I’m writing in response to comments made by a Chetek-Weyerhaeuser school district employee at the school board meeting on Monday, May 24. I wasn’t able to attend the meeting, but I read the summary article in The Chetek Alert.

I signed the open letter to the CWASD administrators and Board of Education asking them to make masks optional at district schools. I am from Atlanta, Ga. I am also an aunt of a C-W student.

My husband and I love our niece and a nephew dearly. We care about their education and about the circumstances at their schools. We have every right to speak on their behalf, especially if we learn that certain policies at their schools are no longer in their best interests. I also welcome the support of anyone, from anywhere, who is willing to fight for what’s best for my niece and nephew. I would do the same for others’ children if I were asked to help them.

However, this employee’s comments suggest she believes that unless someone is a parent in the C-W school district, they shouldn’t be able to influence what happens to students in the district. Even opinions from local citizens and homeschool families—all of whom pay taxes to support the district—don’t seem to merit her consideration as worthy views.

I find this sad, as I think of practices that appall us today that would not have been stopped if outsiders had listened to insiders who said, “Mind your own business.” The people directly affected by existing practices often find it hard to speak against people in power for fear of repercussions. Like-minded outside voices can offer courage, resources, support and perspective. I’m sure this employee’s colleagues and friends who are union members understand this, as union members will often lend support to fellow members in faraway places.

Personally, I am grateful for the outsiders who have stood up for what’s right throughout history to ensure a better future for our children. I am trying to do the same for my niece and nephew by voicing my support for policies that are better for their overall health, education and development. That shouldn’t be criticized or prevented, but celebrated and encouraged.

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