07/12/08 — Serious talk: Schools need your candor — and unwavering resolve

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Serious talk: Schools need your candor — and unwavering resolve

Wayne County Board of Education member John Grantham wanted to make sure no one was offended the other day when he suggested that although the idea of including community members in discussions about the schools’ future was a good idea, the board needed to make sure that something concrete comes out of the discussion.

And in his respectful way, he said something everyone who cares about schools in this county needed to hear.

The first message is for those who love to complain about the conditions in Wayne County’s classrooms, but who never seem to have time to be a part of making the situation better.

It is time to come forward and step up. Come say your piece, listen to the answers and then offer to put your shoulder to the grindstone when it comes to making the system better. Each of the sessions the school board has proposed should be filled to capacity. If the education of our children is truly the top priority in this community, there could be nothing more important to do that evening — even if it means missing a game or postponing some household chore.

That is the call to arms parents, grandparents and those who care about children need to answer.

The same is true for those who have been there all along. You might feel like a broken record repeating the same message over and over again, but your insight is needed again. Come share your views one last time and contribute your expertise to the efforts to fix the problems and to acknowledge the successes.

As for the county commissioners, it is time to listen, really listen, to the concerns this community has when it comes to the schools — and to ask for input on priorities. Right now money is tight everywhere — people get that, but that doesn’t mean most residents think this is an issue that can be solved with a lick and a prayer. Serious work has begun — that is acknowledged. It is up to this county’s leadership to make sure the cooperation and determination to attack this concern continue.

Wayne County School Board members have a job, too. They are going to hear some stuff that might not be easy to hear. They are going to perhaps receive some criticism that might not seem fair in light of how hard so many are working in this county’s schools. It is time to keep a tough skin and to celebrate the achievements and hard work to date and to set a course for even more hard work in the future. This is not a time to sugar coat anything — school performance, parent involvement or anything else that makes a difference in the quality of education local children receive. Speak up and be strong. We need you to keep telling it like it is — not what we — or anyone else — want to hear.

And when the meetings are over, let’s hope that we have not modeled our school system after Durham County, but have created a personality all our own with a roadmap to a future of more success for every student who crosses the threshold of a county school with the taxpayers’ wallets in mind.

So, take Grantham’s advice, which was echoed by board member Pete Gurley as well.

Talk all you want, but at the end of the day, have a plan of action and get busy getting it accomplished.

Published in Editorials on July 12, 2008 11:45 PM