Visions and Values; Pondering the Public Forum…

6a00e5509ea6a1883401901d26bffd970bMany thanks to everyone who came out to the Visions Committee’s Public Forum last night, and sharing your core values with those who will be making some very serious decisions, and soon.

If you were there — read on!  I welcome additions/corrections in the “Comments” section; if not — read on!  It is not too late to let the Committee know how YOU envision the future of education here.

Table discussions revolved around changes in the community and the economy in addition to schools, and a gallery of post-it notes illustrated the feelings; the values of the people present.  Just before adjourning, we were given copies of draft Vision Statement, Mission Statement and Core Beliefs on which to scribble suggestions.  Here they are!  Any suggestions YOU make to revise them will be shared with the committee…..

RSU 50 Vision Statement (The Schools We Strive For)

“Provide an equitable, challenging, and personalized student education system, which fosters an excitement for learning that prepares each student for college, careers and global citizenship.”

RSU 50 Mission Statement (What We Do To Get There)

“Develop and advocate for sustainable educational policies, effective school leadership, challenging curriculum, proven instructional practices, and diverse student-centered learning models provided in a safe, healthy, and respectful environment built on strong community partnerships.”

RSU 50 Core Beliefs (What We Act Upon)

1)  “We believe student success is our top priority, and their voices will be heard.”

2)  “We believe each school provides a safe, caring, and supportive learning environment that fosters innovation, creativity, wellness, teamwork, and self-expression for everyone through diverse experiences.  This is achieved by celebrating the preserving the unique character of our communities, where families and schools are in partnership.

3)  “We believe success is attainable for all students, holding them to high expectations.  This is achieved by providing instruction by high-quality teachers who will provide students with skills, behaviors and knowledge to be productive citizens by modeling civic responsibility, social justice and multicultural understanding.”

“*Core beliefs will be reviewed based on the work provided tonight.  Please feel free to add comments as well.”

The emphasis on that last bit is my own.  The Committee will be revising the above statements based on what they hear from YOU.  The next meeting date is, as yet, unavailable, but when I find out I’ll post it.  It doesn’t matter how you choose to contact the Committee — either directly, or, of course, if you want to post here I will see that they have it….  But please, get in touch.  Have your say.

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18 responses to “Visions and Values; Pondering the Public Forum…

  1. After attending last night’s “public forum,” I have many thoughts. First of all, the above statements they asked us to comment on were very “wordy” as usual and should be simplified. It is my opinion that less time should be spent on all of these statements, beliefs, etc. and get to the real issue. Wasn’t this organization, Great Schools Partnership, hired to perform a study of the best ways to consolidate within the RSU? This was meeting #5 of this committee and they are still working on beliefs, visions, etc. The meeting was conducted mostly by table discussions and people were not asked to comment orally to the presenters or the group as a whole and were not offered a question and answer period or an opportunity to voice concerns. It is my understanding that a public forum is normally hosted for just that reason – for the public to ask questions, oral discussions, etc. As the meeting came to a close, people were asked to fill out an “exit ticket” paper which consisted of commenting on the meeting activities and the opportunity to ask questions. How will these questions be answered for us as there were no names on the papers and the same people may not be in attendance at the next meeting? Would it have done any harm to allow people to ask questions for a designated period of time? I guess I am just not comfortable/familiar enough with this type of meeting style and cannot see that much was accomplished. Those of you who did not attend, you didn’t miss a thing!! Oh, that was mean…………………… How are we as parents and citizens going to make a positive difference in local education?

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    • It was my understanding that Great Schools Partnership was hired to act as a “neutral facilitator” to guide the RSU in making decisions surrounding further configuration. Of course we all know they were hired to provide credence to the decision to consolidate further that was made long ago.
      I vehemently opposed the idea to hire anyone, what with all the faculty cuts…. Here is an excerpt from a letter I wrote the Superintendent in June:

      “… Now you want to bring in consultants, “Greater Schools” or something to that effect, to serve as “neutral facilitators”? They are being hired by you, and will ostensibly act under YOUR direction, to further YOUR agenda…. Are we to expect that they will be any more “neutral” than yourself? Will these consultants be a five or six-figure expense? It is fair to say, they will command more than the faculty members with whom you dispensed, though contribute far less to our children. Aren’t YOU are being well-paid already to be a “neutral” facilitator, though the cost-shifting to which you freely admit belies your failure in that regard…..”

