Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Not a response to cowardly anonymous letters...

I, along with several others, have received an anonymous letter from "concerned parents" consisting of various and sundry accusations and unpleasantries lobbed toward Carolina School for Inquiry and its director.  The writers claim they are anonymous because of fear of retaliation and not out of cowardice.  They also claim to represent the majority of parents, all of whom are terrified of the demonic power of the director.  Unlike whistle blowers who present factual information ("proof") of wrong doing to authorities in an attempt to right a wrong, these people offer nothing but bombastic rhetorical questions and sweeping generalizations.  All we know about them is that they are NOT English majors.

Some of the accusations allege mishandling of personnel issues or student discipline issues.  As anyone who works in HR should be able to explain to them, IF there were personnel issues (and I'm not saying there were) it would be illegal for the director or the board to discuss them.  And there are very strict laws protecting the privacy of students.  While one would hope that integrity would prevent people from spreading rumors that can't be legally addressed, we live in a free country and reap both the benefits and disadvantages of that freedom.

The few verifiable accusations not related to privacy issues are easily refuted.  For instance, they contend that when Governor Nikki Haley visited the school, the students were poorly behaved.  All we have to do is look at the videotape to see that the children were polite and exuberant; a wonderful combination I credit to the environment of respect and inquiry.  As always, I was proud of the students, the faculty, and the staff.  It saddens me that someone would try to steal such a momentous achievement from these students, simply to stoke their own anger.

And this leads me to what I really want to say about Carolina School for Inquiry, its fabulous director, and its magnificent teachers.  Carolina School for Inquiry started as a dream that students could learn in an atmosphere of respect, where their ideas were valued, their input expected, their voices heard.  Some people said that public school children needed worksheets and uniforms to achieve higher test scores (which, of course, have nothing to do with learning.)  We said ALL children are inquirers.  All children should be helped to find their inner writers, inner scientists, inner athletes, inner leaders.  ALL CHILDREN.

In the past five years, we have shown that to be true.  Our test scores are higher than the scores of the naysayers.  Our children love school.  They are not bullies, they don't bully; they have learned to deal with each other.  They don't have to be watched 24/7 to insure they don't step out of line, because the line comes from inside.  They know how to act.

Not everyone loves this as much as we do.  And that is OK.  CSI is a school of choice, and if it's not your choice, make another. 

In the past five years, we have not been the choice of fine families who believed that their children needed more or less structure than we offered.  Some wanted uniforms and more homework; others wanted homeschooling.  They believed their children would learn better elsewhere. 

We have not been the fit of some fine teachers.  Some left to become excellent teachers of inquiry elsewhere.  Others realized that they were more comfortable with conventional teaching methods than with the rigorous personal and professional demands on teachers of inquiry.  Some decided that teaching wasn't their calling.  Choices.

Carolina School for Inquiry has been a wonderful choice for my son.  At risk of staying safe in the mind-numbing boredom of a conventional school, he was shaken out of his comfort zone academically, physically, and socially by some of the finest teachers I have ever met.  No matter where he goes, no matter who he becomes, he will always be a learner, a scientist, a writer, and a great citizen.  Thank you Mrs. Dixon-Mokeba.  Thank you Mrs. Greene.  Thank you Mrs. K, Mr. Chris, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Hodges, and Ms. Spradley.  Thank you to all of the art, Spanish, music, and PE teachers.  Thank you to everyone who has helped my child become the great young man he is.

My prayer is that ALL CHILDREN, no matter what their learning styles, their gifts and talents, their personalities, their background; will be given a Choice for an education style that fits their needs.  EVERY CHOICE SHOULD BE AN EXCELLENT CHOICE.

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