Thank You Teachers Everywhere

 

HCSBoard Seal

So, anyone read anything interesting in the paper today?

In case you missed it, here’s a link to Crystal Bonvillian’s article about the events at the board meeting last Thursday, May 3, 2012.

If you’ve missed my account of the evening, you can read about it here and here.

There are just a few follow up points that I would like to make.

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First, citizen comments are typically placed at the end of the meeting once all the business is completed. For some reason, I’ve been told it was an accident, the citizen comments portion of the meeting was not broadcasted this past Thursday. The last time citizen comments were broadcast was on April 19, 2012. That evening a teacher, who is well known by the board and Dr. Wardynski, Mrs. Pam Hill, stood to speak. She was frustrated at the way teachers had been treated that night.

This was not a typical comment by Mrs. Hill, but I fully understand her frustration. You see the board, last summer, voted to freeze teachers step raises and reduce teachers starting salaries to the state minimum. And yet at the meeting Dr. Wardynski, who was playing round robin with principals again, claimed that principals, and not teachers, would be rewarded for their teachers’ hard work during the year.

The interesting part was how Dr. Wardynski chose to respond to Mrs. Hill.

Here’s the clip.

 

Yes, rather than simply ignore her as he typically ignores me, Dr. Wardynski decided to “caution” her. He said:

Ms. Hill, you’re an employee of Huntsville City Schools. You do not represent Hampton Cove Elementary School. So that was a misrepresentation. Uh number two, you stood there the night I read the specifications against Principal McGhee. Uh, Principal McGhee was relieved for a whole host of reasons that where upheld in court. That had to do with poor leadership, ethical questions. And so we will relieve such leaders, we will relieve such teachers, and so I would caution you when talking to your employers to speak to them as your employers. The Board is your employer.

And that was the last time citizen comments were broadcast via eTV.

After I completed my comments on Thursday (which I began by saying thank you to Dr. Wardynski), I received several texts letting me know that the eTV broadcast had been turned off at the beginning of the citizen comments. Since Dr. Wardynski indicated that he wanted to respond to my comments, I decided to record his response so that I wouldn’t miss anything he had to say. (Normally, I record the broadcasts on TiVo, but since it wasn’t being broadcast that wasn’t possible.)

I was able to record approximately one minute and fifty-seconds of the remaining comments before I was asked to turn off the iPad.

The only reason I was attempting to record the rest of the meeting was because it wasn’t being broadcast.

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Second, I have written to Mrs. Laurie McCaulley to ask for permission to be allowed to record the board meetings in accord with Alabama State Code which states:

“A meeting of a governmental body, except while in executive session, may be openly recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or any other means of sonic, photographic, or video reproduction provided the recording does not disrupt the conduct of the meeting. The governmental body may adopt reasonable rules for the implementation of this section.” Alabama Code Section 36-25A-6.

She has not yet responded to my request.

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Third, I have not as of this writing, heard from any of the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education members in response to the events on Thursday other than the brief conversation that I had with Mrs. Morrison following the meeting. As I wrote on Thursday, I offered her my apology if I had indeed intimidated her. Her response was to laugh at the unnecessary apology.

To date no one on the board has confirmed that I have the right to record the public portion of the board meetings.

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It’s been a busy day on the blog. For any new visitors, I’d like to say thanks for stopping by. I appreciate having the opportunity to be heard. If you have questions, or if you disagree with anything I’ve written here, please take a moment to ask them or raise your issues in the comments.

Alternately, you may email me at geeks@geekpalaver.com. Palaver means holding an in-depth conversation, in case you were wondering.

For all my regular readers: Thank you for taking the time to read my wordy posts. Believe it or not, I do actually trim them down!

Finally, if I may be so bold, I would ask that you remember this one thing:

My being asked to leave the board meeting for recording it is nothing, absolutely nothing, in comparison to the stress and pressure that our teachers, instructional assistants, therapists, staff, custodians, lunch staff, principals, administrators and our kids–especially our kids–have had to face this year, all year without relief.

My being asked to leave is nothing compared to the stress and pressure that our Special Education kids have had to deal with in the face of constant changes to their lives.

If you’ve had an employee of Huntsville City Schools behave in a way that was less supportive than you expected, keep in mind the amount of stress they’ve been under and respond by telling them how much you appreciate their service to our children. It is, after all Teacher (and all our other educators) Appreciation Week.

