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A Ben Carson Reading Room at Old Kings Elementary: What’s the School Board Smoking?

| October 8, 2015

ben carson reading room at old kings elementary

Old Kings Elementary’s media center isn’t lacking for a ‘safe place’ to read, or for originality from local artists: that’s a Baliker sculpture in the middle of the room. (© FlaglerLive)

For our conservative friends, an alternative version of this column appears here.

It’s not often that the Flagler County School Board acts as if under the influence of LSD. It did so Tuesday when it approved a so-called Ben Carson Reading Room at Old Kings Elementary School.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive There might have been nothing objectionable to either Ben Carson or a reading room named after him until recently, when Carson was just a skilled surgeon who two decades ago started a scholarship fund and reading rooms in elementary schools to encourage literacy.

Then Carson started running for president and running his mouth. He’s polling well, but only because so far the Republican bus-full of crazies favors the clueless. Carson and Donald Trump, his more bellowing version, don’t know government from their adenoid. But they know how to exploit their mobs’ prejudices.

Before we get to Carson’s bigotry, just the fact that someone is running for office should be hint enough that it’s not a good idea to plaster our public schools with his self-promoting marketing tools, however well intentioned. If we can have a Ben Carson reading room established smack in the middle of his election run, then why not a Donald Trump business club? Why not a Clinton Foundation study hall, or a Jim Manfre junior cop academy, all accompanied by their own token scholarships, of course?

The reading room idea at Old Kings is that of Garth McDonald, a 69-year-old retired surgeon who sits on the board of the Carson Scholarship Fund. He bought a $1 million house in the Hammock a little over a year ago. Through his intercession the fund is providing the $15,000 start-up for the room—to buy furniture, $6,600 worth of books and a few hundred dollars for incentives. “What the project is, is being able to create a safe reading environment for students,” Old Kings principal Ben Osypian told the school board. But isn’t every school’s elaborate media center designed for that purpose? Aren’t there lesser-served places than better-funded school libraries that could actually use a reading room, questionable sponsors aside?

Yet none of the board members objected during a presentation that took all of seven minutes. Most thought it a grand idea. Only Colleen Conklin cautioned: “I just wish it wasn’t tied with someone running for president,” she said. “That is my only hesitation because I don’t like the feeling that we would be engaging in any way to politicize the donation at all.”

But you are. Clearly and unequivocally. The fact that Carson started this in 2000 doesn’t alter the fact that he is spreading these rooms in 2015, while running for office, and using the shield of a charity to evade a scrutiny the school board should have applied if these reading rooms are not to be ethics-free zones, let alone ploys for political candidates to evade campaign laws.

I might say I have nothing against Carson, and that the whole thing would be hunky-dory the moment Carson is booted out of the presidential race, which is a matter of time. But I have plenty against Carson, and so should every self-respecting member of this school board and the principal willing to have Carson’s name slur Old Kings’s walls.

Let’s assume Carson was not running. We now know things about him that we cannot un-know. And knowing what we know disqualifies him as a role model to school children. I don’t mean his idiotic blatherings comparing Obamacare to slavery or comparing Democrats to Nazis, or his claiming that AP History is a training course for ISIS, or even calling the death and suffering of soldiers “a gift from god” as he tried to make a point about government bureaucracy. Politicians’ quickest visa to Fox News, stupid politicians especially, is the unaccountable exaggeration. Carson is a product of the Network of Hate. He speaks the language.

But there are limits. When he compares gays to pedophiles or homosexuality to pedophilia, he’s displaying the sort of prejudice that has no place in an alleged role model. You could make the argument that Carson is simply behind the time, as many Americans are on the subject. Fine. The same can’t be said about his denigration of Muslims. When he said that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” he was being an out-and-out bigot. It’s no different than saying a Jew, a Catholic or a Hispanic shouldn’t be in charge of this nation. Or a Christian, for that matter.

Imagine the next Muslim kid at Old Kings Elementary who thinks she can be president, walking into a reading room to brush up on her Founders. Carson’s name doesn’t belong on the threshold of that reading room, whether he’s running for president or not: he’s already made it clear that he belongs, but certain others don’t. Like that little girl with presidential dreams. How revolting.

