Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I didn't sign up for this.

I just want to say, "for the record," as the saying goes, that I am extremely disappointed that the Board of Education has to make some of these proposed cuts to the school district budget. Some of the cuts do make good sense on their own and I believe will contribute to our operational and administrative efficiency. But other cuts will unfortunately affect our educational programs. We have no choice.

Will the art and/or music programs be "less" because they share a supervisor? Maybe. But I also know that we have great principals and amazing teachers of art and music and that talent and caring and enthusiasm won't disappear because we only have one supervisor.

We've looked at alternatives. We tried to work something out with our unions, but we were unsuccessful with two out of the three unions. So that meant we had to cut even more.

I've only been on the Board for 11 months. Let me tell you, this is not what I signed up to do -- laying off teachers or cutting programs. All of us on the Board want to build a strong school system, not take it apart. Unfortunately, outside forces require us to make choices. It really sucks...by their definition, choices require us to make value judgments, pitting one program against another. That's not empowering. That's not going to make us stronger. All we can do -- or the way I have to look at it for my own sanity -- is try and make every choice guided only by our overall mission of teaching and learning, not based on the inherent value of individual programs. Every program has its fans and students and parents. If we found somewhere else to make the cuts, then a different group of people would have made very similar arguments tonight. And I would have still felt like hell by the end of the meeting. And the district overall would be in the same place.

Instead, I have to admit that in the face of enormous odds, the proposed budget supports our overall educational mission as best we can, under the conditions we've got.


Anonymous said...

What do you think would have happened if someone on the Board made this statement prior to the meeting last night?

"These are tough economic times, not only in Ridgewood, but in communities and countries around the world. I am confident that the U.S. economy will recover and this great country will return to prosperity. But for now, we need to come together as a community, evaluate and re-evaluate our priorities for our educational institutions here in Ridgewood. We need to consider the difference between needs and wants. We need to consider our core mission--what it is and how it can be accomplished with less resources than we've had in the past. We need to identify partnerships with each and all of our stakeholders and we need to share the burden of hard and potentially unpopular decisions among and across the many constituencies that live in our community. It will not be easy, and sometimes it will not seem fair, but it is necessary. I need the commitment from you to work with the Board toward solutions that will enable this educational community to survive these tough economic times and maintain the core strengths of our system that will empower Ridgewood schools to emerge stronger in the future. Finally, I ask that we trust one another. You have my commitment that this Board and every administrator in this building will approach this budget process with honesty, integrity and transparency in our search for a comprehensive budget solution. This is no time for hidden agendas, on our part or on yours. We must work together for the future and embrace each other as partners committed to a common cause."

Laurie said...

Well, to answer your question, what do I think would have happened? In the end, probably nothing would have changed in terms of outcome, but perhaps some would have left the meeting with a slightly different taste in their mouths. This sounds familiar...like an Obama speech, maybe?

I'll be honest, I wish I had written and said something like that. Thanks for the knock upside the head. (Next time send your notes BEFORE the meeting haha.)

Your point is well taken, thank you.