      Your critique of the uber-controlled format is a valid one, and shared by many who were there. You, and they want, and deserve the opportunity to confront the scenarios being considered in a direct way, in a back and forth where your questions are actually answered rather than collected on paper on your way out the door. Make no mistake, they will not give you this opportunity until the train (and your tax money, and your children) has left the station, so to speak. …when it is too late for REAL public input. It’s always been too late to change the Superintendent’s mind, but you CAN and should TAKE that opportunity to petition the Committee, the RSU Board and your local town officials personally. A public presence at meetings; utilizing the public comment period… Letters to the Editor…. is vital, but so is the conversation behind the scenes. Thank you for doing whatever you can for your community; children and taxpayers alike.

      Never think you can’t make a positive difference in local education. You do, have to create that opportunity – again, they won’t give it to you. A Board that views its constituents with the sort of dismissive condescension doesn’t function as well as one that has a… I don’t want to say “fear” but let’s say, “healthy respect”.

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  2. Not by these meetings, there smoke and mirrors. They dont care what
    parents think, this is just to kill time until they drop the bomb.You can not beat this by setting and wasting time.This guy is laughing out loud.

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    • You are right, they DON’T care what parents think, but do want to create the appearance that they do. They are failing miserably on that score, as your comment suggests.

      I didn’t see a mandate to close Katahdin in the gallery of responses to the writing prompts that were designed to provide the groundwork for just that. Those who attended and participated did NOT “waste their time” at all. I doubt he is laughing, but if he is, so what? No one thought we would “beat this” at the Public Forum, and you echo what I am hearing all the time about how little is accomplished with each step. At the meeting, you took a step in a journey of a thousand miles, and are closer than you would have been.

      You “beat this” in little steps; persistence over time. It takes everyone and everything from speaking out at meetings, picking up a phone and calling your Board member and enlisting the help of your town officials.

      It’s a long fight — too long for kids. The alternative is to lose control of even more of your tax money, your children.

      You’re right about something else. When they “drop the bomb” it will be too late, and you must get ahead of it; talk to the people making the decisions and encourage others to do so as well.

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  3. Its there meeting, there time, there agenda. Go home and write next
    years tax check. No just give them a blank check.

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    • You echo what I am hearing quite a bit — Monday night’s forum was WAY too controlled, but that’s par for the course, isn’t it?

      That meeting was not an opportunity to beat this, let alone the only one. It was simply a way to tell the Committee where you stand, and you certainly didn’t give them any mandate to close Katahdin and take all your money north.

      Have you joined the RSU withdrawal effort? If successful, you have more options. You can still share a Superintendent — anything you like, but your finances are your own.

      They are trying desperately to control the narrative in the community, but you are winning that one. Much of this sort of battle is won behind the scenes, by people who have their Selectman over for coffee; who get on the phone… I’ve seen it!

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  4. concernedparentalso

    Well make that check big, because there property taxes are going
    down. Sherman is funding a real good junk. Taxes are going up hang on. But do not talk, and if you do , only what they say.
    HOME SCHOOLING IS THE ONLY WAY OUT OF THIS MESS.
    stop the money flowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

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    • Homeschooling may help kids out of the mess, certainly, but they will still raise your taxes and take your money North.

      “Do not talk”? DO talk! …to your Board members, town officials and neighbors. Want to stop the money flow? Get out of the RSU. Its an arduous process, but so is paying ever-rising taxes.

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  5. We need help, i dont mean more meetings. Stop the money flow?
    You might be on to something. We need the selectmen and the town
    manager. How do we get there attention? Stop paying taxes, put the town in the red.Keep your tax money in your savings, until they jump
    into this mess with us. No more mild and meek, hard core all the way. No more making snow balls and getting other people to throw
    them. Stop the money flow,,,,,,,, thats got a great ring

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    • How do you get their attention? Call them. Stop into the town office. Have them over for coffee….. They should be on your side anyway, and if not, find out why. They may be assuming there will be long-term benefits to closing Katahdin but in an RSU they would still control your money? “..and it’s fun to spend other people’s money” ~The Humble Farmer Right?
      People have been reluctant to say anything at all, confusing deference and respect. You can speak uncomfortable truths to power in a respectful way. Going along is disrespectful to kids and taxpayers.

