Public Outcry for Public Schools

Gilbert School bus

I hate politics.  I fade out when they come up in discussion or I leave if possible.  I definitely find another place to be when Brad is listening to the political pundits on TV.  (I just looked up the word pundit.  I thought it meant someone who likes to hash things over, but my computer dictionary says that “pundit” means “expert.” Well, there you go.  I am definitely not a pundit.)  I can’t hold up my end when politics get shoved into conversation and I try to talk about other things.  Politics are depressing to me.  They always seem to make someone angry or unhappy.

So….I should totally avoid the subject that I am compelled to write about right now, but I’d like to get out some of my feelings before November 4th when an important election is happening in my beloved town of Gilbert.  It’s the School Board election.  The whole talk of School Boards is a gloomy subject to me.  Since I live with Mr. Public Education, I have heard lots about school boards through the years even though my first instinct is to put my fingers in my ears while loudly shouting “la, la, la, la, la” and pretend that School Boards are made up of intelligent, calm, easy to get along with, get-out-of-your-way-and-let-you-do-your-job people.  They used to be.  At least the School Boards and School Administrators I was acquainted with used to be.  They worked together to make Gilbert Public Schools one of the finest districts in the nation.  It was where you wanted your kids to go to school.  It was where you wanted to work.  There was a congenial feeling.  People got along.

Something happened.   Some of the problem has been going on for a long time.   School Boards were set up to develop policy and the School Administration was organized to administer that policy.  The School Board’s job is to tell the Administration what they want to have happen.  The job of the Administration is to decide how to make those things happen.  The School Board is the what.  The Administration is the how. The School System works best when each tend to their own roles.  The Administration does not need to be micro-managed by School Board members.  No one likes to be micro-managed.  A while ago a candidate for the School Board said that she planned on being a thorn in the side of the Administration.  Why would you ever choose to be a thorn?  And who could ever accomplish anything worthwhile with a nasty thorn pricking away at one’s side?

Here are some things I have gathered on a variety of occasions before I could get out of the way of the political ping-ponging that has punctuated nearly every casual gathering of friends and fellow Gilbertites.   Citizens are concerned about our once fabulous school district.

I’m just going to write down concerns I’ve heard or had myself.  You are welcome to rebut them if you can do it kindly and without animosity.  We are all entitled to our opinions, right?

—The atmosphere in the district is toxic.  That toxicity has been caused by a School Board that is difficult to work with and seems to enjoy drama.

—Many beloved teachers and administrators have quit.

—False accusations have been flying, causing some of the best educators in the state to go to other districts.

—Some wonderful leaders have been hurt, possibly irrevocably.

—One of our dearest friends and an accomplished administrator was told by her doctor to quit her job because it was badly affecting her health.  Others had to get out before their health, too,  was threatened.

—A very amiable and highly credentialed educator outside the district was asked to be on the committee to choose another Superintendent.  He had to quit the post, stating that this board was impossible to work with.

—It has been said that a member of this School Board personally went door knocking to encourage citizens to vote against the School Bond Override which would provide for more teachers and smaller classroom sizes. A School Board member who was for Public Education would never do that.

—This School Board seems to favor Charter Schools. Why would someone run for a Public School Board if he didn’t believe in Public Schools??????

Which brings up some questions about Charter Schools:

—Charter Schools are sprouting up everywhere!  Where do they get their funding?  Is that money that has been taken away from Public Schools?

—Is it true that anyone can start a Charter School and that those who start Charter Schools get to keep the buildings that have been funded by the state?

—Is it true that Charter Schools don’t have to follow the same rules as do the Public Schools—such as employing accredited teachers?

—Is it true that some of our state politicians profit from Charter Schools and therefore make laws to favor them?

—Has this diverted money to Charter Schools raised the academics of our students in general?

—Good Public Schools are vital for a healthy community.

—When the Public School system deteriorates, how can it help but take down our community with it?

