Editorial: Vote appeared to ignore concernsDuring public meetings hosted by the District 518 Board of Education regarding the flexible learning year proposal, the number of attendees who expressed concern with the plan easily outnumbered that of its proponents.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
During public meetings hosted by the District 518 Board of Education regarding the flexible learning year proposal, the number of attendees who expressed concern with the plan easily outnumbered that of its proponents.
Apparently, that didn’t matter much to the board, which voted 4-2 Tuesday night to submit its flexible learning year application to Minnesota Department of Education. The decision makes Worthington one of a host of southwest Minnesota schools districts expected to advance a revised school calendar that would start in the 2010-2011 year; the state must ultimately grant its approval.
Board members Lori Dudley, Bob Jirele, Joel Lorenz and Linden Olson voted for the change, which would establish a pre-Labor Day start of Aug. 23. Mark Shepherd and Brad Shaffer voted no, while Steve Schnieder was not in attendance.
Among the benefits cited by District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard and other flexible learning year proponents are improved staff development opportunities and what they believe could be improvements in students’ state and federal tests. It should be noted that the executive board for Worthington’s teachers union registered its opposition, citing a lack of research to show the change would be beneficial to those they educate.
Shepherd, in explaining his vote, expressed the opinion that improvements in instruction and staff development could be made without a flexible learning year. He also said, “I do not dismiss the concerns of students, parents and teachers, even if they’re personal concerns.”
Shepherd, for one, was clearly listening to his constituents. In doing so, he was performing the job he was elected to do.