To State Superintendent Tony Evers:
Mr. Superintendent, this letter is being sent to you, as well as our other elected representatives, on behalf of concerned parents of children attending Goodland Elementary School in Racine. Goodland was identified as a “Priority School” by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction. Apparently DPI has established a policy of making dramatic changes to schools deemed as such, and we as parents feel blindsided by this chain of events.
First of all, we as parents were not consulted by DPI as to our perceptions of Goodland’s performance as it concerns the teaching of our children. It seems that based on aggregate standardized test scores our school was simply caught up in a dragnet cast out by bureaucrats in Madison. In any event, we were not spoken to by anyone. The decision to label Goodland as a “priority school,” a seemingly friendly euphemism for “failing,” was made elsewhere.
Secondly, our input into this process is/was cursory at best. If Goodland is not functioning well enough for its students, then we as parents should have been involved in the very conception of any plan to improve educational outcomes for the students (our children). How dare some third party impose 300 additional hours of classroom instruction per year on young children without discussing the matter with parents first! This single element of DPI’s plan is certain to have very serious repercussions for the children, families and faculty of our school. Among other issues we may wonder about the developmental impact of 300 additional hours of sedentary activity for young children, the burnout of faculty and the potential inconvenience to families. Some parents would rather see their children spend these 300 hours at home, in religious instruction, in athletic training, in Boy/Girl Scouts or even in unstructured play.
Perhaps the parents of Goodland students would have had better ideas for how to spend several hundred thousand dollars toward the betterment of instruction; rather than on a “lead turnaround partner.” Maybe the parents would have chosen different school reform initiatives than those we were informed about at a meeting hosted by DPI and our local school district. One may never know as we have been kept largely in the dark until now.
Lastly, some fear that these measures may discourage and even scuttle the staff at Goodland. Many teachers are beloved by their students, and viewed as strongly effective by parents. What will they think of all this? Will they simply look for greener pastures?
A dramatic change in staff may have a detrimental effect on instruction and morale throughout the building. What sort of staff will be eager to work at a school, with such additional demands and negative stigma, if staff members do indeed leave?
We look forward to your response(s). Any letter or email sent in reply to this letter will be shared with the other Goodland parents.
Jeff Longsine is a parent of a Goodland Elementary School student and a teacher at Horlick High School.