Let's give credit where credit is due. According to the Grand Rapids Press, G.R. Mayor George Heartwell (a.k.a. Big Sister) eschewed the usual leftist pieties to stick up for parents unhappy with the Grand Rapids public schools. He criticized the school board members who had publicly excoriated parents opposing Taylor's "Iron Curtain".
Well, maybe not quite a criticism, but at least Big Sister said this: "I know the day will come that the Grand Rapids public schools will be the schools of choice for parents in the suburban districts. But until then, I'm disturbed by some of the attitudes from these board members." Those board members were Arnie Smithalexander who called parents racists because they wanted to transfer their kids out of the city schools to suburban ones, and Lisa Hinkel who said those parents can either move out of the city into the 'burbs or pay tuition for a private school.
So not very stern stuff from Heartwell in light of the poisonous statements by Smithalexander and Hinkel, but remember, folks, he is taking a stand on unfamiliar territory -- i.e., neither leftist nor establishment insider. The man may be a chameleon when it comes to political opportunity, but I sense Big Sister actually sees the real wrong in what they said. That earns him a pat on the back.
Also, one school board member, Jim Rinck, finally expressed some concern with Smithalexander and Hinkel. On Tuesday he said, "You don't ever tell people you disagree with to leave the city." Then he softened that tepid admonishment by explaining that the two probably got a little too enthusiastic in their support of Taylor's anti-transfer policy. And just to make it clear which side of Taylor's "Iron Curtain" he is on, Rinck suggested that parents who don't want their kids to attend Grand Rapids public schools don't have a real beef because the schools aren't actually "crawling with gangs and violence". No, the violence is merely common not epidemic. Shame on those parents for wanting discipline in the classroom to be common instead.
Well, it's probably too much to expect both Big Sister and the school board to stand by parents. But at least one has, and that's a change for the better.