The silence is deafening

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One of the saddest facts regarding the most recent revelations pertaining to Franklin’s public schools is that the state’s findings, as they relate to the abject lack of leadership at the highest levels of the system, come as little surprise. In fact, they only serve to validate what many have been critical of for years. Yet while the state reports clearly illustrate the failures of the superintendent, key leaders in the central office and the school board, those in a position to do something about it have, to date, remained virtually silent.

We’re not referring to the parents of children in the schools, nor are we speaking of the taxpayers who fund the school system. Because of the way the school board is selected and, therefore, school employees are hired, parents and taxpayers have little say. Those we are referring to are the members of Franklin’s city council, and the silence coming from city hall is deafening.

City council members are the only people who have any influence, direct or indirect, over the school board. City council appoints the school board and funds their budget. And while council cannot remove a school board member during his or her term nor direct how school funds are to be spent once appropriated, they do have a very powerful tool at their disposal; their voice.

Every single member of city council, both on and off the record, have indicated that education and our public schools are one of their primary concerns. Yet based upon their actions, or at the very least their lack of public comment or criticism over the schools’ performance, one could easily be led to believe that council approves of what is transpiring with regard to the school system.

We don’t believe that to be true. But what we do believe is that someone in the city who is in a position of civic authority needs to at least speak out about what is happening with our schools. If leadership will not come from the school board or the superintendent, it needs to come from city council. Because if no one acts soon, our leadership will ultimately come from the state school board in Richmond.