2-9-1996 Attacking Superintendent Myles in the Newsletter

It is important that we respond to our superintendent's most recent "state of the district" message. It is important to be upbeat and positive but Mark Myles went too far when he thanked employees for their perseverance during the last decade and the School Board for its "vision." We haven't seen that much undeserved boasting, misinformation and just plain rubbish in print on one page since Reg Nolin presented his- Strategic Plan.

Another perspective is that this School Board has cheated this community, cheated our, students, and cheated its employees. This. school district cut $4 million from the general fund to pay for debt reduction and another $4 million from its levy., A normal school district would have been able to provide $8 million more in educational services. 'That is over $600 more for every student in every classroom this year.

It is about time for people to wake, up., There is reason to be upset. We cannot "put recent history aside:"' It is impossible "to focus all our energy on student learning, student achievement and preparing students for their lives in the 21st century" because "the initiatives prov to increase learning and achievement" require more resources--yes more money.

In November we had 250 classrooms at 30. students or more at East High School alone. If it were a saloon, it would have been closed for fire code occupancy violations long ago.

Summer school enrichment and remediation programs are virtually non-existent.

Students are charged $50 each time they participate in any sport, class play, musical, or even the math team.

We cannot account for the $1.3 million designated by the state to help reduce elementary class sizes to 17:1 in Kindergarten, first, and second grades. We have. first and second grades at or near 30 students all over town.

Do you know a child who could benefit from a smaller class size, an enrichment program, a summer school program, or an extra-curricular experience?

Teachers do not deserve to be thanked for their perseverance. They persevered when they should have revolted. They persevered when their class sizes became unmanageable and a student with borderline learning difficulties began struggling even more. They persevered when they should have contacted parents and blown the whistle on bad learning situations. They. persevered when their salaries fell to nearly 20% less than comparable districts. They persevered even though their retirement benefits will also be 20% lower than teachers in comparable districts.

The legacy of this. community is its children. They, are. entrusted to our schools every day. We cannot com- , promise the quality of their education in any, way.. This is an adult world. If we are going to provide quality programs for these children, then we must be prepared. to fight for these children in this adult world. Anything less than equal opportunity is unacceptable. If being an educator or an advocate for the education of our chit: dren requires that some adult toes get stepped on then' that is what we must do. It is not enough to persevere.

Jim Melander.