Article: An open letter to
TO: Auburn City
CobbSUBJECT: A Lack of Balanced
Information on YRS
My family moved to Auburn six years
ago. We could have chosen any town in a three-state area. We chose Auburn
because of its excellent schools and cohesive community. I have two children my
oldest graduated last year. My youngest is a junior at AHS. I am active in the
school system and am currently PTA president at AHS.
I've been involved with PTA since my
first child was in kindergarten. I'm a person who believes in working within
However, this weekend I joined a group
called Citizens Against Year-Round School. I joined because of my frustration
with the failure of ACS to provide parents with balanced information on the YRS
I have felt this lack of balance
throughout the information collection process.
I felt it as a member of the ACS YRS
Committee's Subcommittee On Facts that worked hard to produce an accurate,
easy-to-read summary of the literature for parents only to have it buried in a
document that was not the work of the sub-committee. I felt it as I tried to
put together a balanced and informative panel discussion on YRS and was
provided with panel members who addressed only the pros of YRS. I felt it as I
listened to administrators stress the importance of independent, well-designed,
and carefully carried out surveys and then watched as they carried out their
own straw polls of teachers and students. I felt it as a simple public survey
was made confusing and hard to turn in.
I most recently felt it when I picked
up the Nov. 13 issue of the OA News to find an eight-page ACS insert containing
a very PRO-YRS Q&A that ignored data less favorable to YRS, and ignored or
made light of many of the concerns expressed by parents, teachers and students
at the parent information sessions.
As a taxpayer, I'm frustrated that ACS
is using my tax dollars to provide biased information to the public. As a
believer in the system, I'm disturbed that parents have had to expend time,
energy, and money trying to bring balance to the discussion. As a PTA
president, I'm worried that this discussion is draining the energy of parents,
splitting the community, and making it impossible to address the many issues
within the school system that need attention such as playgrounds, library
books, block schedule, the tougher graduation exam, etc.
Just think what we could have
accomplished if all of the energy parents have expended trying to bring balance
to this discussion had been used, within the context of the traditional
calendar, to address the needs of at-risk students.....
Letter: Committee member
dismayed at YRS tactics
Attached (See A-1)
(see above), is a copy of a
letter on the YRS community education process that I read at the Nov. 17 city
council meeting. I have covered these same points with school administrators
and the school board at various times over the past few months.
In all the years that I've worked with
PTA, I have never seen a more biased handling of an issue by school
administrators. Throughout the process, I have made our administrators and
school board members aware of my concerns. But the blasted information kept
In the past few days, I've had numerous
calls from parents who are totally confused by the survey and polling process.
I've also received calls from parents wondering when they were going to get
Last night, I overheard a conversation
of some middle school children about a presentation they heard at school
regarding year-round school. These children were talking about all of the
wonderful enrichment classes that would be offered during the inter
sessionÛart, music, rock climbing, etc.
A check with a teacher this morning
confirmed their story and the fact that the presentation was made before the
children were to fill out a survey on this issue. As a member of the committee
appointed to look at YRS, I know that our committee did discuss enrichment
activities but only in a most general way. I also know that Dr. Martin made it
clear that there were no dollars in the current budget to pay for such
wonderful things. We don't even I have the money to pay for the proposed
I'm deeply concerned that our
administrators would use children in this manner. I'm so concerned that I've
decided to submit the letter I read at the city council meeting for publication
in your letters to the editor column.
Letter: Reader: 'Malladi
Dr. Malladi has continued to write
again and again about why we need YRS. Needless to say, I disagree with him. He
does have the right to give his opinion as do I. However, a few items within
his Nov. 15 O-A News article need clarification. The fact is, the traditional
calendar as presented on the Alternative School Year Community Survey should be
correctly listed as a 12-week summer break instead of 11. If you look closely,
the traditional calendar and calendar A both list an 11-week break despite the
fact that the traditional calendar has eight days more of summer break. The
Auburn City School administration continues to mislead the public on this
matter. They say the traditional calendar is 11 weeks because we had an 11-week
summer last year. If the traditional calendar as shown on the survey is used,
it yields a 12 week summer, not an 11 as indicated. ACS has not made a simple
mistake, it is a misrepresentation.
Dr. Malladi refers to the informal
teacher survey taken at the Auburn City Schools. Considering the survey, I too
am not surprised that it shows a high number selected the alternative
calendars. What Mr. Malladi did not tell you is that the informal teacher
survey is not the same as the survey published in the paper. The informal
teacher survey did not include a traditional calendar in its options, it only
showed the four alternative calendars.
Concerning the polling of the AU
faculty, I am unaware that a survey has been taken of this group. If so, I
would like to see the survey and the raw data from this survey.
Letter: Too much
administration (cri adminis)
The Alabama education crisis has been
around for some time and probably will not be resolved soon or easily. We can
expect the current debate to continue indefinitely, and a major reason is the
education establishment, 32 percent of whose staff never see a student and
seldom see a school, or more accurately, are not involved with students
directly. They toil in district, county and state offices where their main
concern is making reports, designing experiments, attending meetings and
proposing "improvements." They are members of a bureaucracy, that
like any normal bureaucracy, is concerned mostly with self preservation. What
is more, it is a bureaucracy that was set up to indoctrinate, not to educate.
Too many things are working against the system for it to be a success.
In seeking an answer, consider the
operations of one successful corporation. AES is a profitable company that
works around the world and does not follow conventional management practices.
With 10,000 employees, it is the world's largest privately owned generator of
electricity. It has no personnel department, its legal department consists of
one lawyer, its finance department has one treasurer and it has no public
relations staff. Its negotiations with environmentalists, like all its
activities, are handled by line staff, the people involved in day to day
Imagine what our teachers and our
children could accomplish if this was tried in our schools. Imagine small
schools with responsibility assigned to teachers, with teachers reporting
directly to parents, and with no intervening state or federal regulations. Not
only would costs go down, but learning would go up as teachers and parents came
to know one another, and as working together they discovered what best suited