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From: Subject: Fwd: Taking a Stand Date: March 24, 20 4 !:02:2" #M $DT
Subject: Taking a Stand
Dear #%ains Schoo% fami%&,
' ha(e written a %etter about our su)erintendent and ' wanted &ou fi%% &ou a%% in *incase it costs me an o))ortunit& for a job ne+t &ear,- ' wi%% be sending it a%ong to our S.$/ re) as we%% and m& intention is to share it with the other schoo%s, schoo% committee members, and media out%ets- /gain, ' just wanted to kee) &ou a%% in the %oo)- *'0(e inc%uded it as an attachment, too-,
Best, 1ori 2uerra
/n 3)en 1etter 4egarding the State of our Schoo%s at the .ands of 5ick 6oung
To whom it ma& concern:
M& name is 1ori 2uerra- ' am an educator at #%ains $%ementar& Schoo% in South .ad%e&This is m& second &ear teaching in the district and ' bring with me &ears of e+)erience
from a number of districts in the area, as we%% as in the )ri(ate sector- ' understand that this %etter ma& cost me m& job, knowing what ' now know about the )owers that be, but ' be%ie(e a ca%% to action is necessar&- Maggie 7uhn, an /merican acti(ist, said 8S)eak the truth, e(en if &our (oice shakes-9 M& 8(oice9 is shaking, but m& con(ictions are firm-
This fun:%o(ing, ha))&, chi%d:centered, high%& ;ua%ified ear%& chi%dhood education center fi%%ed with high:;ua%it& educators, )ara)rofessiona%s, s)ecia%ists, office staff, and custodians, a%% %ed b& an e+traordinar&, nationa%%& recogni<ed and honored )rinci)a%, has sad%& seen its co%%ecti(e mora%e )%ummet- =e are so fortunate to ha(e the %eader we ha(e in >i%% F%anders, who %eads with integrit&? %eads b& e+am)%e? is genuine%& in(ested in the students@ and the staff@s we%% being? is a fierce ad(ocate for de(e%o)menta%%& a))ro)riate best )ractice and we%%:rounded education *%oca%%&, regiona%%&, and nationa%%&,? trusts and res)ects her staff? is hands:on, not afraid to get dirt& in the trenches with us? is honest, com)assionate, and knows what matters: )eo)%e- =hen assessing )ossib%e causes, in an informa% sur(e&, for the aforementioned dec%ine in mora%e, the res)onse is o(erwhe%ming: 5ick 6oung ha))ened- =hi%e on the outside, Mr- 6oung a))ears to be an amenab%e %eader who has his em)%o&ees@ and students@ best interests at heart, bridging the ga) between the schoo%s and the surrounding communit&- .owe(er, he is )ro(ing to be ;uite the antithesis- .e cares more about the bottom %ine than the we%%:being of the students and the educators and staff who *are tr&ing their best to, ser(e them-
'n a South .ad%e& /))ro)riations Aommittee and Tri:Board Meeting in March 20 !, Mr6oung boasted the reduction of o(er nine fu%% time em)%o&ees, whi%e sti%% )ro)osing a budget increase of -BC *D!22,"B0,- .e went on to indicate that some of these )ersonne% sa(ings were being used to bo%ster curricu%um needs- This raises a ;uestion: what good is a bo%stered curricu%um when the needs of our students are so high and the ca)acit& to address these needs is stri))ed to be&ond the bare minimum making the curricu%um inaccessib%e to a wide range of %earnersE 'n this current economic c%imate and menta% hea%th crisis )%aguing so man&, one wou%d think the best and %ogica% choice wou%d be choosing )eo)%e o(er bo%stered curricu%um needs- Mr- 6oung instead has re)eated%& ignored the re;uests and recommendations of his staff for more )ersonne% *though he seemed to find it both necessar& and )rudent to add Aentra% 3ffice )ersonne%,- .e a%so ignored ha%f of the district re)resentati(es *a%% from the %ower grades, who were o))osed to the new math curricu%um that cost the district 8a))ro+imate%& D F0,0009 and wi%% continue to cost the schoo% D 0,000 a &ear for the remainder of the B: &ear contract-
Mr- 6oung is not to be trusted- Mr- 6oung is more concerned with image than integrit&.e is not a %eader? he ru%es b& intimidation- .e conducts himse%f in such a manner that he (io%ates the district@s (er& own Bu%%&ing #o%ic&- .is em)%o&ees come to work sick for fear of his interrogating them regarding their absences *contractua%%& sanctioned absences, mind &ou,, or using threatening statements insinuating their )ositions might be at risk as a resu%t- This, of course, is ne(er abo(eboard- .e toes the %ine of, if not (io%ates, the state@s Aonf%ict of 'nterest 1aw- .e )romotes a )%anned ear%& co%%ege )rogram in conjunction on%& with the schoo% where he ser(es as one of the deans- These earned credits, howe(er, ha(e a (er& %imited acce)tance )oo%, but his institution is inc%uded *whereas a %arge %oca% state uni(ersit& is e+c%uded,- Mr- 6oung is current%& in an embatt%ed negotiations )rocess, where some of the items inc%ude hea%th insurance and sick time- Mr- 6oung didn@t seem to ha(e an& )rob%em mandating that the town of his most recent former )%ace of em)%o&ment )a& him D 00,000 for unused (acation time because he had un%imited accrua% of that benefit- .is other benefits and financia% )erks when ser(ing as their su)erintendent inc%uded: an annua% sti)end of D4,000 for o)ting out of the town@s insurance, 0 da&s to conduct )aid consu%ting work or s)eaking engagements, D2,000 ta+:she%tered annuit&, and DB,000 in %onge(it& )a&ments to be taken in each of ! consecuti(e &ears of his choice *as re)orted in the 2a<ette, >anuar& !, 20 4,- This is a )erson whose integrit& and ethica% standards are b%urred and ;uestionab%e-
