Lorain City Schools- Guest Blogger -Kelly Boyer Sagert

September 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm 15 comments

Sing Along with Me: Memories . . .
By Kelly Boyer Sagert
Photo- TMC News
Three years ago, we were furious! We were outraged! Three years ago, we knew that we needed to do something – anything! everything! – to register our disapproval with the direction in which our school system was headed.

Lorain City Schools had just eliminated 243 teachers’ jobs and 22 preschool teacher aides’ jobs, with the fine arts programs shredded. We shouted. We sobbed. We hand-painted signs, we protested outside of the building where school board meetings were being held, we made sure that we were being heard. We begged television stations to show up, telling them that it was important that the community at large hears about what was happening to our schools. Important? Hell. It was urgent!

People waited in long lines to speak during the public portions of the school board meetings. People in the audience listened intently to what was being said by those standing at the microphone. We clapped uproariously in support and we gasped collectively in dismay.
People marched in with banners emblazoned with cards signed by members of the community, insisting that the fine arts programs be restored. The marchers received resounding whistles and cheers. They were our heroes!

Attending those school board meetings consumed a significant amount of time – but, nevertheless, the room brimmed with teachers (those still employed and those recently RIF’d), parents and students – and Lorain citizens with no direct connection to the school system who understood what was at stake if our school system was brought down to its knees.

After the meetings ended, if you were a WoM blogger, the night was still young, because you were anxious to get home to blog about what had just happened. You had to transform your chicken scratch into legible prose, but it felt so good because you were doing something valuable. You were actually making a difference! Then, you couldn’t go to bed. Oh, no. Not yet! There were comments – lots and lots of lovely, impassioned comments made by people who wholeheartedly cared about our schools – and so you stayed up late to respond to them. We were, if just for a blip in time, a force with which to be reckoned.

This time . . . Eh. Not so much.

Three years ago, I didn’t miss many school board meetings – and I needed a darned good reason to miss. This past year, I attended a few meetings . . . very few . . . and, when I did show up, it was all so very, very quiet . . . I think I left early once or twice, too, but I can’t really remember. Maybe I needed to go grocery shopping. What can I say. I tend to run out of lettuce and toilet paper.

Very few people bother to speak up these days at school board meetings. The audience – well, we’re scattered about in chairs located here and there, with plenty of free leg and arm room for all. And, sure. We hear what’s being said but don’t feel inclined to participate ourselves. That would mean we’d need to actually stand up and walk ALL the way over to that microphone.

We’re drowning in apathy – muddy, yucky, stinky apathy. We feel as though we’re in the middle of one of those dreams in which we know we should run or jump or do something – anything – but our muscles are weighted down and we feel as though we’re trudging through sludge. We know that all is imploding, right in front of our very eyes, but we just can’t seem to muster enough energy to try to do something about it – or to get out of the way in the faint hope that the other guy might try.

I know that I should create a heartfelt conclusion right about now. Maybe even pen a rousing call to action! In fact, my English teachers would have insisted that adding some sort of relevant finale would be necessary, but . . . yawn . . . I don’t think so. Not tonight, anyhow. Instead, I think I’ll just turn in early . . .

Original photo Mark Teleha


Entry filed under: city of lorain, commentary, education, personal opinion. Tags: .

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  September 28, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    You know what’s funny? While I was writing this, I was thinking about that “Can you hear me now???” sign . . .

  • 2. Grammy  |  September 28, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Perhaps the citizens who were involved realized that for all their caring and asking and commenting, the Board of Education is still doing what it wants to do, regardless of what the citizens say. Perhaps the apathy is a product of the educators in charge “blowing off the citizens” as just a source of money not capable of sound thoughts especially when they don’t agree with theirs. It wa such a great time to see people across the city come together for the students, too bad it crashed and burned.

  • 3. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  September 29, 2010 at 1:57 am

    It is sad that all of that momentum crashed. I’ve wondered if it’s a case of burnout — or, as you suggested, a case of people feeling as though they didn’t have the power to influence the outcomes. Maybe a bit of both.

