Wednesday, February 8, 2006

I'm Not Sure, But I Think We May Have Touched A Nerve

One of the Indian River School Board members, Mrs. Donna Mitchell, has responded to our concerns about the future of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts.

Her letter to the editor in today's WAVE newspaper (
We need to be looking out for the overall good of public schools) reads like an angry response, to me. My guess is that she was hurt or insulted by the volume and force of mail she has gotten from parents worried about a threat to the school.
I'm concerned that what started out as a good idea with honorable intentions has now turned into a spoiled child who looks down on her sister schools as inferior.
I assume that she is responding to what was written in private letters to her. Most of what has appeared in the papers, and what was said at the School Board meeting, was very respectful. In her response, Mrs. Mitchell paraphrases several letters that she says she has received. She has focused, in her response, on issues that I think are secondary, but I will assume they are important to her.
As I read these letters, I sense that parents like having their children involved in art school because their children are having difficulty integrating socially in the public schools or are unwilling to have their children participate in the diversity of 21st century America.
Wow. That is rather a sweeping generalization, and doesn't at all reflect our experience. But I'll forgive her that.

Mrs. Mitchell goes on to quote dollar figures, student/teacher ratios, and class sizes. I'd have to look more closely at the data -- with help from someone qualified to interpret that data -- before responding to the thesis she puts forward, that the District spends too much on the "spoiled" families that have kids in SDSA.

Finally, Mrs. Mitchell offers a spirited defense of athletics in education.

Physical Education leads to healthier bodies and improved behavior in schools. Do you realize that removing sports would increase the dropout rate far greater than if arts were removed and despite what you may think, many of our student athletes are excellent students and some even take art and play in the band.

I had heard from some other parents that Mrs. Mitchell was the prime force behind the proposals to do away with SDSA, and that she was doing so in favor of spending on more sports fields. I had questioned this notion. I didn't believe that a School Board member would be likely to take such as position.

After reading this letter from Mrs. Mitchell I have a feeling that I may have been wrong. She does sound like a person who wants to close our school in favor of more "traditional" athletic programs. Not that she wasn't exposed to the arts, apparently.
For your further information, I was in the band, chorus and my class play. I also participated in sports. I believe our schools should and do offer some of everything. That's what public education is all about. When a parent wants specialization they should look to private schools.
So. Here we have a member of the school board advising Karen and I to move our two bright productive students -- and their share of funding from a neighboring school district -- out of her district and put them in private school.

Well. I suppose we can think about that.


Nancy Willing said...

Mike this reminds me of the silly fight that WNJ editorialist Harry Themal got into with a DelDOT staffer. He complained about the lack of DelDOT responsibility to remove work ahead warning signs along the interstate which effectively create a hazzard if folks get complacent and no longer think there is work ahead if there consistantly is none ahead....

So the staffer shoots back a letter telling Themal that this point of view means that Themal wants to put DelDOT workers in harms way to remove said signs.

Say What??

Just a stupid, knee-jerk response that ignores the point.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the IR school board has hit some serious fiscal issues. Sussex Central has been plagued with problems since the opening of its new school, and the district is facing a possible law suite. IF a school board member is telling you to leave, maybe you should, or better yet gather some like minded folks and apply to the state for a charter. Open up another art school charter in their back yard, and see how IR likes that!

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