In Defense of the Public Process

by Jonathan Krall

Lately, Grassroots Alexandria has been the subject of public criticism over our engagement with City Council and our efforts to shift school resources away from policing and towards wellness. In the latest example, published by the Alexandria Times on February 10, two Alexandrians take issue with the public process. Complaints about the public process are common, but they do not usually involve personal accusations and innuendo. While scorched-earth politics is sadly accepted on the national scene, it should not be tolerated at the local level. We should never pit neighbor against neighbor by demonizing each other. If people who engage in the public process are attacked for doing so, we might not have a public process at all.

A common complaint about the process is “too little outreach,” that city staff has not contacted the affected parties. In the current debate, City Council members are being accused of too much outreach. This is disturbing. That Councilmen Chapman and Aguirre met with members of Tenants and workers United, Grassroots Alexandria, and Racial Justice Alexandria, is hardly unusual. Nevertheless, on December 12, 2021, Grassroots Alexandria, along with our friends in TWU, were said to have “undue influence” over City Council. We wish.

With the support of several letters from Grassroots Alexandria volunteers, The Alexandria Times published our response to this fake controversy on January 20. Thanks to all who wrote (and continue to write) to the Alexandria Times, City Council, and the School Board, in support of the students.

Sadly and historically we too often rely on police when students act out or when adults “fall through the cracks,” becoming houseless. This reliance on cops instead of care at all stages of life is the essence of the school-to-prison pipeline. The disproportionate suspensions and arrests of Black and Brown students in our schools suggest that students (and adults) are not falling through the cracks, they are being pushed. This must stop.

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