School issues require more patience and communication

And you thought Washington politics was nasty? The acrimonious dialogue between various groups, the Florence One Schools board/administration is obviously not in the best interests of children’s education in Florence.

The unsubstantiated criticism of Superintendent Richard O’Malley’s initiatives for upgrading the district’s curriculum, but without anybody offering definitive alternatives, results in biased rhetoric for some individuals’ self-serving purposes and creates unnecessary divisiveness in our community. The vote on the Career Center issue was simply to allow O’Malley to explore the possibility of a partnership with Florence-Darlington Technical College to improve those students’ abilities to become more marketable in the business world. That concept has far more advantages for the students than the stated negatives of transportation, etc. The board’s vote was not an action vote to immediately implement the program.

If I learned anything while serving 15 years on the school board, it was that after being on the losing side of a vote, a board member accepted the will of the board and did not schedule press conferences/public forums to criticize the majority opinions of fellow board members or the superintendent.

Better listening skills by all parties involved would be more productive for improving communications in a sincere effort to develop collaborative coalitions that will support the continued progress of education in Florence schools.

No superintendent or school board can please everyone. When they placate one set of parents, they invariably make another set angry. Unless someone has better ideas, then the board and community should give O’Malley an opportunity to implement needed progressive programs, whether the concept is borrowed from a successful school district in New Jersey or in Mississippi.

It was ironic, and probably embarrassing, to the legislature and the Department of Education, that the House Education Committee had to invite the state superintendent from Mississippi, usually the perennial bottom of the national rankings in education, to explain how they excelled in results with their early childhood education programs when Mississippi and South Carolina began their respective programs at the same time seven years ago. It now appears prudent that the legislature should invest more funding for higher-quality pre-K programs.

Mississippi also funded more professional development for teachers and created ongoing listening sessions at state levels for the teachers who are the real boots-on-the-ground answers for improving children’s learning abilities.

The forward-thinking vision of O’Malley to correct these same deficiencies in Florence One Schools is strides ahead of the state’s snail pace for reform. Florence One Schools board members, administrators and other interested shareholders must sit down together and get consensus on workable solutions for success. The children currently in the schools are not benefiting by adults constantly bickering over these inane topics.