Because of all the events occurring in the last several months concerning the education of children in the Delta County School District, I now feel compelled to express my thoughts in a public forum.
Due to the rules of the game, I offer now a disclaimer by acknowledging I am married to a teacher in the district.
The comments given are mine alone. What we have had recently is a revolution based on how and what to teach our children. Teachers, staff and parents will no longer accept what they feel are dictatorial terms from the school board and district office staff. They desire real input to proposed policies and that this input be honestly evaluated before a new policy is mandated.
The players are all the same, in general terms, which have always been present. What is different now is the willingness of the teachers, staff and parents to be outspoken in their views. I will not spend any time trying to differentiate why this difference in outspokenness has occurred. It is merely a fact that must be acknowledged and I for one laud the boldness of it.
Here are some facts that I believe have influenced the power struggle going on in our district:
1. There was a deep unrest among the people of the district concerning the policies of previous school boards and district office personnel.
2. Given the opportunity for change, voters installed some new school board members.
3. Having to confront a school board with different ideological goals, the superintendent of the school district quit before his term was up. An interim superintendent who apparently does not seek a long term job with the district was hired.
4. District office personnel are feeling the pressure of state and local mandates for conforming to standards of achievement and decide to use a standardized curriculum throughout the district to do so.
5. Disgruntlement between teachers, staff and parents on the one hand and district office and school board personnel on the other is based on teachers being forced to change curriculums that have proven to be highly successful in meeting the government mandated standards.
6. Because of the uncompromising nature of the school board and district office personnel, including the interim superintendent, in responding to the concerns expressed by parents, teachers and school administrators, valuable teachers, assistant principals and principals may be leaving the district at the end of the year and seeking employment elsewhere.
I believe the proposals by state and federal authorities during the last few years to heighten the educational standards of children in the United States are a misguided attempt to do so and will only result in a backlash of recrimination against teachers. It is a sad state of affairs that people who actually do care about children's education are being forced to find fault with each other instead of where the fault actually lies.
This all leaves me with things I would like to express to the various factions of the revolution:
The school board — The board's reputation in the past has not exactly been stellar. "Rubber stamp" is a term that may have been justifiably used often. Please be sure to examine your reasons for agreeing with administrative proposals and policies.
Parents in the district — If you do not believe members of the school board you voted for are actually representing your views, recall of those members is an acceptable start to find someone who will. You do not have to put up with someone until the next election. Nor do you have to quit voicing your comments and concerns.
District office staff — What you do will affect the education of our children for years to come. History has shown that standardization may not be the key you look for and may result in a society of narrowness and non-achievement. More can be learned from diversity. Seek your answers in methods that may be more difficult to achieve but are more satisfying for what you really wish to accomplish.
Teachers and staff choosing to leave the district because of this conflagration — You will be sorely missed. I hope you will be replaced by others with your courage and conviction.
Teachers and staff remaining in the district — This struggle is only over if you let it be. Never fear veiled or open threats of recrimination for expressing your views.
Some attempt at compromise in this matter has occurred. I can only hope it is not merely the political gesture that is all too readily given and accomplishes nothing.
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