This is a longer version of an article that I posted earlier on my blog -- hence I think the link to the old article isn't working (since it has been updated): http://gazettenet.com/2010/07/23/chairman-resigns-amherst-school-panel-citing-divisions-lack-team. It has been a long day - including spending basically from 2 to 10 pm with my SC colleagues - so this will be brief. I would like to congratulate Rick Hood on his selection as Chair of the Regional SC, and I look forward to working with Rick in the months ahead (I was also re-elected as Vice Chair of the Regional SC). I believe we had a productive retreat today, followed by a productive Regional SC meeting, and I hope we can re-new our focus at the regional level on education and district goals.
I'm disappointed, and frankly puzzled, by Farshid's decision to specifically criticize me and Steve in this article -- it is hard for me to reconcile his decision to resign in order to bring about new collegiality while criticizing two Amherst members in the process. I worked with Farshid very well for the vast majority of his time as Chair (throughout which I was vice chair), and considered him a friend -- thus I am also disappointed that he would choose to make these remarks in the press in light of the considerable positive work that he and I did together throughout much of the last year (basically throughout Alberto's superintendency).
In terms of Farshid's accusations, I'll make two brief points. First, I continue to be saddened by the interpretation that saying "we could be better" and "let's live up to our potential" (which both Steve and I do say relentlessly) as denouncing and hammering and fomenting dissent, which I think is a deliberate misinterpretation about our comments (but an effective way of trying to silence our concerns). Second, I certainly agree that I've been impatient with the process of change in our district as well as the tendency to simply stick with the status quo (I seem to not be the only one concerned about staying with the status quo, based on the enrollment drops we are seeing at both Amherst and Regional levels), and if "power politics" is setting policy that is supported at a public meeting by a majority of the SC (such as our new evaluation policy, our Spanish language program, the addition of preschool for low income kids, or the recommendation that the HS have fewer study halls), then I'm guilty as charged.
Finally, I appreciate Irv Rhodes' thoughtful comments in this article, and believe the considerable positive efforts we've made at the Amherst elementary level (which of course includes both me and Steve) are due in part to Irv's leadership on this committee (which is why I supported him as Regional Chair). Encouragingly, every expectation I have of Rick Hood's approach to leadership is one of collaboration, inclusion, and a focus on goals -- NOT personalities/rumors/motives. I am newly optimistic that we can make great progress in helping our regional schools reach their true potential -- of being excellent for every child, every day (not just in words and slogans, but in the reality all kids experience in these schools). It is an exciting time for the Amherst and Regional schools and I feel fortuate to have both Irv Rhodes and Rick Hood leading these two committees.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.