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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why York County Schools Are For Sale

Why are York County Schools For Sale? Well, not literally, but when county legislators vote to take money away from public education, they are. You'd be mistaken if you think it is because of Howard Rich or the legislators who take money from Mr. Rich and his groups. If every District Administrator or Building Principal or School Board member would look into a mirror, they'd see who is putting the For Sale sign out.

How can this be? These are the folks who are putting in long hours with little to no pay. How can they be responsible? Well, first, don't confuse activity with accomplishment and second, the world has changed and these folks have been slow to change with it.

The largest employer in York County is the public school system.  When our staff, bus drivers, operations folks, and teachers feel good about their employment, everyone else will feel good about the schools. Who do you think people go to for the real scoop? It's not administrators and school board members. School employees should be treated like professionals. There should be transparency with decisions affecting their work and their input should be included in those decisions. And, lets be clear, I'm not talking about email. Our employees are our most valuable resource in many more ways than in the classroom.

School boards have policies that do not pass the public saneness test.  In some cases, we have thrown common sense out the window  with zero tolerance policies. Our punishments, established a long time ago, are often not perceived as punishment by today's students. Half the boys in my high school would not have graduated if they had been held to today's discipline standards.

The world has changed. Right after World War II, 4 out of 5 voters had a connection to their local school - either with a relative going or working there. When we surveyed registered voters for our last bond referendum, less than 30% of the voters had that same connection. They only know about schools by what they watch on the 24 hour news shows. We know very little of that is positive - but it should be. Because we are doing wonderful things in our schools. How many schools actively partner with retirement homes, assisted living centers and churches? How many make arrangements for senior citizens to get in to school events for free or to make sure they are aware of concerts and/or events? And how many actively try to engage neighbors, even if they are not retired or of school age? Our neighbors don't believe we have good community schools because we have kept them in the dark and pushed them away.

The good thing about looking in the mirror, you'll also see the person who is starting to take back public education, one employee, one student, one neighbor at a time.


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