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home : letters : letters May 25, 2016

2/19/2013 5:02:00 AM
LUHS board president sounds off

To the Editor:

It was Twain who said, “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” 

But the paper seems to have taken a technique from the extreme ends of our politics: polarize an issue, report only a small sample of the information, and then attack a group or individual. 

The Lakeland Union High School District serves a diverse group of students from 12 townships. There will be conflicts and errors will be made. Public review and comment is appropriate. However, the issues in public education are complex and the community is not helped by attacks that limit thoughtful discussion. 

First, participation in the Model Schools Conference has been a key piece of bringing best practice back to the area for nearly a decade. The administration at LUHS is executing the directive of the board to improve achievement. This year, the board supported including staff from all four elementary schools. Ideas brought back include: better use of student data, professional learning groups and appropriate use of technology to help in the classroom.  

Do we want staff to stop going out to find new ideas because they fear that their menu choices will be another way that the local paper ridicules public employees for doing their job?

Second, the board is aware of the multiple open records requests made by the paper. One recent request was for more than 1,000 emails. Each document needed to be reviewed to protect student privacy etc. As required by law the records are then released. 

Do we want parents to stop contacting teacher and staff because they fear the local paper will harass them once their email address is revealed?

There is much work we need to do at LUHS if all students are to achieve excellence. As a district we need to recognize that many families have financial problems. More troubling is that only 54 percent of entering ninth-graders are ready to enter the regular classroom. Students from all four elementary schools make up a part of this gap.  

Yet it is worth noting that over the last 15 years administrators (Kleinhans,  Bouché and others before them) as well as teachers have worked with parents and students to move the school forward. Graduation rates have moved from the low 80s to 95 percent. Student performance on the national ACT test is near the top of all schools in the northern half of the state. Since approving a referendum for a field house 15 years ago, the district has been a good steward of the taxpayers’ money.

Going forward our community has several tough issues to address. How do we accelerate achievement while students are at LUHS? The curriculum committee is looking at data and course sequencing to help each student prepare a career path. Poor student participation and attendance accounted for 10 percent of the deduction that LUHS received on its first report card. How do we, as a community, improve hour-by-hour attendance of all students? There is an ad hoc committee looking at this complex problem. 

Finally, with state support moving away from public schools to private corporations, how does LUHS use resources wisely? 

I can only hope that the attacks by the paper do not silence participation on these issues.

Tom Gabert
LUHS School Board

Editor’s note: Mr. Gabert suggests that this newspaper may have or might intimidate parents and cause them to pause in communicating with their students’ teachers. This newspaper has never harassed parents nor have we ever asked for or revealed their personal email addresses – nor do we plan to ever do so in the future.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: tom handrick

Kay, although those may have been legit questions to ask the gov, why has the LUHS school board president chosen to pick on the paper instead of telling his superintendant to follow the laws. The paper has not done anything illegal here, Kleinhans has

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: Kay Samz

I think what bugs Marty may be what bugs me about the Lakeland Times. They are always outraged about things they feel like being outraged over. They had an exclusive interview with our dear Governor and not once did they ask him why he's spent nearly $500 thousand dollars on his criminal defense fund. They didn't ask him where the $54 million went that his brainchild WEDC lost. They didn't ask him about the six out of six convictions of his close aides and friends. And their pet peeve, open records?
Scott Walker's close friend and aide of over 20 years just recently pleaded guilty to setting up a secret email system in Walker's office to keep them from the public and press. What no Lakeland Times outrage over those things? They have absolutely no credibility left on this issue whatsoever. They may want to think about changing the name of the paper to the Tea Party Gazette or the Scott Walker Cheerleader.

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Handrick

Marty, The Lakeland Times is right on with the comment below the letter to the editor. The letter writer implied that the paper would publish email addresses of parents or others that emailed the school. Mr Gabert has shown his ignorance in writing the letter and beating on the paper when he should be spending his time having his administration following the open record laws. The failure of following the open record laws started when Mike Dailey was the LUHS superintendant and the school lost a lawsuit that cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars. Now Todd Kleinhans has followed in his footsteps and will continue to cost the taxpayers money on his ignorance of the law.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Marty Hafenbreadl

In regards to the Editor's comment....Poor form, Times. It shows great insecurity in your position that you felt the need to editorialize on Mr. Gabert's letter. Did it hit too close to home? Did he point out a few of your more egregious faults on the subject? Did it hurt to get figuratively punched in the nose? Was his little slap-down so painful that you needed to whine and try to slap back? Just because you claim that you would never witch-hunt parents or educators through their emails doesn't mean that he should release that information to you. As we see evidenced here twice-weekly The Times track record for sound judgment is questionable at best.

Your bully tactics are wearing thin. It's a shame that you so righteously believe that you are due the last word on every argument. These are good people doing difficult work under trying conditions - and living for the opportunity to do it. Yet within your non-stop hounding I've yet to see a constructive suggestion made on improving their educational task or supporting their efforts towards creating a stronger student community.

For you to have any say I would hope you're teaching journalism classes there, offering internships, and distributing free subscriptions to the students in those classes. Otherwise, to paraphrase an old saying 'Those that can, teach. Those that can't, print'.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Skierka

The administration and board should stop whining and comply with what they are legally required to do and concentrate on making the school a success instead of always trying to defend themselves from justifiably being under the microscope.

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