If you feel a need to do something about the events last Thursday, I would ask that you consider the following:

  1. Thank a Teacher/Educator for her or his dedicated service to our kids.
  2. Call your board member and ask them to make responding to the public a much higher priority than it’s been before.
  3. Continue paying attention to the board meetings. Yes, they’re boring, but the decisions that Dr. Wardynski makes and that the board approves will impact your children’s education for a long time to come. At a minimum, you need to know what those decisions are.
The next board meeting will be on Thursday, May 17th, at 5:30pm at the Merts Center on 200 White Street in Huntsville. The board typically meets on the first and third Thursday of the month. The meetings are also broadcast on eTV (Comcast 17, Knology 99) and streamed on the web at the Huntsville City Schools website, although as we saw this week, that broadcast is not the most reliable way of seeing the entire meeting.
Also, I typically attend every board meeting and live tweet events that seem important to me. You may follow me on twitter  @russwinn. You can follow on Twitter or on the Geek Palaver Facebook Page.
If I could ask just one thing of everyone it would be to let your teachers know how much you appreciate their work. Saying thank you often makes all the difference.
So, thank you teachers (and all those dedicated to education) everywhere.

 

 
Russell
"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.

9 Comments

  1. Citizens Comments are at the end of the meetings because they hope parents will get frustrated and leave.

    Citizens comments are three minutes because they don’t want to hear from tax payers, which is why they don’t have to respond in public, forcing parents to waste time and gas coming down to voice their complaints.

    Citizens can’t give their time or a portion of their time to another citizen because they don’t want to hear from citizens. Which is why there is no grievance policy against the board of education.

    It’s time for a change.

    Citizens comments should get the same amount of time as presentations, board comments.

    Citizens should be allowed to ask questions.

    The Board should be required to answer questions.

    They work for us. We don’t work for them.

  2. I have thoroughly kept up with Mr. Winn’s narration of the ongoing issues dealing with the Huntsville City School Board and System. I would like to take this time to address my opinion on Dr. W and the so called representatives of the school board. This game of Russian Roulette they play dealing with the lives of our special children has gone beyond ridiculous to disgusting. While we deal with the hardships of just raising these special kids, the school board and Dr. W apparently spend time trying to figure out ways to impede their ability to learn or even cope with being in a classroom. These plans are trickling down from the head office directly to the schools. They obviously do not want our children there. I cannot believe the ongoing behavior to undermine or even cease Mr. Winn’s efforts to improve the life of his child and other children experiencing the disease called Autism. I, myself, have so many other issues occurring in my life that it is hard to comprehend that people that are supposed to help me raise my children (since they have them more of the day than I do) are trying to cut money for their education plans in order to hire more “assistants” to Dr. W so that he can do even somewhat of what we hired him for. That to me is like not buying bread for your kids so you can keep HBO on your television. How enlightened your priorities must be Dr. W. To date, I have written Dr. W twice over different issues that I was concerned about. How many responses have I received….none. I seem to not be one of the people Dr. W feels responsible to answer to. My theory entails this: With the odds of now 1 in 88 of a child having autism, eventually each and every one of those so called educators will have a family member with autism. I wonder if they would treat their loved one in such a fashion as this. These odds will continue to rise as the causes of autism increase. We all have our suspicions on what causes it; but like childhood cancer, will they ever take the time or resources to change the future of our children or our country. That is a debate left for another day. In the meantime, we must continue to wonder what other surprises these people have around the corner for the small lives they were put there to protect. I suggest we all go to the polls as their terms end and elect them out. I actually stopped myself from really describing what I think of them as this is intended to be an eloquent opinion. Until we do this, be prepared to endure more of what you have received this school year in the next. I think we need a true representative of special needs elected to the board. That person should be one of us. I cannot say that I am up to par in education, experience, or behind the scenes agendas to do this; but, I know I would do a hell of a lot more than these selfish gluttons’ have done thus far. I am currently disabled, have a 9 year old that has had a brain tumor for the last two years, and a husband out of work. I do not know about the rest of you, but I have enough peas on my plate than adding more of this backstabbing, underhanded, manipulative manure to it. It is said that what we reap, so shall we sow. I just wonder how well each and every one of these people sleep when they lay their so called educated heads on their pillows at night. I am tired of this ongoing genocidal abuse they keep dishing out. Guess what dear board; we are watching. We are paying attention. Though we may not be striking hard enough now to make a change; the time is coming. I just hope this opinion doesn’t seem too “intimidating.” Go ahead and step over what little rights we still have. Just remember that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

    1. “This game of Russian Roulette they play dealing with the lives of our special children has gone beyond ridiculous to disgusting. While we deal with the hardships of just raising these special kids, the school board and Dr. W apparently spend time trying to figure out ways to impede their ability to learn or even cope with being in a classroom”

      So now that we know, what are WE going to do about it? And please don’t say vote them out of office at the next election because by then the damage will have been done.

  3. Saw the HSV Times article Russell. Hate the way you’re being treated in the board meetings…..just plain stupid. Ironic that the person who is responsible for preventing intimidation and disruption what the very same person who created intimidation and disruption!

    1. Al Langford is just following orders bonehead2. The board has documented history of intimidation and retaliation against parents who speak out. If they are doing this to tax payers we can only imagine what they are doing to teachers, principals and support personnel.

  4. Good blog. Hopefully the Times article giving the URL will increase visitors here. That’s the way I found the way. Keep stoking the fire. The “General” will eventually step on his string.

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