Reader responds to Wednesday’s letter
To the editor:
On Wednesday of this week, I read one of the saddest letters to your editor ever.
How sad is it that a board member of the MPCSD would write a letter to the editor—use a public forum like the local newspaper to insult credibility of the staff, minimize results while overlooking facts.
1. “Alleged low morale”
Where have you been, school board? ALLEGED? Our school district staff members (let’s actually include ALL employees) have been under excessive stress since Day 1-August 2013. Day 1—insults and intimidating attacks began by the new superintendent. (How do I know? Two staff members shared their story with me.)
As I asked board members early Fall 2013: if the board hires only one person = superintendent. The superintendent threatens the staff that no one is to speak to the board or they will be insubordinate; the chain of command ends with him. When solutions would have been simple—you told me what I said was merely ‘hearsay’. I asked at least three of you—“if any two of the examples I shared were true—how long as a board member would you want them to continue?” And here we are. Lots of hopes and promises, no management of the one person you hired.
In the school business—why is questioning an annoyance? Why do staff members wear invisible duct tape over their mouths? Imagine the priceless ideas and suggestions LOST because of intimidation. Why is looking openly at options so irritating? When community members attempt to share common sense reasoning, why do you portray them as ‘standing in the way of helping kids?’
Board of education members, I thought, were elected by citizens for the purpose of representing the community, to avoiding too much power to being in the hands of one person (aka superintendent). In our case—the community doesn’t have representation, but the superintendent has a posse who listens to one station—Mike Wells on the FM dial.
2. Insult credibility.
Teachers now have formally told you of their mistreatment, genuine needs—you pass it off as some sort of bad mood. Let me say it—THIS IS NOT ABOUT DRESS CODE AND ATTENDANCE.
HEY—LISTEN UP—There was a 99-3 No Confidence vote of the leadership of the MPCSD. (School board members—might you admit this INCLUDES YOU?)
Why aren’t you looking deeply into the true cause of this disturbing 97% tally? This is a direct communication from YOUR TEACHERS! What happened to LISTENING? Instead of further insults to these great people, why aren’t you admitting where the fault lies? Buy a mirror—maybe up to 8 of them!
3. Minimize results:
The testing scores should be celebrated! Celebrate this with the honest acknowledgement aimed toward those who work the magic, who collaborate effectively, who look students in the eye day in and day out and help them grow. (Despite being in daily personal fear).
The Wednesday writer only referred to one measure, which does not report overall student proficiency. There are multiple measures used to determine academic progress. No one waved a new wand this year. Dutiful persistence over months and years bring about these gradual increases in the data results.
Another overlooked fact—numerous staff members have left the district. As an educator myself, I know the stress of rebuilding the work team. When a staff member leaves--a void, a loss of continuity results. Regardless of the new hire’s talent, a plateau exists; the pace of the team is interrupted. Orientation to district process, data team progress, regaining momentum becomes the task of the remaining team members who now have one more job to do. The board member who stated…if people leave, we’ll just hire someone else…hasn’t spent any time considering the expensive opportunity cost. By the way, no shirt with a collar or pair of approved shoes reduces the stress of a lost colleague.
What a shame. The phrase “for the kids” is tossed around like some sort of ball at recess. How can this reckless confusion be “for the kids”, if you don’t take responsible care of the staff who directly work with those who nurture them?
Personally, I am a teacher. I believe in looking professional and being held accountable. I find students to be some of the most exhilarating people I’ve ever met, seeing their progress is my proud reward. I have experienced what ‘for the kids’ looks like.
The writer on Wednesday asked that people “who want to know what is really going on in our school, attend board meetings or contact Dr. Wells or board members.” If you honestly want to know what is going on in the district---ask a teacher, a para-educator, a lunchroom worker, a bus driver, a maintenance person, an administrative assistant or a long-term substitute.
What clouds the issues the Mt. Pleasant School District is about trust. There isn’t any.
Mrs. Lois J. Roth
Wife, mother, teacher