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Explaining the ‘moral imperative’ of the district

MILLIE HAMNER
special to the daily
Millie Hamner
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A recent letter to the editor sent a shock wave through the Summit School District. Although we welcome diverse points of view about how to best run our schools and are accustomed to hearing criticism voiced in letters to the editor about many topics impacting the citizens of Summit County, many of us were taken aback by this particular letter’s open criticism of Robin Ziperman, who is a highly regarded instructional leader within our school system and comments attributed to her in a Summit Daily News article.

A norm by which we operate in our schools is to attack the issues, not the people. Although we cannot expect everyone to operate under this same principle, I have always found Summit County citizens to be respectful in their expressing of opinions so perhaps this explains why we reacted so strongly to this letter.

Robin had been discussing the “moral imperative” of school leadership with the reporter in developing the article about the school district’s consideration of dismissing school early one day each week next year. This concept comes from the work of Michael Fullan and a book he has written entitled, “The Moral Imperative of School Leadership.” His primary message is that public school leaders have a moral imperative to do everything we can to promote public education and the success of every child in every public school in the nation.

This concept relates to what we are trying to do within our schools next year to continue to improve our educational program for every one of our students and how we are committed to doing whatever it takes to assure the success of each of our students. The moral imperative here is not around changing the school start and end times but in assuring that every child meets with success as a result of our public school system.

To create a bit of context for this discussion, at their May 24 public meeting, the Board of Education approved a proposal to adjust school start and end times next year to create a chunk of time every week during the teachers’ contracted day devoted to professional development.

This regular block of time will allow our school staffs the time they need to share ideas and learn new strategies for addressing the learning needs of every child in our system. We recognize that we have much work to do to develop consistent, well articulated learning outcomes for our students and common strategies for instructional interventions that challenge our most capable students and support those who are struggling.

I applaud our Board of Education for accepting the recommendation from our teacher and administrative leaders to pilot this change of schedule for the 2006/2007 school year knowing that ending school early one day each and lengthening the others will require some adjustments for our families.

Our school staffs will be doing everything they can to work with families and our community partners to make this work. We will have more conversations about which day of the week would be best to release students early and welcome public comments at our June 14 Board of Education meeting.

We appreciate and value our public and their comments and will continue to find the best possible ways to interface with our constituents. The Board and I will continue to schedule regular meetings in each school community and to welcome public comment at each of Board of Education meetings. We are committed to doing what’s best for our students and to working with our stakeholders as partners.

Superintendent Millie Hamner can be reached at (970) 668-3011.


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