Worse, having a Ben Carson Reading Room at Old Kings means, as the principal put it to the school board, that there’s “a day during literacy week that we also celebrate Ben Carson.” That would be no different, at this point, than celebrating Bill Cosby during Black History Month. That celebration might have had a place a couple of years ago, before the scabrous revelations about Cosby’s predatory habits. It has no place now.

Same goes for Carson, who presumes to be a lot more than a comedian and Jell-O salesman. But the school board doesn’t get it, though Allah knows it should: If one of its employees were to peddle Islamophobic insults to students, that employee would be fired as surely as if the employee were degrading students or being racist toward them. Yet the board thinks nothing of celebrating an Islamophobe in its elementary school. What an insult to Muslim students—or to the board’s own Student Code of Conduct, which brooks no bigotry of any kind in our schools.

I’d like to think it’s merely a blind spot, that the board will eventually catch on (the project hasn’t been formally approved). If not, shame on the school board for enabling a permanent slur to have a room of its own at Old Kings Elementary.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him on Twitter @PierreTristam.

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96 Responses for “A Ben Carson Reading Room at Old Kings Elementary: What’s the School Board Smoking?”

  1. GoodFella says:

    I guess someone struck a nerve with you Pierre. If you are so proud of your Muslim heritage why did you feel it necessary to change your name to an non sounding Muslim name? Live by example.
    P.S. and by the way I already know your not going to post this comment!

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Goodfella, my original name–Haddad–is in fact a Christian name, as I unfortunately was when I was born (we can’t all be born Jews, but we can always dream). There are those who’ve adopted Haddad as Muslims, but that’s probably from trying to sound more Christian, god knows why. I figured I’d get out of the racket and just have my own, though clearly it hasn’t stopped the bigots and fools from making asses of themselves over it.

  2. FLnative says:

    “Mr. Tristam, what you’ve just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent, rant was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  3. Tremendous shame on our school board for this. Every. One. Of. Them.

  4. m&m says:

    The school board has again displayed their stupidity and are entering in a politicail area where they don’t belong..

  5. The smartest person running for president and likely the most honest and least shady by a long shot

  6. Old Kings once again. Their next project will be a Mormon homophobic playground. They should have no problem passing it through the school board.

  7. Max Bunting says:

    You don’t like his politics? So you relate the school board to the “clueless crazies” of the Republican Party… Wow way to come through again Flagler live..

  8. confidential says:

    This is our public school sustained by our hard earned taxes and should be no room or naming for political gratification. Schools should be neutral and not geared to left or right! Yes wonder what board is smoking or maybe too much Kool Aid. C’mon Mrs. McDonald only comment against from Conklin?

  9. The school board is so clueless. This is out and out pandering to a political candidate and is so inappropriate. It would be grounds to withdraw my children from the school if I had any there.

  10. Ava Marie Gallagher says:

    I agree F.L. wholeheartedly. From my experience meeting him I would attest to him not being a role model for children. It was nothing offensive. It was just his attitude with the children I had accompanied to one of his presentations.

  11. Naturally, it would be fine if it were called the Bernie Sanders reading room. If the Board is indeed on LSD, it’s because they got into your stash, Tristam!

  12. steve miller says:

    I’m sure if it was a “CLINTON READING ROOM” you would be silent !

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Steve, I think I make clear in the piece that doing this sort of thing with any candidate at election season isn’t kosher.

  13. YankeeExPat says:

    Next will be the Donald Trump vocational school for cosmetology and Hair design.

  14. groot says:

    “Worse, having a Ben Carson Reading Room at Old Kings means, as the principal put it to the school board, that there’s “a day during literacy week that we also celebrate Ben Carson.” That would be no different, at this point, than celebrating Bill Cosby during Black History Month. That celebration might have had a place a couple of years ago, before the scabrous revelations about Cosby’s predatory habits. It has no place now.” Cosby and Carson is not the most valid comparison. Don’t worry, the kids can’t vote. No need to get all worked up. Could have been worse, Trump could have contributed a cool mill to redo the library. It’s really just not a big deal at all.

  15. Josh, Dirk, Max, Darin… all said it great. This wasn’t reporting.. it was a politically tainted piece spewing the writers bias.
    No journalism. Do your research before you get upset fellow readers. Its not so sinister.

  16. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    Sounds like a great place to stick fantasy.

