at The White House in the 20th century's first decade.
As an active Republican locally, with a great interest in government and political history, I would welcome the opportunity to speak with Chariho students if asked. As the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee chairman, I will be putting this issue on our Jan. 25 town committee agenda. I expect at least one of the gubernatorial candidates to be present. Our meetings are held the fourth Thursdays of the month at the Hopkinton Police Station, 406 Woodville Road, at 7 p.m. Those Republicans and independents wishing to run for school committee in Hopkinton in 2018 as Republicans can attend one of our meetings or contact me directly at 401-622-5382; or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone who registered as a Democrat but wishes to disaffiliate, must do so no later than March if they want to run as a Republican. There are three Hopkinton school committee openings in November 2018. It needs to be remembered that the role of Town Council members in education is very limited. The real power is vested in the school committee locally on school decisions.
Scott Bill Hirst
The writer is the Hopkinton Town Moderator and a former six-term member of the Hopkinton Town Council.