Letter: Loss of trust in
The recent actions of the Auburn City
School leadership left the Auburn community with confusion and frustration. In
relentless efforts to force Auburn City Schools into a year round calendar, ACS
leaders resorted to entirely unacceptable methods to overcome parents
o While ACS paid lip service to
listening to concerns about YRS, opposing voices were stifled. A vivid example
was the YRS town meeting on Oct. 12, in which only one opposition speaker was
admitted to a panel of eight. This one person was not even allowed a brief
presentation outlining disadvantages of YRS.
o Taxpayer's money was misused.
According to Drs. Martin and Freeman, no money was available for a scientific,
independent YRS survey. Yet ACS had money available to advocate YRS in an
expensive 8-page insert in the Opelika-Auburn News on Nov. 13, 1998.
o A committee of 50 worked for months
to research pros and cons of YRS Parents received two fact sheets with the
results. The O-A News insert ... was strongly biased towards YRS, contradicting
the fact sheets, and ignoring the committee's work.
o In that insert and at PTA meetings,
parents were threatened with new, tougher state requirements for the high
school exit exam and reading assessment, which would put many students "at
risk." YRS was shamelessly recommended as solution for this problem.
o Middle school students were
indoctrinated pro-YRS one day prior to surveying, and lured by unrealistic
promises of intercession activities like fly fishing.
o ACS did not commit to any of the
alternative calendars. Four YRS calendars were listed on the survey, increasing
the confusion. No financial analysis was attached to any of the calendars.
o The design of the survey allowed for
pro-YRS interpretation of any answer. Abiding by the survey instructions made a
clear choice of the traditional calendar impossible.
o The telephone poll was biased pro
YRS. Persons who indicated disapproval of YRS were discouraged from completing
o Cardboard boxes ''sealed" with
tape were used to collect the surveys. Slots for the surveys were large enough
to insert a hand, making any manipulation of the content possible.
In discussions at PTA meetings, Drs.
Freeman and Martin were at a loss to understand the determined resistance
against YRS. Earlier, they had succeeded with a similar approach implementing
block scheduling. They need to know that now they overstepped their mandate by
trying to impose YRS on Auburn. It is NOT the business of school administrators
to change the life of a community. Balanced discussion of YRS would be
The decision on YRS, however, should
ONLY be made by the community itself in a referendum. Inept surveying, an
autonomous recommendation by the School Superintendent, and a vote by an
appointed Board of Education do not substitute for a democratic decision!
Auburn deserves better.
Bernhard and Milla