—A fear is that schools will again become segregated, leaving only those with Special Needs— who are not provided for at Charter Schools—and the underprivileged—whose parents can’t drive them to Charter Schools— to attend Public Schools.

—All should feel that their educational needs are being met, but the vast number of Charter Schools has fragmented not only State Educational funds but the emotional support and camaraderie of our community.

—So many have worked so hard and for so long to create an educational system where all can learn and grow together.  We cannot allow a divisive School Board that doesn’t even believe in Public Education to ruin our great School District.

Get out and vote on November 4th.  Let’s elect a compassionate, intelligent School Board that is pleasant to work with.  Above all, let’s elect members that have a passion for Public Education and are capable of creating a workable strategic plan. They also must have the wisdom to choose capable leaders and the faith in those leaders to allow them to carry out the plan without the nitpicking and micromanaging of the School Board.


19 comments on “Public Outcry for Public Schools

  1. AMEN. I’d like to copy your work and insert the name of my school district. — It’s hard when teachers feel their jobs are threatened at every turn.

  2. nancy Proffitt says:

    That was WONDERFUL ~ thank you!!!

  3. Thanks, Nancy. Hope I’ll have some friends left. Many of them are very connected to Charter Schools!

  4. M. Anderson says:

    You said it beautifully!! I’m with you regarding politics, I applaud anyone who wants to be involved in politics, I just wish they would all want to be nice about it! I’m so saddened by what I see happening to the district.

  5. Kerry Nelson says:

    Well said Liz. Thank you for sharing.

  6. This says it all. Everyone should be concerned about the demise of public education. While other countries are educating not only through the high school level, but through college, we are destroying education all together. I don’t live in Gilbert, but I do have grandchildren who attend the schools there, and I am truly concerned for them. Shame on Gilbert Board of Education for hijacking the educations of all children for the sake of some.

  7. Caroline Lamoreaux says:

    Liz, you are DEFINITELY still our friends!! You have said what I have been thinking for SO long. I just wish more people would educate themselves about our state’s education. I regret it took me too long to educate myself!

  8. Amy says:

    I was a teacher at a public high school for two years, and I am definately sympathetic to the plight of teachers and I do see a lot of merit in public education. However, I am from Houston Texas, a place with no charter schools, and students are required by law to attend the school they are assigned to by the government because of where they live. All you have to do is visit north Houston schools to see what a huge disaster that has become. People literally fleeing neighborhoods to get away from the schools. It is creating a large area of devalued property and bad, terrible, schools, and deserted once thriving communities. People just keep moving further and further away. I am glad Gilbert has charter schools and school choice so we don’t feel compelled to move because of a school. That being said, a beligerent school board is not okay either. Let’s just not go too overboard either direction.

  9. Well said! Unfortunately the afore mentioned rumour of a board member knocking on door to door to convince all to vote against the budget override is true. I interviewed her and she personally told me she’d been doing that. I truly hope we replace them with people who care about public education

  10. hlpiercy says:

    My daughter sent me a link to your post with the comment, “I feel like you could have written this…”.
    And she’s right! You have succinctly and profoundly expressed my feelings.
    As a paraprofessional working in another school district I am dismayed to see the continued lack of support for public education. Yes, parents need educational choices but shouldn’t we continue to fund and support a healthy public school system as one of those choices?
    Your words and feelings are valid and essential. Thank-you for writing them down and posting them for a larger audience.

  11. jack bob says:

    Charter schools wouldnt be taking money away from public schools if parents felt their kids were gettting a proper education from the public schools. U hit the nail on head….public schools have become politics, they are run by politicians not educators…no matter their credentials. Your article puts less faith in the publics schools although i think u inteneded the opposite. For every kids that takes public funds to a charter, that is 1 less kid to pay for at the public school so it should not affect them, if a charter school can do it with the same or less money then it proves the inefficiency of the public system and will hopefully cause the politicians running them to do a better job. Charter schools have to prove thier worth to earn their students or they will not make money. Public schools just keep going no matter how good or bad they are performing, we need competition to keep everyone at the top of their game producing the best results possible.

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