Make It Seem As If You're Listening
OpinionFor a school board interested in transparency as Emery's is, the June 25th performance was downright Mitt Romneyesque in its breathtaking, high wire flip-flopping reversals. Enough, really, to make Mr Romney blush. Usually Mitt waits a day or two before he reverses himself, the Emery School Board on the other hand seems to have scarcely enough patience even to wait until a new sentence is started. As The Secret News reported, the Board seemed to relish shutting down the citizen dissent to their steam roller policy of closing Anna Yates Elementary School. How else does one account for the brazen articulations emanating from the Board that they intend on closing the school right after hearing the countering plea from some 70 letter signing citizens?
After hearing a reasoned and cogent plan on saving Anna Yates from parent Brian Carver, a representative of the 70 signers to the dissenting letter to the School Board, the Board assured all attending they would take the points of the citizens under advisement and then they one by one told the assembled crowd why they favor abandoning the elementary school.
School Board President, Melody Dice told the citizens she was happy they came and she would take the letter under consideration but she added, "It's absolutely critical to reduce 'transitions' for children", a 'transition' meaning a change of schools, as in elementary school to high school.
Board member Josh Simon said he was happy people came to express their opinions. He said that he too would take what was said in the citizen's letter under consideration but he said that he needed to "provide teachers with facilities they need with a quality school" as a way of indicating he favors abandoning the elementary school.
Board member Miguel Dwin too was very vocal in his thanking everyone for coming and he also said he would take time to reflect on the letter and the comments from Mr Carver but in the next sentence he assured the assembly, "I like the K through 12 [Kindergarten through 12th grade] configuration", meaning he will continue to work towards the abandonment of the elementary school, along with his recalcitrant colleagues.
Impolitic is the word at Emery United School District and it seems this School Board can't help themselves, at least when it comes to shutting down Anna Yates. A little 'on message' discipline would be in order here.
Free Advice For The School Board
While the School Board is to be credited for their honesty, we suppose, in the impolitic performance before the citizen dissenters at the meeting on the 25th, they would be well advised to acknowledge the possibility that this level of executive hubris could engender citizen blow back and it may not work out well for them ultimately. Here, then is some constructive criticism for the Emery School Board, take it or leave it-
When dissenters to School Board policy appear before you, you should:
- Thank them for coming (you seem to have this point down pat).
- Listen to what they say.
- Tell them their opinions are legitimate and that you will seriously consider their points.
- Make that sound believable.
- Keep your mouths shut; resist the urge to tell them your minds are already made up.