Top-rated education system vital to community

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, May 23, 2012

To the Editor:

Councilman Don Blythe (“Time to make Franklin schools accountable,” May 20) and The Tidewater News publisher Steve Stewart (A community crisis,” May 20) seriously indicted the Franklin school system last week.

Indeed, the councilman clearly put into words what appears to be the public perception of how our education system works. This does not condemn every teacher and every student. Certainly most excel, but many, for a variety of reasons, do not.

I am not an educator and cannot give easy solutions, but there are some things most of us understand.

First, as was quoted in The Tidewater News, the idea that teachers should have low morale is ludicrous, especially coming from a high official in school administration. In every institution I can imagine, be it military, manufacturing, or education, high morale must be encouraged. That is a duty of effective management.

Secondly, we hear of a malaise in the system. Malaise begins at the top of an organization and trickles down, not the reverse.

We hear of the low percentile level of many entering kindergarten students, meaning most, maybe three-quarters of entering kindergarten children statewide score higher than many Franklin children.

Does that permit failure in the system, or does it call for innovation? Is Franklin the only system with that challenge? And if not, and others are more successful, what are they doing that we are not.

Low morale in production can be traced to management. Failure in production calls for action, not excuses.

Franklin has too many fine teachers and young people to be an educational abyss. Are we working toward an elected school board?

One shining effort lies in the excellent programs of Smart Beginnings, working with parents and caregivers who have not had educational advantages, and preparing children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

If you have not learned of their work, and I had not until recently, you should. It is incredibly important for our future, and they deserve the support of every citizen who loves this community.

Franklin has many attributes, but a school system that shortchanges our young people is not one of them.

For economic development, a top-rated educational system, including our already excellent community college, is vital.

Can it be fixed? Not the way we are going, I believe.

Joe Stutts