Letter to the Editor: TPS needs less talk and more actionWritten by Administrator | | firstname.lastname@example.org
TO THE EDITOR,
I read with interest the July 5 opinion of TPS Board Member Darlene Fisher (“It’s time to put the public back into public schools”), in which she enlightened the reader about what she thinks it takes to make the Toledo Public School system relevant in today’s educational environment. It is commendable to find a TPS board member communicating with the public through Toledo Free Press, and both should be commended for getting the word out.
What I find ironic and, frankly, embarrassing for her and the board, is she admits she authored these same philosophies in 2005, and yet here it is 2009, which means in four years she has been preaching the same elements for success while admitting nothing has been accomplished to effect meaningful change.
Her revelations are nothing new nor are they innovative. They have been written about for decades, so her assessment is just a repetitive act of wiping the dust off ignored actions on a “to-do” list. When is the TPS board going to analyze its weaknesses and take action to change and improve itself instead of just talking about it?
An educational system, be it a public, private or community, is a business. It creates itself and its mission, advertises to the public to increase patronage and delivers results to its customer base. In the event the customer base is not satisfied with the results, it will go elsewhere for the services it seeks. No longer do tax dollars mean TPS has an exclusive right to the money: now parents have a choice of where to spend those dollars to effectively meet the educational needs of their children. Combined with increased competition from private and community schools and an eroding population/student enrollment base, TPS has no time to lose, and must make some definitive changes to make itself more relevant. To do otherwise conjures the image of Nero playing the violin while Rome burns. Fisher states she wants “adequate time for decision making”, but truthfully that time has come and gone. The time for action is now.
How will this pattern of inaction be reversed to clear the path for significant improvement and success? A thorough examination of its policies and relationships is needed, with a significant overhaul which is long overdue.
Of immediate need for attention is an examination of the student’s needs before all else. This may mean an invigorated partnership with the teacher’s union contract. I am not advocating a reduction in benefits nor am I demeaning the importance of the most critical and important aspects of the school system, for teachers are the backbone of the system.
But to avoid this examination continues allowing the cart to lead the horse.
There are schools in Northwest Ohio that boast state-administered testing scores in which more than 90 percent of the students pass. Not surprisingly, these same schools boast graduation rates of 90 to 100 percent. The teachers are happy; the students are happy, and their respective Boards and teachers are constantly attentive to the needs of the parents and the educational needs of the students. So success for TPS is not unreachable, it just takes some new directions in the administration of services. This is your opportunity to change the future of thousands of students. It is both a daunting and amazingly rewarding task that you can accomplish if you put your mind to it.
Darlene Fisher’s guest column reminds me of two famous quotations. The first is “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.” The second is that “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
Fisher has (again) provided a blueprint for success in the same manner that has not yielded positive results. In a sense, she has provided her 1 percent of inspiration.
It will be interesting to see when or if the board and all stakeholders will tackle the other 99 percent and decide to make the changes needed to improve the system and the educational benefits provided to the students within the Toledo Public School system.
TOM BROOKS, Maumee