Letter: Parent shares
observations of recent YRS meeting
The calendar sub-committee presented
four different calendars to the full committee Oct. 1. The starting and ending
dates, the number and lengths of intercession varied and summer break ranged
from 11 to seven weeks in the four plans. There was some discussion as to the
amount of remediation and/or enrichment in the intercessions and the affect on
summer school. Dr. (Suzanne) Freeman said we would work it out after the
switch, depending on the length of breaks. When asked which calendar would be
presented to the school board in December, Dr. Martin told a committee member
these were "sample calendars." The calendar subcommittee was then
asked to come up with "sample calendars" for the 1999-2000, 2000-2001
academic years for dispersal to the community.
The community is going to be bombarded
with eight different calendars, none of which are "approved," all of
which are "sample calendars." Thus it will be difficult to pin the
ACS down on what effect a particular calendar will have if implemented.
Discussion on intercession and its costs, affects on summer school were not
addressed. The fact that summer school takes six weeks to make up a course, and
the intercession breaks would only provide two to three weeks was utterly
ignored. Dr. Freeman did reiterate that each extra day costs $80,000, so
remediation would have to be "closely examined." Move the target and
you can't hit it.
The Summer Activity Sub-committee was
asked how many summer camps, churches, activities would be affected if the
minimal summer calendar was adopted. They reported there would be a significant
reduction in the number of activities children could partake in. Dr. Freeman
quickly moved the topic on to the next sub-committee .
The significant reduction in the number
of enrichment and other activities children could partake is a very negative
aspect of YRE. Why are we punishing the bright kids at the expense of YRE?
The Facts Subcommittee (the committee
put together after the full committee rejected Freeman's biased
"long" and "short" sheet on Sept. 2) began their report
with an argument over which draft represented the sub committee's work. The
Facts Sub committee met a couple times after reading and digesting more than 80
manuscripts, 12 of which were unanimously chosen by the committee members to
use in their fact sheet. After a long working session, the committee produced a
document called Draft 1, which they all agreed to. They debated each word in it
care fully and put together a fact sheet to be presented to the full committee
that afternoon. After the members of this sub-committee broke up for the
evening, the two co-chairs felt the document was too negative and completely
rewrote it, adding several items none of the other members of their
subcommittee had read or agreed to. The two co-chairs of the Facts Subcommittee
also took it upon themselves to include data from other sub-committees (that
they wouldn't give to their own committee members) into another document now
called Draft 2. At least four members of the Facts Subcommittee stood up and
said Draft 2 did not represent the work and information available to its
subcommittee and asked that presentation of Draft 2 to the full committee not
be allowed. The submission of Draft 2 was outside the agreed upon process.
When this was brought out, Dr. Martin
asked for Draft 1, which had not been put together by the co-chairs of the
Facts Subcommittee because they brought it to the meeting in complete disarray,
and did not include the 12 references that all members of the Facts
Subcommittee had agreed to use. Considerable time was spent getting the
document for everyone to read. Dr. Martin then asked how the document was put
together. Members of the Facts Subcommittee were in complete agreement on how
the document was put together and that each word was carefully thought out.
However, it was pointed out the Draft 1 document distributed to everyone at the
meeting was not what the sub-committee members had left with the co-chairs at
their final meeting. It had been changed.
Then, the co-chairs asked if they could
present the full committee their personal version (Draft 2) of the facts
concerning YRE. Again, the other members of the Facts Subcommittee objected to
the release of the Draft 2 because they had no input in the document and it
included material from other sub-committees that no one else had seen. Dr.
Martin said he "felt he was smart enough to figure out the differences
between the two documents" and directed it to be distributed. Draft 2 was
beautifully formatted and ready to be passed out by the ACS staff and two
co-chairs with time was allowed to read it.
Two comments were made from other
members on the Full Alternative Calendar Committee: A) How did you go from
Draft 1 to Draft 2 as they take opposing views of the benefits of YRE? and B)
Draft 2 reads surprisingly like the fact sheet that was flatly rejected at
September's full committee.
