Education bill gets public hearing

/ 21 March 2011

I spent part of this morning at a public hearing over in the state office building, where the education finance committee considered the education bill. I went to the hearing because I’d learned, last week, that the chair of the committee had recommended eliminating integration funding from the state budget. Since I’m deeply committed to school integration, and further, since this funding is part of what makes my son’s school function — Crosswinds is in the East Metro Integration District — it was important to me to be well informed about what was being proposed.

I expected to be concerned about this move, and perhaps even upset, since the Republicans control both houses of our legislature and can be counted upon to have views that differ from mine on education. But what I didn't expect was to be so totally floored by the horribly condescending posture of the chair of the committee, Pat Garofalo. It was bad enough how he treated his fellow colleague and committee woman Mindy Greiling, lecturing her at one point as if she was a small child who was acting out, but when he started responding to women of color who were testifying before the committee by saying things like "I just love listening you," I nearly choked.

I'm not sure what to do about him, but at a minimum I want to make it clear that I expect our state legislators -- of whatever party -- to be respectful of ALL of their constituents. I most assuredly do not appreciate this kind of embarrassing behavior, which reflects badly on all of us. Rather than eliminate integration funding from the budget, I think Rep. Garofalo ought to seeking help in learning something about intercultural competency, which is precisely what that funding supports!