To the Editor:
There is a line from an old Laurel and Hardy movie: Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into. The “me” are Warwick students, teachers and parents; the “you” are Committee Chairwoman Beth Furtado and Superintendent Philip Thornton.
We can no longer tolerate the lack of leadership we see from the School Committee Chairwoman and the Superintendent of Schools. Too many mistakes, too many ineffective actions, too many false promises, too much finger pointing, and too much unwillingness to take responsibility plague the school system. And who suffers? The students, teachers, and parents suffer.
There are many examples of poor leadership. We read about it in the Beacon, we see it at the School Committee meetings, and our children and teachers experience it every day in the classroom. And just when we think that it couldn’t possibly get worse, we learn that the agreed upon language regarding back pay cannot be met.
When we ask, what happened, how did we get here, excuses rain down on us like meteorites hitting the atmosphere. And just like meteorites hitting the atmosphere, they flame out. It’s a nice show, but in the end – no substance.
We must ask ourselves: who negotiates an agreement without knowing whether they can meet the terms of the agreement they just negotiated? Why didn’t the Chairwoman do her homework and coordinate with the City Council before finalizing the language and signing the contract? How is it she signed an agreement she didn’t know the School Committee could deliver?
When this occurs, as it did, teachers have every right to ask whether they can ever negotiate in good faith with the School Committee. When this occurs, trust is shattered.
And where was the Superintendent? Was he working to ensure that the funds agreed to were available in the timeframe agreed to? Was he standing up for the teachers to guarantee that promises made in good faith were kept? No.
What leader sacrifices those he leads? How would we react to leaders in our organizations when they behave like this? Do we enthusiastically support them? Absolutely not. And not only is the Superintendent alienating the teachers, he is sacrificing the students.
The message sent is strong. We are dealing with individuals in positions of responsibility who are not capable of handling those responsibilities.
It’s time for both the Chairwoman and the Superintendent to resign. Let’s start 2018 by sending the students, teachers, and parents a clear message that they are important. Let’s start 2018 with a clear message that trust is important if we hope to move forward in a positive and constructive way. We have big challenges ahead that include: dealing with additional school closures, complying with the new contract, and an $85 million bond request (and the confidence that the money will be spent appropriately and efficiently).
The time for change is now.