Thursday, January 6, 2005

Letters to the Editor

Disappointed with paper:
Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my disappointment with the news article that ran as the top story on December 23, 2004. I understand that the paper should publish reports of the proceedings of different board meetings around town, but I thought its placement as the most important story of the week was a mistake.

First of all, the article gives credence to a group of people whose claims to have “500 signatures” on a petition have no proof. Glen Bridgforth, Dr. W.A. McMillan and the rest of the group have yet to produce their petition to the school board, and so their demands that the leadership be changed as part of a public mandate have no foundation. The school board has never authorized a public opinion survey on the leadership of the school district, nor has it received any bona fide data on an independent one. It seems to me that if the board wanted a public opinion poll taken, they would ask for it. As it stands, the board has only praised the leadership of the district for the district’s accomplishments.

Second, the article fails to identify the connections of some of the leaders of the group, as a good news story should. While most people might recognize Rev. Jeffries being the brother-in-law of former principal Willette Jeffries, still others may not. It just seems like good reporting would have clarified the relationships among the players in this scenario so that underlying agendas and motivations would be obvious to all.

Finally, running a lead story about a group who has a really negative view of the district leaders only reinforces the long-standing, though false, impression that there is nothing good in the Holly Springs School District. Our schools are full of students, teachers and administrators doing incredible things every day. Of course, improvements can always be made, but the district has shown improvement in test scores over the past four years, we have more students than ever taking the ACT, and our extracurricular groups (such as choir, basketball, and JROTC) shine at all levels of competition.

We have a lot of good going on here, and for the paper to lead off with what amounts to a lot of hot air from a disgruntled few is disappointing. The Holly Springs School District should be recognized statewide for its efforts and accomplishments, not for its detractors.

Sincerely,
Judy Smith, Superintendent

Positive feeling about schools:
Dear Editor,

I was present at the December 14 school board meeting at which the Concered Parents’ Association (CPA) presented a resolution calling for the non-renewal of several administrators’ contracts for the upcoming year to the board. The CPA did not give any survey or petition to the school board for them to see. They only said that they had signatures. The school board wisely took no action on the demands of this group. This needs to be emphasized.

All the schools in the district went through the accreditation process this year with SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a national organization). Part of that was an opinion survey about the schools that was given to parents, students, teachers, and community members. I filled one out myself. This opinion data is available for anyone to see, and was presented at the meeting on December 14. These surveys showed a positive feeling from the community and parents about the schools. Clearly, this refutes the CPA’s claims that a large portion of the community disagrees with the direction the schools are taking.

I participated and was interviewed by the SACS team which was made up of professionals from outside the district. Their professional opinions about the school resulted in all the schools receiving accreditation for another five years.

If the serious problems that the CPA describes actually existed, it makes sense that this professional SACS group would have discovered them. They found no problems with the school leadership.

As a parent, I would much rather see an organization try to improve the schools from the inside by being involved at the schools rather than criticize them wrongly from the outside. They should become PTA members, volunteer at the schools, and attend school functions regularly. I have attended forums about the current state of funding for the public schools, for example, and I have not seen any of these individuals present at these meetings. The district even sponsored a meeting for community ministers to provide information and ask for support, and only four community ministers showed up.

I would hope that all journalists would have learned from CBS’s mistake, and would have gotten the whole story before printing a biased article like this one.

Sincerely,
Alfred Moore


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