Thursday, May 14, 2015

AM~Erica Apparently Needs Address it Again

So anyway...

Another school year is coming to a close. And we have had to deal with some flighty decisions made by a school district who is trying to hide behind a veil of "care", but many of us see the writing on the wall. A veil that can easily be seen thru if you take a moment to actually look thru it. When the light hits it just right, it's clear.

Last night was one of those times that the veil could be seen thru. And we were reminded how not pretty the face beneath it lies.

So, I'm going to take another moment to lift the veil to speak to those who hide underneath, and I will address those who need addressed in an open letter.


Dear Dr. Herl & the Independence District School Board Members,

The flood of changes that have been made throughout these last couple of years have been mostly baffling. Trying to keep up with decisions made nearly out of the blue are concerning.

Many of these changes made have not shown where the kids have been kept in mind. Instead it appears there is an irresponsible wielding of power going on. It's disheartening & disappointing as a parent watching & witnessing the amount of seemingly unnecessary changes going on way too often.

With the recent levy that passed (by nearly a roughly 60/40% passing - which isn't an overwhelming margin by any means), that was supposed to mean it's supposed to bring in more teachers to help control class size. Which sounds great on the surface. But a couple of types of people got their votes to pass it in who either:

A) don't have direct contact or involvement in the schools, but think they are helping the kids without further information expect blindly listening to those pushing in favor of it,

B) have kids in the district because this is where they went & just want anything that sounds remotely positive to happen to keep the veil pulled over their eyes in hopes the bad stuff isn't really happening so their kids could go thru the same buildings they did.

This combination is your 60%. The other 40% know what's up, or at least can see the problems with the scenario. If the citizen remain & continue to be informed, plus letting more of the 60% know, and then that is true power.

And with that said, every year, with each class of seniors that come thru, there will be a whole new round of those kids turning 18. This means all of them will have the power to vote. This means that they have lived the confusing changes, don't trust the district, and, therefore, will not vote for any moves they deem unworthy of their support.

Just like much of what's taken place over these last two years. Great administrators were chased out because there's a district who thought they were also in real estate. Teachers left after being used as chess pieces within the district for not a lot of good reason. The only reason, really, was to prove the district could move them. More money has been taken from anything that is not sports. As there are students excelling in their non-sports departments, even representing the district & their schools on upwards of a national level, funds keep getting taken away right & left. They seem to be the first with swift, chaotic changes that are happening way too often. They can't get settled in changes made.

In just this last year, alone, we have seen a superintendent abusing power, seemingly with the backing of the school board. But the question becomes whether or not the board really has tabs on the district leader. If you click HERE, I have already been giving examples leading up to this letter. (Please read the link within that link, too, for an even greater understanding of where some of this stems from.)

There are many of us afraid of watching a villain coming forward. Someone who is in it for the power & the title. Someone who is willing to hide behind charity to "prove" right decisions are being made. And there's too many who refuse to speak up about it.

Things are not good here. If you look at Independence school rankings, even in just Missouri, it's embarrassing how far down the list this district is listed. If you look thru any given top high schools or school districts in Missouri, NONE of the Independence schools are even in the top 100. On one of the sites, which I'm trying to remember where we found it, Independence was given a 5 out 10 possible points. Neighboring districts, Blue Springs & Liberty, were given 8 or 9. Embarrassing.

With all of these things going down, and teachers being used as chess pieces, or just watching them leave so they don't get caught up being game pieces, something is already seemingly coming to fruition that I was trying to warn voters of when the levy came out. I went on some rants about how I was concerned with who would be handling the money since there has been no trust built as of late. Supposedly, there was to be a tight look on how the money would be spent & it was going to be monitored closely.

Dr. Herl was supposed to be speaking to a Sunday school class at our church about the levy, before the vote. I was prepped & ready to find him to discuss major issues behind my opinion of the levy & how I felt it was a catch-22. Then I found out he had backed out about 2 day beforehand, and a couple members of the school board would be there instead. I was disappointed, but looked at the situation as an opportunity to be able to approach the board about all of my concerns about the proposed levy & about the superintendent that is more than not-trusted. I was willing to lay out the reasons, too. Then it turned out it wouldn't be school board members, but instead a FORMER board member AND a spouse of a board member! Apparently it was against the rules for those who would be handling the levy money could not make a push for the levy, but send cronies out instead. Ugh.