  17. Well if the writer of this ridiculous article would stop to think for a second, they’d realize it makes sense considering Ben Carson has been saving childrens lives for very long time, is actually a very intelligent man even if his opinions differs from yours and from the book he wrote his mother pushed reading on him and his brother. So yeah I would think their decision to name it after him makes sense.

  18. So much for non biased reporting. Writer is clearly spewing his own political bias. Dr Carson has been an advocate for education for years.

    • Julie, this piece is an opinion column, and it’s clearly labeled as such. In the meantime, perhaps the one who needs to stop “spewing” is the one who doesn’t know the difference between an opinion piece and a news story, yet has the presumption to tell the editor of a local publication how to do his job.

    • And therefore, an opinion response is also valid. Or do you only care for one sided opinions??

  19. There are plenty of worthy people to name the library after – why turn it into a political statement? I agree that Flagler Live was unnecessarily inflammatory but I also agree with the premise of the article.

  20. bob says:

    pierre you are an antichrist hater of the bible and of conservatives repent pierre
    jesus christ is god and died for you lost sinner you can scoff and laugh all
    you want you sodomite lover and baby killer but you have a ever dying
    soul and spirit when you leave this earth. read the bible and and bow
    tothe lord jesus christ as your personal saviour. repent
    heb 9-27
    romans 6-23

  21. Sherry E says:

    Ben Carson has NOTHING to do with Flagler County, or Florida, for that matter!

    Regardless of whether one would vote for Ben Carson or not (certainly I would not), it is unethical for ANY ANYONE to “buy” the name of a public place! Follow the money. . . for a little over $6,000. . . you too could have your name on a public building. . . NOT! Such an honor should be earned, NOT “bought” and certainly not for publicity!

  22. I think the point most are missing is the timing of this contribution. Why not hold off a year then make the contribution?

  23. YankeeExPat says:

    RE: Pierre Tristam aka the “AnitiChrist”?

    I knew the AntiChrist would rise up from Palm Coast FL, …………….It says so in the Bible

  24. Jimmy Conn says:

    Great article! I think that Ben Carson’s name on a “reading room”, or any other room for that matter, should not be allowed because it sends a signal to the children of Flagler County and the community at large that its okay to cut down someones religious beliefs, Well, its not, and very UnAmerican! Whatever happened to freedom of religious persecution in our constitution? This man might be a great neuro-surgeon, but not presidential material.

  25. I think it’s a wonderful thing! Thank you Old Kings!!! Thank you Ben Carson! It’s Pierre Tristam who is smoking crack!

  26. I don’t see a problem with it. I don’t know who I’m voting for but anyone who encourages reading & is footing the bill, what is the problem? He’s a neurosurgeon! Lighten up!

  27. I can’t wait for the Obama negotiating room, and the Palin IQ testing room, and the Trump hair salon room and the Clinton…..well,…..never mind

  28. Bon Bell says:

    Brilliant Neurosurgeon YES… Enlightened thinker … NO WAY! This is just some RIGHT WING EXTREMIST play to further their STUCK IN THE 1950’s idiocy into the next generation. And Dr. Carson keeps reinforcing this via a new offensive statement or two or three every single day. What the heck kind of SCHOOL BOARD do we have here? Looks like the kind who might BAN CLIMATE CHANGE material & encourage all except Muslims to strive to be President one day. This man is as bigoted as they come. Nice work School Board ! !

  29. tulip says:

    Lately I’ve had less and less respect for the School Board but this Carson thing has finally done it for me.

    Why not wait until after the election? Why now? If Carson is so special why wasn’t it done a long time ago?

  30. Tim Stanford says:

    This is no shock since not only is Ben a homophobe but Janet McDonald a board member expressed her homophobic views to me. Great way to teach your children Palm Coast.

  31. I’m conflicted.. Good for Dr. Carson for contributing to our kids and being a brilliant surgeon, but are there gonna be books now in the library telling kids Earth is 5000 years old or will there be episodes of The Flintstones in the “documentaries” section?
    Keep his politics out of it and hooray for OKES getting something nice.