Dr. Martin then felt that both drafts
be accepted by the Full Committee and offered a vote:
1) Accept Draft 1, 2) Accept Draft 1
and Draft 2, or 3) Reject and send the sub-committee back to come up with
The logical choice is No. 3, however
what was left of the full committee (remember, one-third of whom are ACS
employees), voted to accept both drafts 1 and 2, completely conflicting
The parents, teachers, community,
school board, students and city council are going to get a fact sheet that was
prepared and put together by two members of the committee who went behind the
backs of the rest of the Facts Sub-committee. Dr. Martin offered to accept and
approved the acceptance of both drafts even though a majority of the rest of
the Facts Subcommittee objected to its release, and this information is going
to be passed on to you as being from the full committee.
Dr. Martin did not like the tone of
Draft 1 (neither did the co-chairs of the Facts Sub-committee) and railroaded
Draft 2 to be included into the ACS propaganda machine that is quickly picking
up steam. Thus, Dr. Martin will tell you there was a "process" and
"input," but the process was completely corrupt, and input from
members of his own committee was utterly disregarded.
The public input sub-committee then
gave its idea of the public input phase of this "nightmare from Samford
Street." Here it is. On Oct.12, the one and only public presentation from
the ACS will take place at the Auburn High School. By the way, Oct 12 is
Columbus Day, an ACS holiday and an important Jewish holiday. This meeting will
be moderated by a neutral person, Dr. Terry Ley from Auburn University, who
will answer only written and submitted questions from the public. Time and
length were not discussed. Publication/advertisement of the meeting was not
PTAs have been contacted, and will also
have parent meetings. I think I heard Cary Woods is scheduled for Oct 13. The
rest of the schools will have to schedule a special meeting. The ACS has
offered to supply a spokesperson to come and speak to parents about YRE, but
PTA presidents agreed to conduct such meetings only if there is an opportunity
to have someone outside ACS discuss the "negative" aspects of YRE.
The chair of the public input subcommittee did not offer to supply the other
There is no way the ACS can effectively
reach the Auburn public in less than 10 days - period. At the public input
meeting there will be no opportunity to ask follow-up questions, and there is
no way to ensure your question will be asked. The ACS administration will tell
you this is to stop repetitive questions. What if you do not like the answer?
What if their answer results in another question? This is not a public forum,
and it does not serve the people of Auburn well. Again, the process is corrupt.
This needs to be a major point discussed with your friends and in immediate
Letters to the Editor. This is a long weekend with many parents out of town and
an important religious holiday, which limits the inclusion of a major portion
of the community. Hello ... is anyone home at ACS?
Divide and conquer. The PTAs are stuck
in the middle, and I sympathize with their dilemma. There was no talk of who
would come out to each school, no discussion of who would moderate the sessions
(although it was mentioned there would have to be a time limit for each
question, I guess too much discussion about a major issue is just a bad idea)
and no discussion of who would be the "Con" presenter. The chair of
the public input committee told the PTA presidents it would be up to them to
find a "Con" presenter.
The survey and polling subcommittee
mentioned phone polls of parents, community business, surveys of faculty,
students and an independent AEA survey of teachers. No dates, times, companies
to conduct, survey questions formulated, methods of collection, distribution,
etc. were given. No one on the committee asked any questions. This subcommittee
will meet Oct. 13.
Give me a break. The ACS system can
mail out class schedules to parents every fall, why can't they mail out a
survey? When is this survey, poll, questionnaire going to take place? A
decision is slated for early December, and they have not even come up with
questions, surveys or someone to do it. Let alone allow time for people to
participate, return and ACS to compile the information.
More importantly, I am afraid the
"poll" or "survey" conducted by ACS will give parents a
false sense of security and they may believe they are having a "say"
in the process. After what I observed this afternoon, do not count on it.
The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
without discussion of another full committee meeting next month.
For a few weeks I felt we, as
concerned, enlightened parents, could make an impact on this committee, its
report to Drs. Martin and Freeman and eventually the Auburn City School Board.
After what happened this afternoon, scientific facts and figures are no longer
going to work to our advantage.
Write those letters, make those phone
calls, tell your neighbors and friends to do the same. The light at the end of
the tunnel is not the exit, but rather is the ACS Train bearing down on us.
Unless you clamor, loud, long and clear, to the council, the mayor and the
public using the above points and the biased fact sheets, multiple, moving,
nebulous calendars, yet to be completed polls and surveys, and worthless public
forums and PTA meetings, we will be starting school on Aug. 11 next year.
If you do not believe me, the school
board meeting that was scheduled for Dec. 8 and was the date at which the
school board would vote on YRE was changed.
No other date was
target.Do you hear a train?
PhDAU assistant professor