Open Thoughts to the Board of Education

According to an article appearing in the local newspapers the Greenfield Board of Education will meet at 5:30 pm in the board meeting room . The purpose of the meeting is to hear the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate the employment of  long-term cheerleader advisor, Patty Shelton. My wife and I are planning to attend the meeting and hope to see a large number of area residents also in attendance. I intend to ask permission to address the board prior to any decision but just incase such isn’t permitted I am publishing this list of notes I would like considered and discussed in open session before any decision is made.

NOTES ON TRAIL OF TEARS

November 4, 2016

1. The controversy that gave rise to this meeting has nothing to do with an act of malice. It is a result of innocent ignorance on the part of both the adviser and the cheerleaders.

2. The underlying factors are many and don’t exclude the leadership and staff of Greenfield Schools. What programs have you in place that teach sensitivity, empathy, and tolerance for America’s diversity?

3. From the beginning I, and many others, have seen this as being an opportunity to educate and not as an opportunity to lay blame and go head hunting.

4. If you want to single out an individual consider first that I, as a former history teacher, can construct an American History test on which a number of your teachers and administrators would do poorly. So let’s begin with such an exam if it’s a witch hunt you’re after.

5. Where the buck stops is also something that maybe needs discussing. Ultimately is this the responsibility of someone far down the chain of command, who has served the student body well for a long time, and probably at little more than minimum wage? Or, is this the place where the main man stands up and falls on the sword?

6. Reading from the newspaper the principal’s solution is to provide a day or two of Trail of Tears education to the student body. While this is good isn’t it a little too late? Plus, what about all the other events of American History that are similar to the Trail of Tears of which no mention has been made. Do we do something about preparing students for those now, or do we wait until somebody screws up again?

7. For the cheerleaders the news release mentioned they have had a meeting with the cheerleaders at Hillsboro High School, they are going to have some sort of sit down breakfast, and they are going to visit Seip and Serpent Mounds. What is to be gained from these visits? These are paleo sites where Native Americans lived long before the arrival of European explorers and settlers. Nothing happened at these places that has any relationship to the core of our problem, which is the violent clashes between Native peoples and European settlers. I would suggest the students would be better served given an opportunity to listen to and speak with living Native-Americans and hear first hand what their lives have been and still are.

8. So, in the end the board has to make a decision. Are you going to fire a dedicated employee to create the illusion that the problem has been solved. Or, are you going to use this as a teachable moment for all involved? One approach is to cover your butts. The other is to do what schools are supposed to do, educate.

One thought on “Open Thoughts to the Board of Education”

  1. I believe this was a mistake that not only the students involved has learned from, but many others like myself that really had no idea what the term “trail of tears” really stood for, with that being said, I don’t believe that the school board trying to make one person pay for this mistake by being terminated is the answer! Patty Shelton has been devoted to her position as the cheerleading advisor for many years and has spent countless hours with the cheerleaders and other students teaching them what school spirit is all about, just as she had done during the years of representing our Alma Matre during her high school years! Terminating Patty Shelton as the cheerleading advisor would be a great injustice! Just wrong!

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