  32. put the weed out… there are more viable options out there…

  33. graspingforair says:

    Well now.
    Some of your supporters got somewhat riled about this subject, Pierre.
    WOW Imagine that. Current political candidates running for the highest office that our country affords can (and apparently are allowed to} buy space in our school system’s student areas. That is so wrong in so many ways. To learn about each of the candidates in class is promoting our system of government so each student can absorb a general knowledge. That part I understand. What I DON’T understand is how one particular candidate is show-cased in the school system, and so many people cannot see why that is wrong. It boggles my mind!
    Let’s try it this way: Kennedy-1962. The world in which I lived at that time declared that to have a Catholic president was selling the United States Of America down-river.
    Those of us old enough to remember those times will remember that that Catholic person made the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA the proudest country on the face of the earth!
    I’m not happy at ALL with the extremist dirt bags that are covering our earth! Somehow we will survive!
    So, Pierre, hang in there, please. Your family needs you and Flagler County needs you. :)

  34. Tim Stanford says:

    The writer of the article is a good man and just because he pointed out the facts, I can’t believe how many people in this town can’t handle the truth.

  35. just wondering says:

    Why must the children celebrate Ben Carson during literacy week? What is the cause for celebration? Is he a writer? Did he do something worth “celebrating”? I’m confused. Is it commonplace for people who donate money to children mandate they celebrate him or her? Is it really a donation if you make someone worship you in return? That seems more of an indoctrination to me.

    I understand this is a project and foundations want to have control over where their money is spent. But let’s not mince words or play semantics. This is being sold as a good deed. Only it comes with kickbacks and strings attached. While this may seem permissible or commonplace for adults, the ones who the strings are tied to are children.

  36. Commom Sense says:

    It worries me that I live in the same community with “Bob” and “Goodfella”. Why do I picture them as white, old, uneducated, Republican and racists?

  37. David B says:

    Thank you Dr. Garth McDonald and Dr. Ben Carson for this great cause, and your contribution. For you Pierre, you need to get a life, Dude !

  38. Emily says:

    I support the school boards decision to name a Reading Room after Ben Carson. It is disrespectful to ask, “What the school board members were smoking” and the comment displays your ignorance.
    Ben Carson is a good role model for our students.

  39. Richard S. says:

    I want to thank Pierre Tristam for bringing up the subject of the Ben Carson Reading Room. If it hadn’t been for your rant, I wouldn’t have ever known about the good works of Dr. Ben Carson.

  40. Wow! Can’t believe how ungrateful people are. I can think of 10 schools in my county that would love to have new furniture and books in their library. Dr. Carson’s political views are too conservative for me but I have the utmost respect for him. He was raised by a single mother with an elementary school education and she encouraged her boys to read to learn about the world and now he is paying it forward. He pulled himself up by his boot straps (exemplifying much more character than 50% of the population today that relies on handouts) attended Yale, worked his ass off and became a world renowned surgeon for children. Seriously people? Think of him as a human being who has established over 100 reading rooms in the US from a program he started in 1994 to make a difference in the lives of thousands of children. I guess you liberals can’t appreciate or recognize a decent, honorable human being trying to do something kind right before your eyes.

    • Not when that “decency and honor” are shrouded in homophobia, islamo-phobia and all sorts of other nifty bigotries, large and small. No ma’am. I’d rather our kids not treat someone like that as a hero… Certainly not where public bloody schools are concerned.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I am from Baltimore. When Ben Carson was growing up, he was known for his bad temper and his hands were not always clean, as is is true of many kids growing up in the projects. Luckily for him, he had a very strong mother who was determined to guide him in the right direction, no matter what the odds. But, today’s Republicans,meeting him as a young man, would have called him a thug. Now, he’s their new hero. Go figure.

  42. Algernon says:

    Pierre, you’re right on with this. So much of what Carson says is misguided, wrong, and mean spirited, but because he talks softly some people just take it all in.

    His name should NOT be on a facility in our Flagler public schools. It sends the wrong message to the community AND the kids.

  43. Oh, for fuck’s sake, people: it is from a journalist, but it happens to be his opinion, and as such, was placed correctly in the OPINION column. Unlike that nifty bit of programming that you watch as likely as not, that doesn’t even try to distinguish between the two.

  44. Stephani says:

    Yuck. It’s gross that people think it’s okay for political advertising to take place in the schools and no, Ben Carson is NOT an acceptable role model with his prejudiced vitriol!

