For years, I’ve wondered why "someone should have stopped the parents from going public" is always the Bryan County Board of Education’s prime objective and first response when parents voice a collective opinion (unless, of course, the opinion is POSITIVE about something the BoE is doing). It is my observation (and past experience) that, most notably, the BoE superintendent cannot seem to address parents’ input, opinions, concerns, or questions with a more collaborative or cooperative spirit. It is like hitting a brick wall trying to discuss a major issue with the superintendent--basically being told to just accept things as they are. This seems to be the general consensus in the Brian County school district as a whole. Especially if you are parent from "the outside" as I am. I think that as parents, we all realize we may not always accomplish the outcome we desire, and BoE policies may mean things have to be done a certain way. At the very least, we want to feel that our BoE is not just paying lip service when we speak out.
There has always been a "miscommunication" between the band and the BoE. Many of us feel that the band program means little to nothing to the BoE and Mr. Spann. Ideally, we’d like our ideas, etc. to be seriously considered and perhaps used to make changes to policies if necessary. Growth, improvement of processes...those should be some ultimate goals. This is why many parents "go public"...so that someone, somewhere actually LISTENS and might possibly take action to improve the situation.
With out the "extracurricular" programs such as band, football, softball, basketball, chess, sailing, etc, there would be no motivation for many of the children to go to school. Also, these programs enable many children to go on to college, through scholarship programs and such, where they would not have any other means to attend.
More then 1.5 Million teens are involved in the band programs nationwide. These children do, on average, better in math, science and reading then those that are not involved. When your child is in the band, or you go to see a band program, you hear the passion, see the joy and feel the heat. When you are in the band you are someone, people look up to you. Marching band alone is a very physical activity. I don’t know a single adult that could meet the physical demands of preparing and putting on a show to the caliber that RHHS does. I guarantee that the phys ed teachers in Bryan County couldn’t, much less many on the school board or the principal.
Especially in today’s culture, nothing gets an "involved parent with an opinion" more "involved" than trying to "stop them" from doing something they’ve already made up their minds to do. Parents can and do form and express their own opinions without a teacher’s input. If the problem of the parents going to the media has reflected on Mr. Westman then you are blaming the wrong man. No one person can stop another from doing what they think is right and just. If the actions of the parents have embarrassed the BoE and Mr. Spann then maybe they should ask themselves why they put themselves in the position to be embarrassed.
Understandably, the BoE cannot disclose any "personnel issues" about Mr. Westman. However, to ask parents to stifle their opinions and requests to keep Mr. Westman only creates an air of secrecy and stirs more curiosity. Mr. Westman has done more for the band program in the two short years he has been here then ANYONE thought possible. He has always put the needs of the students first and foremost in everything he has done. Has he always done this to the liking of Mr. Spann and others? No, but has any adult, when led with a passion to see "his" students to succeed, done this? I hope not. Is there is a personality conflict between Mr. Westman and others? Probably. I believe, however that if this is the case then those with a problem should "build a bridge and get over it"
The BoE should ask themselves, at what point do the students and there needs and desires come first? Are we to teach our students tolerance and how to except differences or are we teaching them that if you anger someone person in the act of doing something just and right you’ll get "fired"
Mr. Westman's "breaking some rules" is hearsay...if he has not been offered a contract because of that, yet again we are left wondering - this time, about who is held to what standards in this school system. It seems that the BoE and others hold themselves to their own standards and not to the standards of the people that elect them to be in the positions they hold.
Mr. Westman has certainly met and exceeded all expectations of the students, parents and community. If the issue is between Mr. Westman and Mr. Spann then the BoE needs to step in to resolve the issue instead of loosing someone that has become so important to the students and the community.
Maybe it is time for a change. Though the changes should come from within the BOE and the school principal, it seems doubtful. Maybe the change should start with new elections for the BOE.