'n a Schoo% Aommittee meeting he%d in 3ctober 20 !, Mr- 6oung stated that it was c%ear that the district@s s)ecia% needs students do not ha(e as much academic growth as regu%ar education students- /s an educator of students with s)ecia% needs, ' can sa& for certain that there are 'ndi(idua%i<ed $ducation #rograms *'$#s, : %ega%%& binding documents : that are not being met- =hen this is brought to Mr- 6oung@s attention, he )er(erse%& inter)rets the wording, thus )assing off an& res)onsibi%it&, causing the neediest students to fa%% b& the wa&side- 3nce the data shows that those students aren@t )erforming we%%, he hires consu%tants to figure out what cou%d be done different%&- /%% the meanwhi%e maintaining that )ara)rofessiona%s and an& additiona% )ersonne% are unnecessar&- 't was a%so in this same Schoo% Aommittee meeting where Schoo% Aommittee members e+)ressed su))ort for the creati(e ideas and thanked Dr- 6oung for his work and efforts to obtain in)ut from staff- 'f Mr- 6oung does indeed obtain in)ut from staff, it is a rare and wonderfu% occasion when he acts fa(orab%& on that in)ut *such as a))ro(ing a de(e%o)menta%%& a))ro)riate %iterac& )rogram, a stark contrast to the math curricu%um, for e+am)%e,-
1ast%&, ' in(ite Mr- 6oung and an& of the Schoo% Aommittee members to s)end time in our c%assrooms- '@m not ta%king about a fi(e:minute wa%kthrough with a judgmenta% %ens, %ooking for )%aces to cut, but as an o)en:minded obser(er- $ducation in this countr& has changed and, conse;uent%&, so ha(e the c%assrooms in our wonderfu% schoo%s- =e are facing a menta% hea%th crisis, made e(ident b& the count%ess incidents of horrific (io%ence across the countr&, and the man& breakdowns e+)erienced regu%ar%& throughout the schoo% da& b& the &oungest members of our educationa% communit&- =ith the increased )ressures of data:dri(en standardi<ed tests, 8time on %earning9, and the numerous initiati(es, we are %osing sight of what matters: the true education of &oung minds- =e need to teach our chi%dren how to think, not what to think- =e need to scaffo%d instruction to guide them to new disco(eries and faci%itate meaningfu% interactions with their en(ironment, inc%uding rich discussions with the )eo)%e around them, not hand them worksheets and te+tbooks that on%& the e%ite few can access, e+)ecting them to be ;uiet and stationar& as we hammer out instruction to the who%e grou)- =e need to see each chi%d@s indi(idua% strengths to figure out the best wa& to meet their needs, not read out of a manua% so e(er& chi%d is on the same )age a%% da& e(er&da&- =e need to be a))ea%ing to a%% eight inte%%igences founded b& 2arner@s theor& *(isua%Gs)atia%, (erba%G%inguistic, %ogica%Gmathematica%, bodi%&Gkinesthetic, musica%, inter)ersona%, intra)ersona%, and natura%ist,- =e need to be doing a%% of this whi%e nurturing and de(e%o)ing the socia%: emotiona% as)ects of these &oung, mo%dab%e, teachab%e, (u%nerab%e human beings in an en(ironment that fosters res)ect for differences as we%% as other crucia% inter)ersona% and intra)ersona% ski%%s- These are the tenets of ear%& chi%dhood education and )art of the art and craft of teaching H an art form and )rofession that is disa))earing-
#%ains Schoo% is an ear%& chi%dhood education center with high%& ;ua%ified educators- =e need to be afforded the o))ortunit& to do our job and we need to be gi(en the a))ro)riate too%s to do our job effecti(e%&- This wonderfu% schoo% does not need, nor is it a))ro)riate to use, a%% of the same too%s as the other schoo%s- Mr- 6oung@s choices and course of action is ha(ing a )rofound%& ad(erse affect on these students as we%% as the staff- 'n a meeting with the teachers here at #%ains, he debated *and negated, the im)ortance of the socia%:emotiona% we%%:being of chi%dren ages ! &ears to F &ears, then has the audacit& to co:)ub%ish a book *that is a com)i%ation of other )eo)%e@s work, regarding the socia%:emotiona% we%% being of midd%e schoo% students-
Mr- 6oung needs to be a rea% %eader and recogni<e that we ma&, in fact, ha(e more e+)ertise in knowing what our kids need because we are on the front %ines, in the trenches, with them for o(er si+ hours a da&, fi(e da&s a week, one hundred and eight& da&s of the &ear- ' know that )ub%ic image is ;uite weight& in the e&es of Mr- 6oung and
m& intent here *to use one of 5ick@s own oft used )hrases, is to 8)romote trans)arenc&9 b& making that image a bit c%earer-
=ith warmest regards for m& schoo%,
staff, and students of South .ad%e&,
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