  45. the nerve! how dare they try to get a nice library at a school! I dont care if he is running for president or not and I highly doubt its going to sway voters all that much. Im happy to hear Old Kigs is getting something nice. Im sure most kida wont even realize or care that the room is named after someone.

  46. Nancy N. says:

    Bob, whatever happened to “love thy neighbor” and “turn the other cheek”, hmmm?

  47. Nancy N. says:

    Yankee ExPat…I thought Obama was the AntiChrist? I’m so confused!

  48. m&m says:

    WHAT are you smoking E?????

  49. DwFerg says:

    How a two decade old scholarship fund to encourage literacy could become so controversial. Had the room been established in 2014 ,or earlier, would the name of the room been subject to removal ? It’s obvious that you do not agree with the School board support of this project.You call Fox News, the “network of Hate,” have you ever considered that there are many people who hold direct opposite opinions of yours Pierre ? Guess that’s what makes this site so amusing-i.e. to uncover the degrees of support / rejection that appear among your readers / commentators. Guess we represent the diversity many desire to achieve. Many agreeing to disagree. OFTEN ! Harmony requires consensus building, compromise and reasonableness. Constant agitation, argument and fiery debate is not the recipe for building a higher quality of life , only anxiety,selfishness and separateness. Have you witnessed these behaviors while driving on our local roads?

  50. Joe says:

    If it inspires them to be a surgeon, or inspires them to think that they can run for the presidency, I see nothing wrong here. Maybe they can read this article in the new reading room and decide that they don’t want to be a journalist with an agenda!

  51. Monica says:

    Curious to know whether there are any specifications on the format or content of the materials to be purchased.

  52. Monica says:

    I would like to notify the school board that I am making a donation to open a Barack Obama reading room for print materials at Indian Trails Middle School.

  53. I will be donating to open a Barack Obama reading room for print materials at Indian Trails. Colleen Walsh Conklin

  54. In honor of the retired football coach FPC will get a “Caesar Campana Reading Room”. Sports Illustrated and football books only. Do you folks realize what a can of worms this has opened????

  55. Library Bill of Rights

    The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

    I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

    II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

    III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

    IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

    V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

    VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

    Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

  56. JC says:

    your article is based on your political choice it should be unbiased since that’s what news people should be doing but now when you see the news it’s clear what side they are on

    You are a political hack like the rest

  57. I’ll be reviewing this issue. This is exactly what I was concerned about. It was a workshop. No action was taken. It was for information only and an update for members.

  58. Confidential says:

    What religion has to do with this nonsense of this school board using my costly tax funded school space for the benefit of a conservative candidate. Now we are using our kids to politicize their education too?
    And you few fanatics above church goers of every Sunday, insulting Flaglerlive reporter for making public to us all aware of the shame this school board shenanigans based on a $6,000 bribe, cease and desist apologize and repent! Most of our politicians, have very smelly skeletons in their closets to be good examples for our students, do not further brainwash them.

  59. NortonSmitty says:

    This pandering Tom is now getting rich from the right wing Nazi billionaires to put on a display that the Rethuglicans are not lilly-white racists just like Fiorina is on display to show they are not misogynists.

  60. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    On a more serious note, this is what you get from giving school board members salaries and then making it an elected position. Congrats, you’ve politicized it, and you’ve imported the ridiculousness seen at the state legislative level right into the local one.

  61. Tristam you sound so one way! I don’t agree with Your thoughts!!!!!

  62. Thanks for the heads up Bob because I don’t like what he had to say and that is MY PERSONAL OPINION!

  63. scrub jay says:

    Missing something??? Most schools have a LIBRARY. What next?

  64. Neal Ecker says:

    And next thing you know, Obama will be winning the Nobel Peace Prize!…wait…that happened already I think after he was President for all of 6 months!

  65. uhh.. says:

    Do this… Walk in to OKES and ask any kid (ANY KID) who Ben Carson is. They’ll have no clue. They’re getting some books and some furniture for free. And, to quote yet another Adam Sandler classic, “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket… Who gives a SH*%!”

  66. SadieS says:

    Good Grief! Dr. Carson’s scholarship fund has been around for a very long time, and has created close to 150 Reading Room’s across the nation. It has absolutely nothing to do with politics. Your rant on the subject just shows that you are such a flaming liberal, with such hatred in yourself for anything republican that you would like to harm the children of this county by denying them an excellent opportunity simply because it is funded by a republican.

