Thursday, October 10, 2013

Divisive plan is divisive

This is an email I sent to the board tonight in response to the email sent by a parent from the Mann attendance area that I wrote about here.

Dear Directors and Superintendent Murley,

I was forwarded a copy of the email [a district parent] recently sent to the board. I am the person who said that I had yet to hear of anyone in the Mann neighborhood who wanted to dramatically increase the number of kids the school would hold, and now I can no longer say that. But although [that parent] asserts that many others agree with her, neither I nor the district has any way to know whether her opinions are representative of people in that neighborhood and attendance area. I wonder whether the district has any plan to assess how Mann’s families and neighbors feel about enlarging that building to hold 76% more kids.

I notice that [the parent] is a teacher at City High. I want all of our teachers to be able to speak their minds freely on school issues. I do wonder, though, if teachers who don’t agree with the closure of Hoover would feel as comfortable expressing their opinions openly. From what I hear about the teachers at Hoover, the answer is no. I wish that were not the case.

In her email, [the parent] wrote that “it is imperative for individuals not to attack other schools.” I’m puzzled by that comment. If a Hoover parent argues that we should keep all the schools open and cut back on additions, that’s an attack, but if Mann or City High parents argue that Hoover should be closed so their schools can have new additions, that’s not? I think it’s a better idea not to see substantive arguments about the merits of the long-term plan as attacks on anyone.

In any event, if families at different schools feel that they have been pitted against each other, it is because of the board’s choices. The board had the option of keeping its existing schools open and planning its new construction accordingly. That was the option that the public supported at the community workshops. Instead, it has divided the district against itself at a time when it’s about to embark on even more controversial decisions. I believe that an approach that is more responsive to public input would better serve the district.

My letter in reply to [the parent] is here.

Thanks for your consideration.


Anonymous said...

Yawn. More of the same. I hope you teach your children not to be manipulative bullies who abuse and try to intimidate people if they don't get what they want, but probably not, based on you behavior.

Chris said...

Anonymous -- When I hear the same old name-calling in lieu of any substantive argument, I always assume that you have no substantive argument to make. I'd be happy to be proven wrong about that; feel free to make one if you have one.

In the meantime, I'd love to know your definition of "bullying," which seems to include making any arguments that you disagree with. Interesting lesson for the kids.

Karen W said...

It is unfortunate to characterize free speech about public institutions as manipulative, abusive, or intimidating.

Participating in public discourse is not for the faint of heart or those possessing particularly thin skin, but that's no reason that other people shouldn't participate if they want to. The more the merrier and all that.