Well, I still took the opportunity to corner one of the speakers about my concerns. He was not at all aware about what had been going on. Everything I told him was complete news to him. And it was after speaking to a class of know, part of the 60%. The clueless ones hoping to get information, but only listening blindly to what is being fed to them. I am glad a few of them are friends of mine & already had an idea from me as to what is actually happening in the district.

I'm laying all of this out, right now, Dr. Herl & Board, so that you will know where this next piece of information is coming from.

Last night, the Truman HS speech & debate squad had their end-of-the-year awards banquet. It was a lovely evening & we were so proud of the accomplishments of, not only our own child, but those of the whole squad. Seniors were giving their farewells. And it was awesome how they did after the major double-change that was a part of the chaos being dealt with this year.

When you wanted to continue to lift up Van Horn, while continuing to lay great focus on that high school (without a great deal of care for the other two high schools that need your great attention, too),  by doubling up the great speech & debate coaching team at Truman by dividing their time between the two schools, that was enough to hurt our hearts to watch our beloved coaches working with TWO separate squads. Squads that still compete against each other at their tournaments. Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. But I digress....
After this had been decided upon, the competitive drama teacher decided it would be best to leave the district instead, going to a neighboring district and taking her talents with her. It was a bombshell dropped upon the squad and parents. This meant bringing in another coach. Another coach who would be sharing their time between two squads. Double bombshell.

So, a new coach was brought in, much to the dismay of the competitive drama side of the squad. But, thru this year, he proved to be a worthy coach & really helped these kids to make great strides! In a school-year's time the kids were so thankful for him coming on board & being the great coach that he has been. The seniors gave him high praise, even apologizing for emotional attitudes out of early defiance...because they came to love him & couldn't wait to see how he would coach the other squad members in the time to come. Heck, he'd even turned down more money from a another school to stay on with this squad because he saw such great potential in this up & coming group of talented kids!

The squad persevered this past year of sharing coaches AND a new coach, too. And my son has been talking to the new coach to help him with some speaking pointers this coming year to help him excel more...

After the closing remarks from the squad president, then it came time for closing remarks from the debate coach...
As she took her place at the podium, she said that she had typed up what she would be saying so there would be no question about what was about to be said & that it could be made available to anyone who couldn't be there....

Uh-oh...something's up. We braced because whatever was coming wasn't going to be good.

Then, she shared these words:

As a celebratory & fun night of memories, tears, and accomplishments was a wonderful highlight, the sharing of this news made the night take a shocking downward spiral. After the last line was read, there was a stunned silence followed by sobs of sadness. Not only were the seniors experiencing the close of their final squad banquet, but the squad, as a whole, lost a whole lot in one fell swoop. Not only the seniors they've been looking up to, but there would be yet another huge change to deal with as they were just getting their footing.

I'm going to take this back to the passing of the levy vote for a moment:
Just because you have that money coming in now, this doesn't mean you should spend it almost frivolously. This lay out has Mr. Stafford on the way out the door within a few short years. It also is costing the district even more money. What has been proposed by the coaches to be able to keep the initial arrangement, set up for just this year, but to eliminate the travel money, would actually save the district a huge amount of money. Now they want to keep hiring staff that may or may not last. The squad just became OK with the set up after seeing they could still succeed, even sharing their coaches with another squad WHILE getting to know a new coach. And that has been torn away from them again.

Now, I'm going to be clear right now. Mrs. Adams did NOT engage in anymore conversation after reading the letter. She did NOT tell anyone to say anything concerning this. The squad members had already taken to Twitter to voice their disappointment. Several of us parents were discussing our great disappointment. And the answers we wanted were not coming from Mrs. Adams. She read the info she needed to, made the speech available, and that was it. Do NOT put blame on her as we express our great disappointment in the district. This is on you!

This is also a parent reaching out to have you reconsider their proposal. They want the kids to succeed & will do anything, apparently, to invest in the success of the kids. What are you doing about it?