  67. Ava Marie Gallagher says:

    uhh……you are missing the point here.

  68. Freddy says:

    I agree. He is an inspiration for a child that grows up in the projects and rises to ba a prominent doctor and aspiring to be president in this “not so great anymore” country. A role model despite his prejudices and other beliefs.

  69. Ava Marie Gallagher says:

    If Pierre had not brought this to our attention the board may have gone along with the plan and then you would hear the outbursts.
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

  70. Geezer says:

    Having read and digested some of the bigoted comments towards the editor –
    I can only conclude that the trolls are even dumber than I previously thought.
    On the internet, poltroons (thanks Norton Smitty) are free to express themselves
    by spewing utter stupidity and profound ignorance without consequence.

    It’s ironic how the internet age has contributed to mass bafoonery.
    People were smarter when they were forced to read text off of paper, and actually
    had to turn pages.

    Thank you World-Wide Web.

  71. Hillary Rodham Clinton room will open at Belle Terre and Bernie Sanders room is taken for Matanzas. Just what is the minimum contribution permitted to open a room? Has the policy for collection development been updated to reflect this?

  72. Sherry Epley says:

    Living in the same country as “goodfella”, “FLnative” and “bob” is very disturbing to me and very sad for the future of our culture and country. I cringe to think they just may be my neighbors!

    We should not be naming any part of any “public” entity after the highest bidder. . . no matter who they are! Our “selling out” and worshiping the wealthy is a fundamental and tragic fracturing of the character of Americans. One in which money is prized over honor, ethics, integrity, honesty. The popularity of Donald Trump is another example.

    This debate is a terrible “trickle down” of the same thinking that made bribing politicians legal. . . the “Citizens United” decision of the Supreme Court. A SAD DAY INDEED!

  73. Sheila Zinkerman says:

    Colleen Conklin’s caution to the School Board’s proposal for the Old King Elementary Ben Carson Reading Room should be taken very seriously. The donation will be viewed as politically motivated.

    Furthermore, Ben Carson’s extreme views on evolution; gun safety legislation; separation of church and state; and basic human rights (as stated in Pierre’s well researched article) should be enough to shut down the proposal that would carry with it – not only Ben Carson’s name – but also his tainted, bigoted record on human rights.

    Indeed, a fair and just society is achieved by dismantling fear – not sponsoring it to appeal to voter biases as Carson does on a regular basis: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” Is this fear mongering. religious bigotry and Carson’s disregard for separation of church and state what we want for our children’s future?

    I believe not. Our children will soon grow up. Hopefully they will be schooled in what makes a fair and just society. It is not fear and politicizing a donation that would appeal to a key group of voters in Carson’s Presidential Campaign.

    In fact, when well-schooled elementary school children do grow up they know what makes a fair and just society and they are attending prestigious colleges. Ben Carson has heard from them loud and clear on two separate occasions. They do not tolerate his bigotry:

    1) In March 2013, students at John Hopkins University petitioned that Carson be replaced as the University’s graduation speaker based on the fact that he linked homosexuality to pedophilia on the Hannity show. Carson withdrew from the graduation ceremony.
    2) In 2012 five hundred professors, students and alumni from Emory University wrote a letter expressing concern about Carson’s views on Evolution and Creationism after he stated “by believing we are the product of random acts [evolution,] we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior.” Carson was compelled to “clarify” his statement.

    The School Board should heed the words of James W. Wagner, the eighth President of Emory University. Chiseled on the front gate of the Atlanta campus are his words: “Let us stand by what is good and try to make it better.” Old King Elementary School is a good school. A Ben Carson Reading Room will not make it better.

  74. Susan Young says:

    Thank you, Mr. Tristam, well said and well written.

  75. Knightwatch says:

    Carson is an ignorant ultra-conservative crazie posing as a presidential candidate. He is a science, history and social studies denier who is a truly awful “example” to hold up to children who need a good, complete and factual education to make it in this world. To name a reading room in his name is an affront to science and history and social studies teachers across America. Soon enough, though, he will go back to a well deserved obscurity, and I would hope the school board will have the common sense to correct this egregious error in judgement and name the room after our scholarly president.

