Support Franklin schools

Published 11:32 am Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sometimes it seems like every other edition of The Tidewater News you pick up, there’s another story about the failings of the Franklin City Public School Board and central office administration.

Now, people have speculated all kinds of reasoning behind this, but one thing for sure is not because we want to see the school system fail. It’s quite the opposite. We want to see the school system succeed.

Way back in August, when we originally requested the information from the academic-level review from the state, it was because we believed the board was keeping its contents from the public. They got the document in April, and while they did discuss it in private meetings, it was never mentioned publicly. We thought the public had the right to know.

And from there, reporting has simply been focused on what the Virginia Board of Education has said. We thought the public should know that, too. We thought it was an important topic, and that people should be talking about it.

You see, what we ultimately want is to have people talking about it and then taking action, so that Franklin schools will get better. We live here, too, and we know how important the school system is in creating a strong community.

State board members believe there needs to be a radical change in the way things are done in the system to get it back on track. Based on months of questioning, one member fears that Franklin board members didn’t have the will to change drastically. That’s important because if we as a community believe that there needs to be a radical change, we need to challenge the board and central office and also hold them to it.

We can go on forever about how we got into this mess, and that is important – the people responsible should be held accountable for their actions. Actions that have cost our youth, based on the data.

But more important now is what VBOE representative Joan E. Wodiska said. She challenged the board to go to Franklin citizens, rather than simply inviting them, and emphasized that the community would be the backbone in turning things around.

Wodiska has a background in school boards and knows the importance of the relationship between the schools and the public and stakeholders.

We agree that the board could do more to reach out to the community, and we also believe that they will. When they do, it is also our hope that they have a receptive audience. An audience that is willing to do what is needed to get the Franklin school system back to accreditation, back to where it was years ago, and then even better.

When the school board tells you how you can help, we hope you’ll listen. We hope you’ll be there when the city asks appointees to represent the school board. When public input is needed at school board meetings, we hope you will be there. And we hope Franklin takes ownership of the problem and corrects it.

If the school board fails, it will be because of inaction in this community. We challenge you to do better, because this community will not reach its potential without a quality educational system. We cannot continue letting our children get left behind.