Keep The Scouts (and other groups)

It is maddening that our illustrious school board will even entertain a discussion on this subject, but they will.

At the next meeting on Aug. 30, they will debate proposed rule changes that may shut out outside groups such as Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts among others from GCS facilities before 6pm. Paid-by-the-hour board attorney Jill Wilson told the News & Record last month that it is for “safety reasons.”

Right.

Today’s Lorraine Ahern column in the N&R spells this out. But here’s the other big issue, see this excerpt:

Scouting organizations could no longer send information or reminders home from school in students’ homework packets — a prime recruiting tool, especially for Cub Scouts and Brownies.

“It effectively puts the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts out of business,” said Maurice Hull, president of the Old North State Council of Boy Scouts.

“If we can’t send the information home with kids, we might as well not have the meetings, because no one will know about them.”

The changes would also affect an array of other after-school enrichment groups, from Mad Scientist chemistry labs to Young Rembrandts of the Piedmont art studios, but none as large as the Scouts.

I’m the parent of a Brownie. I do not support this at all. Public school facilities are just that…public. It means I paid for it with my tax money. So if my Brownie troop wants to meet before 6pm, or if they want to recruit new children, they should have the right to.

Once again, when are we going to start talking about educating these children instead of wasting mindless time and energy debating silliness such as this?

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UPDATE, 8/22/07, 12:53PM: Here’s a link to the “draft” GCS document titled “Community Use of School Facilities.” In addition, the N&R Editorial Board is taking a look at the issue, click here to go to their blog and see what some of the editorial writers are saying.

E.C. 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. I’m with you on this one – it is a ridiculous discussion. Ahearn’s article wasn’t very complete, so I’m a bit unclear on the exact nature of the changes. I think the issue here is what qualifies as “in-house” afterschool programs and what doesn’t. If the in-house programs are funded through the school budget, fine; if some [even one] aren’t, then the district’s policy is unconstitutional.

    In 2001 the Supreme Court heard a case that originated in Milford, NY in which the school district denied a local Good News Club from using its facilities. To make a very long story short, the school was found to have engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by barring the GNC from public facilities. NC state law is different, certainly [and I’m not familiar with its details], but I’d expect the same general discriminatory principles to apply here; just a different form of discrimination. The result of the case is that schools can’t just pick and choose at will which public groups use public facilities.

    Regardless of any legal issues here, the discussion is ridiculous. The Scouts [and other benevolent groups] provide a valuable community service that our students desperately need. Inhibiting their work does a disservice to everyone.

    The ban on literature distribution isn’t the most important aspect here, but it might be the most worrying.

  2. Hi Matt. I’ve updated this entry, with a link to a supposed draft document from Guilford County Schools and what the editorial writers from the N&R are pondering about. I know that there’s going to be a concerted effort on behalf of all local scouting organizations to fight back any changes with respect to facilities usage.

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