How very near-sighted Councilman Neary was! He was too busy “being a reporter” and writing to this group of people telling them how they need to get involved rather than listening to the very people who are involved. I find it very disturbing that he would begin writing right in the middle of their comments session. He wrote: “I am asking each of these parents as they speak–are you going to board meetings? You’ve got pain and frustration in your voice now…but how many meetings are you willing to go to? How many dinners are you willing to skip? How much time with your children will you give up to be involved in the schools?”
How sad that he doesn’t realize that he is preaching to the choir! Every parent who addressed the Council has faithfully done all of those things that he asked. They have attended countless board meetings and given written and oral feedback. On that specific night, Council members heard from a CPSD teacher, 2 individuals who give up a day off every year so that they can give sports physicals to middle school students who cannot afford the price so that they can get cleared for participation in sports, a PTA President, and other individuals who have coached sports, chaperoned field trips and dances and been involved in too many events to list! This is the most dedicated, involved group of parents in the district. The “pain and frustration” that was heard in their voices was because they have been heavily involved in trying to improve the district, yet the School Board does not listen. Sadly, Councilman Neary did not listen actively, either. He failed to understand why they had come to the Council.
I truly hope that the other Council members were actively listening and will try to help. These people earnestly care about the CPSD and the Lakewood community. There was a gentleman (whom I’m unfamiliar with) that commented about the food program in the district. His comments were somewhat all over the board, but one thing that he did say resonated with me: get into the schools and use your own eyes and ears to find out what is really happening in the schools. One high school girl had the courage to address the Council about how her AP class was unable to complete an AP exam because they hadn’t even been given the books to read over the course of the year! That is inexcusable for a year-long course! Talk to the students and teachers. (Perhaps you will hear from the class who recently witnessed the police having to come into their classroom due to a defiant student.)
What has been said over and over to the School Board is that three things are heavily lacking in our district: academic rigor, respect and discipline. Responses to this tends to be that there really aren’t problems, but “isolated incidences”. Poor test scores get blamed on military or low-income families. Stop the excuses, please!
One thing that Mr. Neary was right about was that these are complex issues. The School Board needs to acknowledge that these complex issues exist, and then work together with those who are willing. These are bright, dedicated individuals who should be welcomed to help improve the district and the community.
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