An Open Letter to the Westminster School District
Dear Westminster School District Board members, employees, parents, community members and other interested parties,
I am writing this letter because I think it is time to take back our district. You see, things have gotten out of hand. It seems we have lost our focus. Our entire purpose, the reason we exist at all, is to educate our community’s children. We exist as a means to teach and help guide the youngsters of our local area so that they can have the skills necessary to be moral, functioning members of our society. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a bit about myself so you know where I am coming from.
I first moved to this community in 1988 with 3 small children and a love of learning, teaching and a belief in the power of our public school system. As my children grew, and I became more enlightened about this community and school district, the more impressed I became. You see, this was a place where socio-economic, racial and ethnic groups readily mixed. This was a community that placed high value on educating all children while upholding traditional values. This was a place where my children could grow up getting to know all types of people from all walks of life while being taught the skills they needed for life. And grow up they did. My husband and I eventually added 2 additional children to our family and as our children grew through their early years and into adulthood I became more involved with the Westminster School District first as a parent volunteer, then as a classified employee, and finally as a teacher.
As my association with the district increased so did my pleasure and pride at what I discovered. I discovered a feeling of community and family within the district. I discovered a pride of traditional values, even when it was unpopular. I discovered a place where people lived, worked and raised their children within the community. I discovered a place where it was not uncommon for a former district student to eventually become a district parent, a classified employee, teacher or administrator. I discovered a place where it seemed reasonable to have a superintendent who not only knew everyone’s name, but when and by whom they had been hired. I discovered a place where respect for one another was expected and given freely, at all levels. This is not to say things were perfect. No one, no place and certainly no institution has ever been perfect. But, that was part of the appeal. Everyone seemed to realize this fact, and they understand that errors would be made. However, when the errors were made the problems would be handled in a professional and respectful manner. And, when serious errors were made, they were handled swiftly and appropriately.
Maybe my view of the district at that time was narrow and naïve and things were not quite as ideal as they seemed, however without a doubt things have changed. Schools and offices that once were well populated with those with a long history in this district now seem to have been replaced with a revolving door of new administrators and assistants. Important policy decisions in the past seemed to be based on what is best for the education of our children and upholding the highest moral values. More recent decisions appear to have been made more on a basis of current financial situations, personal agendas, who cries the loudest, political correctness, opinions of lawyers or a fear of “dirty laundry” being exposed to the public. Where once it seemed that most teachers felt like proud and invested members of this district, I now hear many who wish it were easier to transfer their years of service to other districts. Yes, things have changed, and not for the best.
So, this takes us back to where we began. It is time to take our district back. But, who are “we”, and what do we do? I would suggest that for all of us, parents, classified employees, teachers, administrators and school board member to ask ourselves, are we part of the solution? If not, we are part of the problem. If we stand by while decisions are made that are not in the best interest of our children, shame on us. True, there are times that financial concerns have to pre-empt what may otherwise be a good decision. There are times when the one who yells the loudest or has a personal agenda may have a valid concern or point of view that was previously ignored. There are times when political correctness aligns well with high moral values. There are times that lawyers must be consulted to protect our interests, and there are times that airing dirty laundry may be a risk. However, if these concerns take precedence over what is in the best interests of our children or what is morally correct it is problematic.
So, I would like to ask anyone who is reading this letter, “Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem?” I would like to call for all of those who want to be a part of the solution to step forward and say, “Enough!”