Letter to the Editor: Observations from recall committee

Dear Editor:
With our apologies to all who have signed our Meeker School District recall petitions aimed at the school board leadership—the three longest serving members who are the board officers—we announce that we have not collected enough signatures for last week’s deadline.

Through the process, however, we have identified a number of interesting sociological factors and community attitudes.
Most of the people contacted by petition circulators said they agreed with the intent of the recall (to better our Meeker schools and correct certain deficiencies), but were reluctant to sign. Rationale for not signing included one or more of the following: 1. Didn’t want their names to appear on a public list, fearing adverse effect on their business or retaliation from an employer; 2. Personal ties or institutional ties to the designated board members; 3. Fear of retribution on one or more of their kids in the school system; 4. Just don’t like recalls. Didn’t want to be involved; 5. Didn’t have kids in the schools, so they didn’t know or really care what was going on; 6. The school board has already received a serious message from the community through the defeat of the mill-levy increase in November’s election; and 7. Why bother? It’s a lost cause.
That’s the politics of a small town, where everyone knows everyone and it’s hard to disagree publicly with friends and neighbors.
It is clear, however, that there remains considerable frustration with the Meeker School District. People have lost confidence in district leadership.
We discovered too late in our efforts that the younger, 20 and 30 year-old demographics were much more eager to sign, being closer to the situation (it’s their schools, their previous teachers and the future of their town being harmed) plus they just didn’t have the “hang-ups” of so many older adults.
So far, the board shows little or no sign of changing its ways. We will continue to work for what we believe our schools need, including: Respect for the highly trained teachers we have along with the authority to manage their own classrooms; Recruiting of similarly well-trained, qualified teachers when necessary; Instruction directed toward the particular needs and goals of students; An administration that seeks the advice of its professional teaching staff and welcomes discussion; Education practice based on valid scientific learning and development research; Basic discipline in the student population; and Good judgment in allocation of district funds and more thorough transparency in financial reports.
These needs are distinct from what we have now, including: An administration that micro-manages classroom instruction and applies a “test and punish” approach to education; Too many high stakes standardized tests that take away too much time from learning; A board and administration that deliberately and consistently suppress open debate; Education policy driven by inappropriate business [corporate testing] models of management; Allocation of funds to pet projects and to projects that are unnecessarily expensive or unneeded; and Retaliation toward teachers and employees who ask hard questions and challenge the administration.
We who prepared and circulated the recall petitions hope the community will continue to press for better leadership in the schools. We hope that parents, especially, will be more willing to speak out, contact board members and attend board meetings to voice concerns, propose remedies and offer praise when due.
George Henderson
Concerned Citizens of the Meeker
School Board Recall Committee