At the August 18th meeting, I commented about a lack of communication between the school system and the community. Tonight, I'm sharing an example that highlights this problem. I want to be clear that this is not about me personally. I am obviously informed. My concern is for the knowledge and involvement of the community.
On the 18th, more
than one person recommended I speak to my PTO regarding my concern to
keep the community informed on and involved in educational matters.
September 2nd, McMahon PTO president Jodi Wolverton sent
an email about the redistricting committee. I immediately asked if
this information was coming home with students to reach all families.
She said, no, 400 contacts and the Sun Journal was satisfactory.
When I pressed further, she claimed it would take an hour and half to
make and distribute the copies, and asked if I was volunteering to do
it? I said yes, and she forwarded the information to Mr Hood. When
I spoke with Mr Hood today, he said the expense of making copies was
not worthwhile when the money could be spent on educational
September 5th, my
daughter brought home two notices about fund raising from the PTO,
but no information on redistricting at all has been distributed in a
fashion that would reach all families, and not just from PTO, but
from part of the school system. When I contacted Ms Wolverton about
neglecting the redistricting information in favor of fund raising
information, she was fiercely adamant that the PTO's function is not
to ensure the full communication with the community on such matters.
The school committee cannot rely on the PTO, at least at McMahon, to
inform all parents about issues not on the PTO's agenda. They
deferred to what was convenient because using their contacts to reach
parents on such matters was a favor, not an obligation.
My husband said, “But isn't
McMahon getting its fair representation? And Mr Webster said in his
email to you that he would try an automated call in the future?”
Yes, this is true, and I am
very happy about those facts. But, in his email to me, Mr Webster
also implied that I need not be so concerned because McMahon won't be
affected. Whether McMahon is affected or not is a moot point.
It is not the job of the
school committee, superintendent, PTO or principal to tell any family
what information is pertinent to that family. Each family should be
fully informed, and then given real opportunity to share input.
Then, those elected and hired to make decisions for the city should
do so. No one's role as a community member is skipped because of
convenience or what some else decides is important to or affects that
The school committee
determined that two representatives from each elementary school were
necessary to avoid repeating past mistakes. So, those
representatives should be properly chosen. The pool of candidates
should be all parents, who were informed and given proper time to
volunteer. Conversation at the August 18th meeting
stressed that the right person be chosen for this job, but filling
most of the spots a week before the deadline to volunteer seems to
My husband agreed with these
points, but still said, “Honey, what is the purpose of making a
complaint when what's done is done?” He was worried that I would
sound negative, contrary, vindictive for not getting my way.
The purpose is to hope for a
better course of action in the future. The first step in the
redistricting process did not instil good faith for transparency in
this or future actions. If the system cannot figure out how to
inform the community properly on the forming of a simple committee,
then how are citizens being informed about more complicated and
controversial matters such as curriculum, high stakes testing, or
school and teacher evaluations? I am not blaming any one part of the
system, but some part needs to take communication on as its
responsibility. My husband and I both agree that entity holding the
contact information for families and in direct contact with students
would be the best candidate.