  • 4. Bill Sturgill  |  September 29, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I find your comments somewhat sad and yet amuzing. I to wonder what happened to all that inthusiasum from 2005 to 2007. Has all been accomplished that the community ask for.
    Two board meetings ago I sat up front and I new all the people in the audience by their first and last names. There was Karen, Rhoda, Jackie,Ray, and a handfull of administrators, etc.
    The entire time I’ve been on the board the focus has been on money, a $9 million dollar debt, a levy that had no focus and no message ( May Levy ). My personal disapointment is how the site for the high school was more or less marketed to the city.
    I can only speak for myself but for me there never was any other site except the AK Site ( Now Lorain HIgh) or the river site. As you know I voted against the river site. I really did have reservations about the safety of the site. I have had all summer to sort them all out and validate if they were real issue’s, bottom line is I’m ready to build a high school.
    My realization is that it is more important to get started and build a high school, have a good curriculum, and oversite, and most important is parental involvement, that is what we and the district need to be successful. Any child can get a great education if there parents and child are engaged in the system. I believe that.
    If you want to know why people got complacent in the last few years look no farther than the $10 million dollar grant we recieved in 2007, problem is that no longer exist’s and again the district trys to realign and scramble for federal dollars. I believe we will have to save ourselves this time.
    We, (myself included) feel we pay enough tax’s in Lorain. I think the real truth after some research is that Lorain is a good place to live and buy a home because tax’s have been kept so low. Most districts on the average pay 47% of there school districts monies, that is the state average. Loarain pays 17% and even if the levy pass’s would go to about a little over 20%. I’ve given this some thought because I have to pay it also. I am now retired so my thought is, I think I should, I don’t want to but I will. Why? First I know what it will do for the district ! I don’t want to rely on federal monies all the time. i want to protect my home value, being a property owner. Most of all I ant good programing kept in place. We desparately need to give people reasons to believe in this school system, but that has to be earned , it isn’t something you can ask or even beg for, the price of integrity is honesty and hard work.
    Kelly, I want to tell you and everyone I havn’t forgotten anything we’ve talked about over the years. The goal is the same for me, eliminate the waste, provide a good education for the children, and be accountable for the trust people have shown in us.
    What has to happen, or would I like to see. is Charleston center get smaller by attrition. I’d like to see jobs combined, salaries aligned to fit positions. I’m not in a hurry to take anyone’s job away especially in these times, but we have to be frugal and accountable to tax payers.
    I would like to see our dollars put where I believe they would do the most good. Pre school is must to restore, identify where we are doing badly. 80% of our children come to kindergarten not ready to start and a gap is created, this is the most obvious.
    In 2001 the people of Lorain gave this city a gift when they voted to put in their share of the OSFC monies. The federal dollars aren’t here to support us. I think its time we make a decision how we want to run our system. I will say publicly I am ashamed of getting a 1 on the state report card. We are much better than that. I believe it is time for an accounting and holding people responsible for what they do, form the student, parent, teachers, administrators, supt. and the board. I hope you and others come back to the meetings and voice your concerns, they are very important. If anyone wants to talk to me personally my number is still in the phone book. I do believe we truly need this levy. I don’t think much will change without it. This is my opinion and not the opinion of the BOE. Thanks…..Bill

  • 5. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  September 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Hey, thanks for all of your thoughts, Bill! I have no doubt that you’re working hard and have all kinds of great ideas. I wrote this blog post because I’ve noticed such a huge difference in how people are responding to school challenges in 2010 as compared to 2007. I don’t know what happened to cause such a huge change. I’m truly puzzled.

  • 6. Brian  |  October 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Would you shop at a store that scored 1 out of 26?
    Would you eat at a restraunt that scored 1 out of 26?
    Would you send your children to a school system that scored 1 out of 26?

    Just like many parents have the option to eat and shop where they feel that they get the best service for their hard earned dollars, parents have the option to shop around for education.

    Would you give more money to a baby sitter for your child that scored 1 out of 26?
    Would you give more money to a school system that scored 1 out of 26?

    Would you BUY a car from a car dealership that scored 1 out of 26?
    Would you buy into a school system that scored 1 out of 26?

    The fact that most of our neighboring school systems score way higher than our own is a testament that higher scores are not only possible to achieve, 1 out of 26 is harly the norn, if not a ranking of failure.

    Educating our children has become a secondary concern in Lorain as politics and posturing has taken the lead. While the levy committeee is trying to educate the public about the schools need for more money, where is the emphisis on better educating our children and meeting the needs of our children?

    My children are the most important things in my life and I cannot wait around to see if or even when LCS will make my children a priority instead of a political pawn. I have very little faith that the levy will pass and when it fails I cannot wait around and see what happens. I am a product of public education and have supported public education in the past, but all public education is not always equal and regardless of how much money comes from where, LCS spends more per pupil that just about any other school system with the lowest achievement rates of the entire state.

