Consider a situation that a long time teacher in the GPS district had to say at a board meeting and has repeated several times since. Glen Frakes, a beloved instructor of World History for decades related the following:
Imagine a day when all school administrators failed to show up for work. Imagine the administrative offices empty. No principals, no secretaries, no file clerks, and no non-teaching personnel. Imagine that somehow only teachers and students showed up for class. What then? What would happen??? Would the world end? Would education cease to happen? NO!!! Certainly not. Teaching would still take place, education would still happen, and what is normal daily routine of learning would keep on trucking without hardly missing a beat.
With this in mind… it’s easy to see what the priorities SHOULD BE in education. It becomes easy to understand what needs to be funded first, and where focus for quality and efficiency should be. So, why is it that quality of education at GPS has been so good? It’s a symbiotic relationship between good families with good parents and students who want to learn and good teachers who are able to motivate, inspire and teach what is important. Everything else is fluff. Everything else is extra… Is the teaching staff at GPS really all that much better than neighboring districts? Perhaps. But what about the students and families? Are they more dedicated and supportive of students and want for them a quality education and help support the school system to provide it? ABSOLUTELY!
The NOISE regarding the GPS School Board has been well deserved in many instances. But, what of it? People should understand what they are likely to get from current candidates, and what they have received thus far from those currently in office.
How have WE benefited? If you’re in favor of increased transparency not just fiscally, but with respect to behaviour, culture, exposure of “good ‘ol boy” issues, and even the fact that criminal activity has taken place at the highest levels of administration and a stop has been put to it… then three of five board members deserve your thanks. Is it true that board meetings have gone from 40-60 mins in times past to well past midnight with marathon meetings lasting 5 hours or more? Yes. Is that ridiculous? Yes. Is it necessary? Unfortunately… Yes.
In less than 4 years (realistically, less than two), the majority of school board members have managed to:
- Change multiple policies that in the least have:
- Removed the power and authority of the Gilbert Teacher’s Union as a special interest, making each and every teacher in GPS subject to the same policies and equal treatment.
- Made school campuses safer
- Increased district staff accountability for campus safety
- Removed High-ranking district officials who have:
- Supported District monies to be used in legislative activities such as paying over $50K per year for a lobbyist
- worked to undermine public opinion/support by strategizing how to push an override and increase revenues over cost cutting and expense management (Still an issue w/ the new Superintendent)
- Abused special-ed policies and finances leaving several families without proper services
- destroyed evidence protected by court order
- abused district funds by targeting specific families/students who “the district” felt were troublesome and paid them off to “go away”.
- abused district authority to threaten/intimidate/and coerce low-level staff and teachers to “toe the line” or be fired.
- abused ARS-511 regarding campaign laws by using public resources to influence the outcome of an election.
2 board members have been obstructionists at every turn when ridding the district of malfeasance, fraud, criminal activity, and abuse of authority issues have come up for discussion. Lily Tram and Jill Humphreys have quite an abstructionist voting record of supporting the old regime in cover-up, voting against teacher raises, supporting administration raises, and doing their part as good “rubber stamp” doobies for the administration. Jill Humphreys tries to call herself conservative… abusing the term as well as the intelligence of those who have ever spent any time at a school board meeting. There’s never been a tax increase she hasn’t favored. There’s never been a program expansion or administrative growth decision she’s not been in favor of. In fact, she’s gone on record over and over again in open meeting that “we need to trust the professionals and leave the decisions to them” suggesting that parents and the public at large are either totally ignorant, or uninterested in how things are run within the district. It’s like the scene from the “Wizard of Oz” suggesting to the public that they “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, the great and powerful Oz has spoken!”
May every voter take some time to consider what they REALLY want in a school board.
If you are in favor of:
- increased transparency and disclosure
- a safer environment with increased quality of education
- a better work environment for teachers and district staff
- an innovative and creative educational workforce
- continued excellence and opportunity for every student
- a board representing the views of parents and students over bureaucratic administration
Then you should stronging consider voting for Ron Bellus and Dawn Brimhall for GPS School board 2014.