A member of the Charlottesville School Board is proposing that a framed picture of President Barack Obama be placed in all of the city’s public schools, as well as the division’s central office.
None of Juandiego Wade’s colleagues was quick to jump on board with his proposal at Thursday’s meeting, nor did any members dismiss it.
Wade insisted that if the proposal were approved, he’d raise the money for the pictures and frames - which he believes can be obtained for free or very little money - through a private fundraising campaign.
“It would be no cost to the school system,“ Wade said after the meeting, noting that Obama is an inspirational figure to students and faculty.
Board Chairman Ned Michie echoed the notion that, “there’s no question that he’s an inspiring [person],“ adding, however, that if a picture were hung of Obama, the same honor would have to be given to future presidents.
School Board member Colette Blount shared the sentiment.
“I think it sets a precedent,“ Blount said.
The board agreed to further discuss the proposal at a later date.
The following is excerpted from an interview with Wade following Thursday’s meeting regarding his Obama proposal:
Q. How did you come up with this idea?
A. “It’s just something I’ve been thinking about for a while ... I just think it’s going to be very inspiring for the students, visitors and teachers. And I know that there’s a lot of people in this community that we could put up there, but I just think that President Obama is the most recognizable.“
Q. Does this show favoritism toward Obama over other presidents?
A. “Well, he’s the only one right now, and [his election is historical]. So, yes, I think it is different, and if we go with this it sounds like it may be where we have to use all presidents. We make policy every day. A School Board 20 years from now may decide that we don’t want to do this anymore.“
Q. [Are some folks] going to say, “Well, why wasn’t this honor given to President Bush?“
A. “Again, I said that the election of President Obama was historical. He was the first African American. His upbringing is inspiring, and so it is different from past Democrat and Republican presidents. I know that some people will say that it’s partisan or whatever, but it’s what I want to propose and we’ll just have to see what the other board members have to say about it.“
Q. If you’re still a School Board member in 2012 and a Republican gets elected to office would you then say ... “Let’s put up a picture of that president?“
A. If we are going with the policy that some board members have mentioned today, than we will, but I can’t make a statement on that, because I have no idea who’s going to be president at that point. But I think the American people are pretty good at selecting who they want to lead the country, whether that’s Republican or Democrat or independent.“
A. “Again, I said that the election of President Obama was historical. He was the first African American.