We watch you tear away at relationships with teachers & students, messing with futures, education, and careers. It's disheartening.

After one year of a trial, that was a difficult one to get thru, you have decided to shake things up again. So, are you going to keep making huge changes every single year? Change can be good, once in while. If no one has time to settle with the changes, it is nothing but chaos. And I hurt for the kids having to deal with your actions.

The teachers, staff & students whose lives you are dealing with are people. They are not inanimate objects that can just be moved around & changed at random to "try a new arrangement." They are NOT furniture.

Now, if any of you could have been at that banquet last night in support of these students, outside of sports, you would have seen the wave of pain that fell over that room. There was a great sea of tears with the wailing & gnashing of teeth. And, understandably so.

So, when will you be taking responsibility for actions taken? When are you going to see that swift decisions can ruin lives? As we try to parent our kids about what a bad decision can do to mess up a life forever, you are proving in in vast masses.

With a superintendent who tweets with students while other administrators & educators cannot is just the tip of the irresponsibility iceberg. And things are sinking quickly.

The question now becomes whether or not you will see your actions in a different light. Are your decisions actually helping the students? Are you just doing things for money to look good in the public eye? Are you actually listening to concerns & willing to take action over them? And are your decisions actually for the whole student body, all the activities...or do you just want attention on sports hoping the boosters will just keep giving to that & pretending the district is doing well?

The district is failing. It is failing & falling fast. There is no consistency at all. And this community cannot keep up with the amount of change you are putting thru because you can't make up your minds as to how you can handle the district, the staff, the students as you just keep dollar signs in the forefront.

You cannot hide behind this veil any more. You are being watched. How are you going to handle the veil removal to see what is revealed underneath the pretentiousness?

Ball is in your court, but we are watching. Closely. Are you going to be the hero, or just wait to see if you become the villain? Many of us are concerned it's the latter.

Most Sincerely for the Children,

~Erica Williams
a very concerned parent


With all of that said, I feel the need to put it in open-letter form so that many of you will be informed of things that are actually happening within this district. Those who don't want to believe anything is wrong because your kid isn't seemingly affected. But it affects every child in the district.

If these irrational decisions continue from the top, it's going to bite everyone in every school building, and within the families. You will see a greater rise of homeschooling (which I've already seen happen out of this district, by the way).

If you are ones who refuse to question what is happening, you are part of the problem. If you kissing their hands or hineys, you are part of the problem. Eventually, you will see the brunt of this. Especially if you have kiddos still going thru this district.

So, to those reading this within the Independence School District, who's willing to speak up? Many of you are willing to just speak quietly, but we need to get loud. But in a diplomatic way. Name calling & nasty language will get you no where. But we need to corner these folks on the board and the superintendent to let them know what we think. I'm willing speak to them beyond just what I print. If I wasn't willing to talk to them, then I wouldn't put it out there.

Anyone willing to speak up, too? Or share this open letter? Or write your own?

Email, call, write, get word out. We need to let them know we mean business when it comes to our kids, their education, their futures, as well as the treatment of the educators who are trying to invest in the kids if they are given the chance.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica


*UPDATE* (May 15, 2015)

In amazing news....the board has reconsidered & will now leave the squad alone by allowing the same arrangement as this past year. Not sure if this open letter helped or not, but I do know the squad played a big part in it. Leave it to talented speakers & debaters!

From my understanding, the superintendent wasn't willing to budge...but the board decided to override that. This speaks volumes as to how the district is being run & hope it sends a message for how things should be taken care of in the future.

Change can happen!! This is amazing news!!

1 comment :

  1. "if it aint broke, dont fix it"

    We have seen this pattern before.

    "Things are bad, we must make changes." and then throwing suggestions at the wall to see what sticks. But you don't change the things that ARE working! That makes no sense.

    This is just stuffed shirts avoiding their due diligence and trying to justify their paychecks.

    I would like to suggest that the Superintendent go back and do his homework, gather some facts, open up the budget and see where the money is actually going and THEN try to make an informed decision. Maybe even go to some other schools and see what works for them. You know, educate himself!

    Trying to posture to make yourself look good, at the expense of our students, doesn't impress anybody.

    Doing your job Dr. Herl, would impress everybody.