  76. My 2 Cents says:

    Monica, I believe politicking on school district time is against school policy!

  77. Joe says:

    So if Dr Carson invented a cure for lets say cancer, some of you wouldn’t take it if you needed it because he is a Republican and running for the presidency? Dr Carson has been donating and helping children for years, we should care less about his race, his gender, what political party he chooses to belong to and so should the non partisan school board. If its going to benefit the kids who really cares, this is silly to say the least and is exactly what is wrong with this country! Grow up and be adults, if this helps 1 kid read better I am all in!!!

  78. Nancy N. says:

    So Freddy, how evil does he have to get before he’s NOT “a role model despite his prejudices and other beliefs”?

    Your statement that he’s a role model because he made something of himself and that makes it ok that he’s prejudiced and holds other bad beliefs just sent the message that “hey, it’s ok to be an evil person as long as you are what society deems to be a ‘success’ at something.” Extending that to other situations, is it ok then for football players to abuse their wives because, hey, they rose up out of the projects to become the best at what they do? Where is the line that takes it from ok, to not ok?

    Holding that kind of moral relativism up as a model for kids is horrifying.

  79. Pierre Tristam says:

    Seeing as some readers are missing my point about the inappropriateness of any political candidate’s charities in public schools, I’ve written an alternative version of this column here: “A Hillary Clinton Playground at Old Kings Elementary: What’s the School Board Smoking?” As always, feel free to attack me personally when you are unable to address the issues raised in the opinion piece.

  80. Sherry E says:

    Excellent comment Shelia Zinkerman!

    Thanks Colleen Conklin. . . we are counting on you to stop this politically motivated BUYING of labels on public places from happening.

    There are many Floridians who have actually “earned” ,through their wonderful deeds and heroism, the honor of having a reading room named after them. They should certainly be considered for such an honor BEFORE ANYONE trying to BUY such a title for political gain.

  81. footballen says:

    I seriously do not see the Issue. The school is getting books and furniture free and a name goes on the wall. Can anyone here tell me (without googling) who Ben Hill Griffin was and what 90,000+ seat arena his name is permanently attached to? Ben Carson is an honest guy that has opinions. He is a Republican, I guess if you lean THAT far left it is offensive that his name be on a reading room at a local elementary school. Would you have Martin Luther King’s name removed because he was not of the same political affiliation as some?

  82. PalmCoastNative says:

    ” The Republican bus-full of crazies favors the clueless” Couldn’t have said it better!!! Love it!!

  83. Jim O says:

    Pierre Tristam – your real colors are showing here. You are a very slanted Liberal rag of a blog that people should understand it for what it is. You are a hater in general… Period. I get it.
    You are stating your opinion…. Right… BS. buddy you have a twisted way of looking at things and from the comments people have posted… You have been called out…
    Get a grip..

  84. Monica says:

    My 2 Cents – never have and never would be so irresponsible as to express personal opinions while doing my job. Retired but not dead yet. . I believe I have the right to express my opinion whenever I wish.

  85. Fredrick says:

    You could have just said it was the wrong time, during and election, and been done with it and I would have agreed with you. But in typical Lib fashion you can’t keep it simple.

  86. Independent Thinker says:

    Dr. Carson spent decades saving the lives of children. He loves people, all people.He grew up in poverty and reading is what turned his life around. So a Ben Carson Reading Room would be spot on! He is not a bigot, just a man with some common sense who is tired of the PC police ( which you seem to be a card carrying member of) running this country. Freedom of speech is still alive and well as long as we say what is politically correct.

  87. c.g. says:

    After recent events and his ignorance and bigotry is becoming blatantly clear, is the school board still going through with this idea and going to brand this man’s name in the school?

  88. Sandra Reynolds says:

    I sure hope not. It is not worth all the money in the world when it comes with such negativity.

  89. Kween Kleokatra says:

    Create a monthly, quarterly or yearly cycle and name the reading room honoring a student (or even group of students) who show exemplary character. We are we always so quick to pander to a well known. Why?
    Honoring one another helps us raise to higher standards and sends the message to students…”I/we are important, NOW!” “I am relative.” This message is a far more superior solution with depth and breadth of purpose, with a far greater impact. Re Focus. Create New Paradigms.

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