Looks like the principal of Meridian’s Renaissance High School is using confidential parent e-mail addresses for partisan politics to oppose State Superintendent Tom Luna’s latest plans to revamp Idaho education spending.
GUARDIAN reader Chuck Everett was contacted via e-mail from his child’s school with the following message and attachment.
From: McGrew Wendi [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2011 9:29 AM
Subject: Important Letter for Parents Regarding Superintendent Luna
Please read the attached letter from Mrs. Alicia Peterson. If you have questions or comments please feel free to email Alicia at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!
Wendi is merely the messenger and was ordered by the principal to send the message to parents in an effort to solicit favorable testimony before the legislature. When he asked for equal time and access to the list of parental e-mails, Everett said he was met with silence.
Regardless of the potential impact on a school or district, the GUARDIAN feels it is not only inappropriate, but illegal to use public resources to advance one’s political agenda. Mr. Everett was just one of the parents who felt their trust was violated by using their e-mail address for partisan purposes.
UPDATE 6:30 p.m.–Meridian Schools spokesman Eric Exline told the GUARDIAN the use of the confidential parent list was indeed inappropriate. As a potential remediation, he offered Mr. Everett the opportunity to send an opposing view e-mail message to the same list of parents. The school would not disclose the names, but would gladly send the message.
We think it was a good move by the Meridian School to both admit the mistake in judgement and offer the fix.
Entire partisan text follows:
To Parents of Renaissance High School students,
My name is Alicia Peterson. I work at Renaissance in the Safe School Room and also as the Academic Accountability Program coordinator. I am also a mom of three children who attend school in the Meridian School District, one of whom attends Renaissance. Ms. Andrew asked me to attend a meeting with Dr. Clark regarding Superintendent Luna’s proposal for education reform. I have read some of the details of Mr. Luna’s plan in the newspaper and was concerned about how my kids would be affected. After meeting with Dr. Clark, I realized that Mr. Luna’s plan would have a greater impact than I had expected.
Superintendent Luna wants to increase class size. He says that the average class size, statewide, is 18.5. I don’t know about you but we have never had a class with only 18 students in it. In reality, the minimum number of students in a high school class would be raised to 25. This may not sound like a lot, but if there are not at least 50 students who want to take the class, thus meeting the minimum number to create two classes, there could potentially be 49 students in one class. That is a frightening number to me.
Superintendent Luna wants to decrease the number of teachers in the state by at least 770. This would result in 132 teachers losing their jobs in the Meridian School District. The teachers let go would probably consist of those who teach music, PE or other electives. Our students need these courses to help them get into good colleges as well as well rounded students. The decrease in staff would also result in 47 support staff being lost. This includes secretaries, nurses, library staff, and special education staff.
Superintendent Luna is also proposing that high school students take 6 of their required classes online. These online classes would be taken at school, but without a certified teacher in the room to answer questions or provide assistance. Before I worked at Renaissance, I was a substitute in the school district. I didn’t like to sub in math or science classes because I am not strong in those subject areas. How would a person not trained in certain areas be able to help these students? Also, the number of students assigned to an online teacher would increase. Would the students really be getting their needs met? How can you pass online English without writing a paper? Can you learn chemistry or biology without participating in a lab?
Superintendent Luna proposes to give every high school student a laptop. My children have a computer at home. The computers that are in their bedrooms do not have internet access as I want to see what they are working on. I want them to go to bed at a decent hour and not be online with friends or playing games. I have a filter on my home computer that blocks pornography. First, how can Superintendant Luna go around my rules for my children in my home? Second, who is paying for the filter and the internet service that is going to be required for kids to use their computer at home? Last, who pays to replace the computers if they are lost, broken or stolen?
What can parents who are opposed to Luna’s plan do? First, e-mail your representatives. They tally comments both for and against. Second, public testimony is scheduled for Monday, February 7th at 3pm in the Senate Education Committee. The testimony will continue for the next 4 days. Individuals can sign up to speak and will be given 3 minutes to testify. If you do not want to speak, that is okay. You can also just show up to the testimonies. When you sign in, they ask if you agree or disagree with the proposed bill. Please show your support for our students. Students are also welcome to attend and share their testimony. Ask them how they feel about these proposed changes.
If you would like more info, please e-mail me at email@example.com . Thanks for your time!
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