    The mere mention that somehow our system is improving more rapidly than expected is like putting you child into a hospital where 25 out of 26 of the children are in a coma when every other hospital in every other city has a success rate closer to curing 25 out of 26 children. We are talking about our children and I don’t think that an “involved” parent needs to be educated about the need for supporting a hospital that needs more money to stay open when they can just move their child somewhere else.

    I believe that the people that need to be educated are those that are running our school system in what is expacted if they want our support. If they can’t do what is expected they should expect to get nothing. Doesn’t every parent have expectations of what is acceptable and not acceptable for our own children? Are not our children expected to behave and act a certain way when they are attending school? A child that disregards what is expected from them is not typically rewarded with new or special privilidges until the behavior is corrected.

  • 7. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  October 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts, Brian. I’m going to respond in more depth tonight.

  • 8. thatwoman  |  October 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Brian you certainly have a point and it is one I a wrestling with I have always voted for the schools but……….. we are being given the same reasoning as to why yes that we have heard before and yet we are in a worse position and quite frankly they are going to have to come up with something else to get my vote this time around……. I am willing to listen with an open mind ……. but not to the same reasonings I have heard for the years I have lived here and watched the decline…………… Loraine

  • 9. taxpayer  |  October 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I am not voting for one more cent of taxation – new or renewal . I am tired of the sky is falling rhetoric when all the time more money is going into admin. both in Lor City and LCS.

    They do what they want after the money comes in and come back crying we need more and more . Not me- not this time! 1 out of 26 ! Brian is correct that is unacceptable!

    The fire protection on the east side is a joke , we voted for Issue10!
    Lorraine , you supported that issue- where did it get us?

  • 10. thatwoman  |  October 1, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    You are correct as well I did support Issue 10 – I knew it wouldn’t be a cure just a bandaid, but I felt that we had to have that bandaid……

    I don’t know things look like they are imploding, I am very biased – as I have stated I want more police and fire protection not less……. I want styreets that I can drive on, housing I am proud of in my neighborhood……..

    I suppose I could compile a list of readers questions for the city and the schools – as we have done before and ask the admin , council and BOE to answer them???????? If you are interested send your questions to thatwb@yahoo.com

    So if you want to have any specific questions answered I will do that . I can’t guarentee they will be answered but the questions will be put on this blog and any answers that are given…….. Loraine

  • 11. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  October 2, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Brian – I can certainly understand why you’re not happy with the scores. But, they weren’t great three years ago, either — and it seems that, three years ago, more of us believed that we could be part of the solution. And, I wonder why that’s changed. Were we just wrong three years ago — and right now? Or are we just burned out?

  • 12. Loraine Ritchey  |  October 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Kelly , I am not Brian , who doesn’t seemed to be burned out 🙂 but maybe we “thought” we could make a difference three years ago and realized that after three years things didn’t just stay the same they have become worse apparently score wise at least…….. .I don’t know I was always kind of a surface dweller with the schools……

    I will tell you the stats on this subject are very high but they are still running fifth on the daily score sheet behind the “firefighters” and “Dachau” in 1st and 2nd probably because the firefighters memorial post and Dachau are drawing a world wide audience – also compared to the old stats on Wom for the same subject well they are just a blip-
    Bit depressing but there you have it ……burn out or beaten???????

  • 13. Brian  |  October 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    The BEHAVIOR from the school system itself has not changed one iota. Just like the politics in this city, noone is ever accountable. In fact, our children are expected to be more accountable than the system that is suppused to teach them. HOW VERY SAD.

    Just look at how the system responded when the latest scores came out. It was like a child who had come home from school with four F’s and a D and telling the parent, “I am improving, really. It may not look like it, but I am.”

    It is a LIE, and LIERS CAN’T BE TRUSTED.

    In the world of politics, no one is ever held responsible and nobody is taking any responsibility for anything. The saddest part is that our children are not the most important things in the system that we have. They are right behind the teachers union and the administrators.

    The system is broke in more ways than one.

  • 14. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  October 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Loraine – That’s what I’m thinking. Burned out or beaten — or maybe we don’t want to make a bad matter worse? I don’t know. Maybe, ultimately, the “why” doesn’t matter — but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to know what the “why” really is.

    Brian – I’m not arguing that the school system is pretty battered. I’m just wondering why we allow the behavior of others to determine our behavior, at least this time around. Because, for whatever, reason, we are.

  • 15. Lisa  |  October 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Brian said
    “The saddest part is that our children are not the most important things in the system that we have. They are right behind the teachers union and the administrators.”

    So true.

    If it wasn’t for the children, there would be no LCS.

    Why doesn’t anybody seem to get that?

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