Friday, December 12, 2008

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Yesterday's Eden Prairie News and Sun Current featured a commentary by Eden Prairie Schools Superintendent Melissa Krull.

Please read the entire piece here- it's worthwhile.

The commentary ends with this thought.

We, as educators, are not so naive to suppose that no one will be uncomfortable with these actions. In fact, we’re well aware of some who are. I believe it falls on us to welcome those voices to the table and invite them to join us in respectful dialogue. We endeavor to listen to the comments and concerns in our communities in a way that honors our mutual integrity. At the same time, we must hold fast to our convictions, our mandate and our imperative that schools must be positioned and ready to lead the way in “Educating for Success in Our Diverse and Changing World.” We invite all families in our community to join us on our mission as we develop an even stronger educational system. Our collective future depends on it.

"Collective Future"? Okay comrade.

So Krull invites all families to participate in "our mission", but Krull dismisses a petition signed by at least 344 parents in the school district in this week's Sun Current:

Krull said that petitioning is just one way for parents to voice their displeasure with changes the district is making, but it's not the most constructive method."I don't think petitions really carry a lot of weight," Krull said. "I think there are much better ways of making your needs known and getting your voice in the room, and that usually has to do with respectful dialog between people and face to face conversation ...."Petitions have come and gone in this district over the years. My feeling is that if you're interested and willing to sign a petition you might be interested and willing to participate in a change initiative so that your voice can be heard and you can weigh in, knowing full well that you can influence a decision either way."

This statement is so breathtakingly arrogant to me. Ms. Krull your JOB- your highly paid JOB- is to take the concerns of the School Board and parents and implement them into policy. It is not the parents' job- they have JOBS. It's not their job to get on some committee where their feedback can be further stifled. They took the time to put together a petition and gather hundreds of signatures- that is no easy feat. The petition stated that they believe your contract should only be renewed for one year instead of three- the petition is about your failures to communicate properly with parents. So really- your opinion on petitions isn't really necessary in this situation.

And- let me get this straight- petitions are a waste of time and face-to-face conversations are required to really be productive. Yet the Eden Prairie School District has no problem spending money with an Indiana-based marketing firm to conduct a phone survey to measure support for another referendum because that type of non face-to-face feedback is important. (They called me in the early fall for this survey- I have a copy of the survey somewhere. I briefly interviewed the survey-taker and her manager to identify them as an out-of-state telemarketing firm.) That type of feedback (providing answers to highly led questions) is what you're looking for-- not feedback via a petition. Got it.

But the parents who put together the petition did show up at this week's board meeting for some "face-to-face" with the School Board- and what do they get from Democrat Chair Carol Bomben?

Board Chair Carol Bomben told the audience that the board is in negotiations with the superintendent, whose contract runs through June, but that a one-year contract renewal is unlikely.

"This board has confidence in our superintendent," Bomben said. "We will take your petition, but it's the board's job to negotiate with the superintendent to make those decisions."

How's that for respectful dialogue? Sounds like a bunch of "adults" talking to a bunch of "children". Is there anything worse than the "pat on the back" move by elected officials?

Here's what the answer should have been: "We're concerned about this information and the apparent lack of communication you feel is coming from both us and the Administration, you represent a significant percentage of our parents and your feedback is important to us. You present facts here about how you've been treated by our Administration that are troubling. The Administration in this School District works for you- the parents. And as a Board we will be sure to address these issues of communication with Administration and get back to you with what we've determined are solutions."

It seems that Krull is all ears when it's a project that she supports like "Spanish Immersion", but when she disagrees about something like, say- her contract-she makes bold statements about not accepting "business as usual". Side note: I have been a severe critic of the EP Spanish Immersion program since I moved here. It is frivolous and I just recently learned from an EP Schools parent that many are sending their kids there so they can get around attending schools with high non-native English speakers since English proficiency is required to attend the Spanish Immersion program. How's that for irony and using liberal thought to actually avoid diversity?

If you're an Eden Prairie resident and taxpayer- read and sign the petition here so that this Superintendent is hired for only 1 more year-instead of 3. She's been in the district since 1984- perhaps it's "time for a change".

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