School Board should select someone with fresh perspective

Published 7:53 am Saturday, February 7, 2009

We received wise counsel from leaders in our community that we respect a great deal and followed their advice, so I withdrew my name from consideration for the Franklin School Board at great personal sacrifice.

I support my husband, Ellis Crum’s, nomination, and I hope they see the quality of man he is and the expertise he can bring to bear on behalf of our children. His record of service and leadership skills can be of great use to our School Board.

The City Council would do well to select him.

My previous two interviews for this very important at-large position apparently did not give the City Council the confidence that they would make a wise choice in choosing me, despite my service in the community to children and families as indicated in my resume. I provided evidence of my service on three community boards, my proven leadership skills, administrative expertise at executive levels and 20 years of military service at executive levels which would serve our community well as a school board member.

My strengths in these areas would have been of great use in contributing to a team that is committed to securing a good future for our children through quality education and the systems needed to support those who give it, while holding them accountable. We can build a future that will hold great promise and hope and it starts with a quality education that is available to every single child.

Twice, the City Council decided to go with current experience over new perspective and fresh innovation. They decided to choose experience that over 10 years saw a decline in the quality of the education provided to our children-most recently evidenced in our schools’ graduation rate that finished sixth from the bottom in the schools’ report card. Not to mention the painfully obvious absence of Franklin Schools in the Board of Education’s recent salute recognizing both Southampton and Isle of Wight schools for their outstanding progress on standardized test scores. Eight of those 10 years of experience that the council chose saw a decline in the standardized test scores and a testing scandal a few years ago in testing protocols. In 10 years, Franklin has seen three superintendents (paying two of them simultaneously while only getting work from one) when a change in leadership direction was determined to be necessary within months after a new contract was signed.

Major decisions were made that were administratively destructive, costly and academically damning due to lack of support, resources and innovation failures. This is the legacy of 10 years of experience.

For too long the same few have been governing over the many instead of representing the many. The driving force behind their decisions has not been the cries of the citizens; how could it be, they do not even think it their duty to hold ward meetings? What have their decisions for our children’s future been informed by?

Neighbors, we have a unique opportunity at this very critical point in time. We have a unique opportunity to have our voices and concerns and hopes for the future heard. We do not elect School Board officials (perhaps we should), but we can call, stop by and visit, write, attend the City Council meeting this Monday, or e-mail our ward leaders and tell them who you want them to select for this very important responsibility.

Education is the answer to crippling poverty and the vicious cycle it fosters. Education is a key enabler that supports the building of good character and integrity as a partner with parents and spiritual leaders, who are in their homes and places of worship working hard to influence a generation. Education is the answer to a future where our children can be equipped to become valued, committed, well-prepared, contributing citizens in our society. When these young people are released into the sphere of life that they will influence society in, they will recall that education was the key that unlocked the doors of success, independence and fruitfulness.

Education is the catalyst that promotes satisfaction and dignity experienced by hard, honest work done well by a prepared child who grows up to become a prepared adult.

We do not have another 10 years.