Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Resolutions and Me

A reporter asked me today, why I voted against the resolutions. I assume if a reporter had a question about it, the public might as well. Below is my response.

It would be best to access the meeting board minutes when this occurred for an understanding of why the board as a whole voted against the resolutions. I believe it was September or October 2004. I am not the chairman, so I cannot speak for the entire board. However, I do have my personal reasons for the vote, and I will be happy to share them with you.

One of the main reasons I voted to withdraw several of the resolutions is because we had multiple resolutions recognizing a select few job categories in our system. The list of those job categories receiving recognition was much shorter than the list that did not receive recognition. One of our resolutions was American Education Week. The contributions of ALL the system's employees were recognized. One group was not deemed more important than another. I thought it unfair to specifically go above and beyond the American Education Week resolution and pick out some jobs as worthy of recognition while the vast majority go unnoticed. I most certainly understand and well appreciate the contribution secretaries, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers (those whose resolutions were discontinued) make to the overall system. However, we also have electricians, accountants, lawyers, janitors, painters, personnel specialists, telephone operators, computer specialists, occupational therapists, librarians, nurses, and curriculum writers, to name a few, that also contribute significantly to our system and the students. Is a bus driver more worthy of special praise than the janitor that warms and sanitizes the building, the accountant that keeps accurate records and maintains the flow of funds, or the computer specialists that fix the hundreds of computer glitches on a daily basis? Perhaps some people are happy with empty, unsupported words on paper. But, to recognize each and every job category would be an extremely time-consuming task and would impede our ability to conduct board business. We only meet once or twice a month. In other words, we would spend so much time handing out resolutions, we would have precious little time left to conduct business.

Secondly, every year many Americans make resolutions on New Year's Day. They are often stated as new actions one will undertake in order to improve one's life and the lives of those around him. I see our board resolutions in the same light. WHAT specifically will we/have we done recently that will/has improved the lot of our students and employees? We can say we appreciate people all we want, but what do we actually do on a day to day basis or in a new initiative that will prove our words accurate. In my opinion, our resolutions were symbolism over substance. And, in my opinion, that's not the way to conduct business. Hence, my vote to eliminate certain resolutions.

While these resolutions may appear to be innocuous, I contend that that they are divisive and nothing more than a pacifier to those who are seeking a pat on the back. They thwart the efforts of those who are working for true change, not just a fancy piece of paper with empty promises. It's a pacifier. I am not one to pacify or patronize someone with a piece of paper if there is no substance behind it. We say we appreciate bus drivers, but when was the last time they were given a raise? We say we appreciate Fine and Performing arts, but why is there never enough money in the budget for arts? We say we value young children, but why do we take their recess away? We say we value our secretaries, but what NEW initiatives have we taken to make their jobs easier; how are they treated on a daily basis and not just Hallmark's Secretary Day? We say we value Women's History month, but when are historical contributions of women addressed outside of the month of March? We say we value nutrition in our schools, but have we as a board taken the initiative to reduce the amount of transfats in the cafeteria foods; are we serving fresh fruits and vegetables and high quality protein in our schools, or are our children served highly processed canned fruit cocktail, donuts, pizza, and Captain Crunch? Our students and employees deserve more substance and less symbolism. The more they are pacified with mere symbolism, the less likely they will be to receive the substance they deserve. The pacifier stops the whining. I was elected to make changes.


Anonymous said...

Good for you Jennifer. I agree with everything you said. I wish you had been on the Board when my son was in school!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the thoughtful consideration AND the explanation, Jennifer.
I wonder if other members of the Board might consider doing some of the same thing - I think it would go a very long way in fostering better communication with the public.
I'd like to add that I've felt this way about certain other types of pandering such as Black History Month. If African-Americans were properly represented in the usual historical contexts, there'd be no need for it.

Heather Brooks said...

I nearly stood up and cheered!


Anonymous said...

The stuff about nutrition/school food is totally right.

Thanks so much for bringing it up - it's all true, I've seen what qualifies as a lunch in CCPS.

LegalBeaglette said...

I, too, appreciate that you shared your views on this. Minutes for board sessions aren't available on BoardDocs for 2004, so it's a bit difficult for someone new to the system to know the history.