      This isn’t my first rodeo, you know. I’ve been here before. Do what you can, and you will be amazed how others follow and what you can accomplish.

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  6. Sorry I didn’t make the meeting Monday night. I will have more time to delve into this at this point. Why don’t we just organize our own community forum, invite him/them and run it the way we want to. Open public discussion, where people can really speak up and he might actually listen for once.

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    • How wonderful that you DO “have more time to delve into this at this point”! Our communities need people like you; with such great ideas! I think you’re onto something here.

      Clearly they would like to avoid the sort of public forum then-Commissioner Gendron held in Benedicta. People let her have it, certainly. Ultimately, though, that served only as a springboard, really, to win the battle behind the scenes with various people working together. We have those same opportunities here, of course, and people are doing the same.
      Maybe that’s why I wasn’t quite as discouraged as others. I liken the pace of progress to my experience there. Keep your chin up, and know that everything you do matters – even if you don’t see it at first:)

      Thanks!

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  7. I would just
    Ike to address the students voices being heard. That is a crock of doo doo. Pardon the expression. They do not want to hear from our kids unless it is heaping words of praise for our schools. It is all smoke and mirrors. They want people to think that they are running things very well. Bull. Kids have the right to be heard and share their opinions in a respectful way. They do not want to hear it!! Talk about trying to prevent others from knowing about the stupid things going on at Katahdin.

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    • That certainly struck me as steaming pile of happy horse-s**t too, sadly.

      Here is why:

      Music students compiled a SurveyMonkey petition last Spring. After hearing nothing by May, I promised to look into it at the June meeting. Barbara Burton said, “I never saw it!”. As Larry likewise denied its existence, Phil barked, “It wouldn’t have mattered anyway”. I didn’t know until later that a student had handed that petition to the Superintendent personally. If Mamma Bears could write letters, it would have sounded like mine to the Superintendent the very next morning. What a squandered teachable moment in civic engagement! What utter disrespect for kids!

      Other instances of “policies” attempting to govern; to control how students express themselves; I’m told “RSU 50: A Student’s Perspective” was not exactly well-received by the leadership when it appeared in the Pioneer.

      https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/682/

      Kids not only have a right to express themselves, and share their opinions in a respectful way, but we have a responsibility to encourage them to develop the civic skills to be effective, self-governing citizens.

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  8. There is no respect for any body or any thing at Katahdin. This is the floor mat they have laid out. Common core?? they think thats some thing to eat. When you do try to jump in and fight back, they turn the
    kids up side down. I get a big kick out of the system. Give them i pads and give the parents paper. Oh ya, dont put your name on it.
    When they make them kind of statements there slapping us in the
    face. [ in a nice way ]. This is smoke and mirrors, and bringing him
    to one of these meetings, really, really, for what, a speech or another
    group to be formed .

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    • They will “turn the kids upside down” if you DON’T “jump in and fight back”. Everyone can see through the “smoke and mirrors” — the depth of understanding of that, that I encounter regularly is not to be underestimated. Sure! We’ll go to their meetings; tell us what we want. But that is only a beginning. Keep the pressure up; on your Board representatives, on the administration and on the press. Make it happen.

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  9. Now its 2014, we are still talking about the same thing. 10 more months it will be 2015, thats only a hand full of meetings.

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    • So much happens outside public meetings, though. But there is quite a bit YOU can do outside of meetings. Talk to your neighbors, support and promote the RSU Withdrawal Initiative; talk to your Board representative, the Vision Committee members who will be making decisions and, of course, the press. The recommedations they will be making — and some of them are so hairbrained! The potential to suck money out of the classroom and into bussing and ever more administration is staggering…. Those recommendations will be for 2015, but you must get well ahead of them.

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