A lot can be learned at school board meeting

If your children attend Elizabethtown Independent Schools, I strongly encourage you to attend a monthly school board meeting. I recently attended my first and was enlightened by the experience.

The meeting was mostly spent recognizing students and addressing routine administrative issues. The most substantive portion was the grading scale discussion.

EIS use a stricter/higher scale to assign letter grades than most/all other Kentucky schools. Some parents felt that may adversely impact grade point averages, thus disadvantaging students competing for college admissions and scholarships.

Only two school district representatives spoke during this exchange. Superintendent Kelli Bush provided statistics comparing EIS students to those from other area schools to support her stance that the existing grading system does not harm students. She also opined that “lowering the bar” would unquestionably result in less academic effort from students. Board member Matt Wyatt supported her by arguing “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“ ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared.” — Colin Powell

I had several issues with the board’s research methodology and reasoning. Regardless, while comparisons to others can be useful, that should almost never serve as the sole benchmark. The question never should be entirely about how well students perform compared to other schools, rather how well EIS students could be performing compared to goals and objective standards established by key stakeholders, including most importantly parents.

“Complacency is the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness.” — Pat Riley

Board members clearly held a viewpoint and appeared wholly unreceptive to dissenting opinions. Parents were afforded very little time to speak or ask questions. The topic was rushed to closure with Bush stating, “We need to move on.” It is doubtless that parents felt disregarded because they were.

As a first-time attendee with few preconceptions, I would hope my observations were relatively neutral and objective. Again, take an hour to attend a meeting and decide for yourself how effectively the board interacts with parents and responds to their concerns. The next meeting is 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at Panther Academy.

Robert Kiser

Elizabethtown

Don’t act quickly when evaluating candidates

My dad cautioned me about impulse spending. “Sleep on it,” he’d say. If the shiny new widget held my attention until morning, then buy it. Such insight saved me a lot of money.

Decades later, I’ve learned how this thinking applies to other things — like voting.

Last year, when former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo received rave reviews during his early handling of the COVID crisis, there were giddy whispers about a possible draft Cuomo movement. While I wasn’t convinced, I didn’t dismiss the idea totally. Former VP Joe Biden was struggling in the Democratic presidential primaries, and a younger, more forceful personality had some appeal. I slept on the idea, Cuomo’s sexual harassment story broke and Dad’s theory proved accurate again.

Another of my fleeting hopes was that America finally would witness a civil, thoughtful campaign between two seasoned candidates. This would have required the Republicans to push Donald Trump aside in favor of someone more statesmanlike. Trump’s exit would then force both sides to address — yes, I’m serious — issues. Obviously, I have something to learn about wishful thinking.

Campaigns test our ability to evaluate candidates. Among Republicans, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the first African-American to serve in both chambers of Congress, might be worth watching and N.Y. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez turns 35 before election day 2024.

It will also be interesting to see if hopefuls like Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, Ted Cruz and others dutifully step aside in case Donald Trump runs again.

Good luck sleeping through that.

Jim Newton

Itasca, Illinois

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