Don’t kill the messenger
February 25, 2002
I’m the mother of two children in the Aspen Elementary School. As Barb Pitchford, our principal, would say, I’m a member of the “choir.”
I guess you could define “the choir” as those parents who volunteer on a regular basis, spend almost as much time at school as our kids, go on all of the field trips, attend all of the parent advisory meetings and, in general, are very involved at school.
The “choir” came out in force Tuesday night and attended the Aspen School District board meeting. Many concerned, good parents who are involved in our kids’ lives and education came to the board meeting to communicate with the school board, administration and teachers.
We took a couple hours out of our busy day to attend a school board meeting. I feel that we should be applauded.
The school board states that they have been hoping for more dialogue between the parents and the board. The parents saw this board meeting as a forum, an opportunity, to voice our concerns about the direction the school board is heading in regards to our children’s education.
What occurred at that board meeting, in my opinion, did not further communication between the parents and our school administration. The parents who came prepared to speak were met with defensiveness and a “kill the messenger” mentality.
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If the administration did not agree with what was being said, it had to be because the individuals speaking were wrong, didn’t do their homework, were misinterpreting the facts, were uneducated about how to interpret the data.
If our children aren’t doing well in the middle school, it’s because the students are unmotivated, overly hormonal, interested only in the opposite sex, are taking advanced course work only because of pushy parents. I’m sure you get the picture.
I left that board meeting feeling a little bit as though it was an adversarial relationship between the administration and parents when it comes to the middle school. I guess I thought that we all had the same goals for our kids, that of providing the best education and maintaining a respectful community as our primary non-academic goal.
I feel that the middle school principal should sign the better behavior contract that all elementary school parents sign at the beginning of the school year. I felt that he was rude to some of the parents who spoke and that the appropriate way to deal with their concerns would have been to say, “I hear you and would love to sit down with you to answer your concerns and questions. Let’s work together.”
My other concern when I left that meeting was the way that John and Carrie Morgridge were treated. When individuals fund much-needed programs at the schools, it benefits all of our kids. I appreciate the generosity of many individuals who contribute in many different ways at the schools and they all should be commended, listened to and thanked. That’s simply respectful.
I believe that we should all continue to attend the twice-monthly school board meetings. We should continue to speak out and we should be listened to.