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I read with great interest the article "Kentucky School Boards A Century of Local Leadership", which appeared in the Wednesday, January 16, 2008, edition of the Sentinel-News. I found it surprising to learn that our school boards have been in existence for 100 years. However, I found the comments from some of our board members even more surprising.
Specifically, I was shocked to read Mr. Mathis (14 years on the board) and Mr. Phillips (19 years on the board) highlight their greatest accomplishments as: "all-day kindergarten, building West Middle and Painted Stone campuses" (for Mr. Mathis); and "nurturing plans to buy land for the high school Agriculture Department and bringing the ROTC program to the high school" (for Mr. Phillips).
Is it all about buildings? What about educational objectives for our children? What about bringing more qualified and talented teachers into our classrooms? What about integrating new technology into our children's classrooms? What about developing initiatives to increase student test scores?
Where are your priorities, Mr. Mathis and Mr. Phillips?
Shouldn't our school board members be outlining and developing long-term educational direction for our county? It's not only about the buildings! It's all about what's going on inside those buildings. Yes, I agree, because of your prior poor judgement in anticipating county growth, we are under the gun to get schools built and diminish overcrowding. However, the simple fact that neither of you mentioned anything about student achievement, quality teachers and classroom learning in your statements is shocking.
And finally, Mr. Mathis, your condescending comments regarding the Hispanic population in our community bordered on prejudice. ("The Hispanics need to accept that having come here that English is the language.") These children are children. They attend our schools and are learning English. Our schools teach English! You need to accept that as a board member, you represent all of the students attending Shelby County Public Schools -- not just a select few.
I hope you both (Mr. Mathis and Mr. Phillips) will rethink your priorities and your statements in the future.