05/05/09 — Chairman: Comments are hurting progress

View Archive

Chairman: Comments are hurting progress

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 5, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County Board of Education Chairman George Moye said at the board's meeting Monday that he is tired of a "one-man wrecking crew" tearing down the reputation of the county's public schools, and took to task the elected official he refused to name.

When it came time for board comment at session's end, Moye read from a prepared statement, describing himself a "very frustrated citizen" as well as member of the elected body responsible for the school system.

"I am the sole author of the following comments, so I am the message and the messenger," he said.

Moye would not say at whom his comments were directed.

"There is no need to attack any of my fellow board members, since they are not responsible for my frustrations, even though they probably all are in 100 percent agreement," Moye said, adding that if someone had a problem with his remarks that they should see him individually.

He said that last year a group of elected officials and area businessmen met several times a week to discuss solutions for schools. The group was comprised of three county commissioners, three school board members and several business and industry leaders from around the county.

During the discussions, the issue of public perception of the schools became a point of interest, he said, and all seemed in agreement that it is too frequently a negative one based on "sensationalism."

The school system has been harshly criticized over the years, and Moye recalled being told by an area businessman that the situation was not unique.

"'Every school system has the same problems, but the difference is here in Wayne County we constantly criticize our schools to the media instead of working for improvement and building them up,'" Moye said he was told. "That comment was 15 to 20 years ago and is true today more than any time I can remember. Because today we have an elected official -- please note I used singular not plural -- who is carrying the banner of a 'one-man wrecking crew.' This is meant to be, and is, destructive, demeaning and takes imagination."

Moye said he sees nothing positive in the person's actions or antics. In fact, he said, it "lowers public perception of our good school system."

"How can we ever get over this?" he asked. "As long as an elected official's apparent goal is destruction of our school system and frequently tries to tear down and lower the perceptions of our schools, how does anyone expect Wayne County to progress?"

The comments spread beyond the county's boundaries, Moye said. People considering moving to Wayne might have second thoughts if their perception of the educational system is negative.

"What does that say about our schools and quality of life and our elected officials?" he asked. "Given a choice, many people will choose elsewhere to live, work and play. What about economic development? Would you locate your company here after reading all the negative comments about our schools by an elected official? Probably not."

Remedial and remediation are other phrases that have been bandied about by "Mr. Wrecking Crew," Moye said. And while the concept might be worthwhile, he suggested the subject of his remarks "start with yourself."

"Find out the facts before you speak to Wayne County and the world in your attempt to wreck the school system," he said. "Some people believe your uninformed comments so get some remedial help; get the facts so they can believe the truth. Wayne County government is facing problems, just as all counties have budgetary problems in 2009. Weren't you elected to and aren't you charged with helping look after county business? Can't you find something to do relative to your elected responsibility? Tearing down our school system is not, I do not believe, your responsibility."

Wayne has a good school system, Moye continued -- not perfect, but making "enormous strides." And certainly, he said, public perception will further deteriorate if it is the focus of constant criticism by someone in a position of power, someone who can spread his criticism easily through the media.

"Please dismantle and focus your attention to what you were elected to do, i.e., county government," Moye said. "I won't try to run county government if you won't try to run the school system."