An Eventful Year

As noted in the school board meeting in January, Dr. Wright has just completed one year as the Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools as have several others. I thought it would be worthwhile to review this past year and highlight what I consider to be some of the major accomplishments and changes that have occurred. Please let me know if you think it is worthwhile too.

My thoughts will be in the blue font. Everything else will just be a statement of fact and public records.

Highlights for 2014 and a couple from 2013

October 2013 -Capital Plan created by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood completed during the interim superintendent’s tenure (I know this was in 2013 but it played a major role in the events of 2014)

November 26, 2013 – Dr. Camille Wright was introduced as the new Superintendent. If you were at that meeting you heard her say she doesn’t plan to come in and make several changes.

January 2, 2014 – Dr. Camille Wright takes over as Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools

February 14, 2014 – Decision to move 9th graders to the high school announced by Dr. Wright. The announcement was published in the local papers and was stated it could be done without board approval but would be presented to the board at the February meeting.

February 25, 2014 – Move of 9th graders to the high school beginning with the 2014-2015 school year approved

March 18, 2014 – Board passes resolution in support of Alabama College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core)

April 8, 2014 – Decommission of Enterprise Junior High School and moving all 8th graders to Dauphin Junior High approved

June 11, 2014- Capital Facilities Plan presented to the City Council and Mayor showing $16 million would be needed to make renovations and build a new junior high school. Decommission of College Street and deeding to the city would be part of Phase II of this plan. Request for forgiveness of the $550,000 per year debt payment to the city was also included.

July 15, 2014 – 1/2 cents sales tax increase passed unanimously by the city council

July 22, 2014 – Agreement between school board and city approved by the board in the last meeting presided over by the outgoing president and includes:

– Enterprise Junior High to be demolished and land deeded to the city.

– Bates Memorial Stadium to be deeded to the city.

– College Street Elementary to be deeded to the city.

August 25, 2014 – Land purchase – approximately 30 acres for $540,000 – approved for new Coppinville Junior High School

September 1, 2014 – 1/2 cents sales tax is implemented

October 2015 – Based on Check No 34361 for $546,279.75 for Land in the check register it appears closing on the purchase of land for the new Coppinville Junior High School was completed sometime in October.

November 18, 2014 – Architectural contract with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood approved

December 16, 2014 – Bid of $70,668 from Cross Environmental Services, Inc. approved for the demolition of Enterprise Junior High

Many Accomplishments and Perspectives

These accomplishments can and will be viewed differently depending on your perspective. One of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotes is,

“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

Reagan_No Limit Paperweight

That quote can be applied to the accomplishments noted above and may make some look back on the year and feel pride in what has been accomplished.

The other perspective some may hold is some or all of these changes were not necessary at all or were not necessary in 2014.

There will almost always be a difference of opinion with most any decision made in the public arena, with the obvious exception of school board and city council votes in Enterprise. The question is, are the decisions being made in the best interest of those being served or not? That is a question that should be simple to answer but ultimately each person will answer for themselves. Much like discussion after a motion is passed it is only productive if it leads to change. You cannot change the motion but you can work through the political process to change the ones making and approving the motions.

Not many changes?

  • Do you think the changes made were warranted and necessary for 2014?
  • If you didn’t agree with the changes initially did your attitude change as they were implemented as the year progressed?
  • Did you not agree with the changes because of who will get the credit for engineering these changes?
  • Is it relevant we were told not many changes were coming but several major changes were made?
  • What do you think? I would love to hear your comments.

Addendum (My original post ended here but then this happened)

If you are wondering what the board thinks about the past year the addendum shown below should help. This item – Superintendent Contract Addendum – was on the agenda for the February board meeting and approved unanimously. No discussion or explanation of the addendum was given and it was not mentioned at all in the newspaper coverage of the meeting I have seen.

If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that any agenda item with no details or supporting information provided by the board encourages rumors. That is a fact. This one is no different than any other. However, since a concerned citizen and friend took the time to go to the Central Office to find the facts and then shared them with me I have included them below so any further discussion can begin at the same place, with facts. I think the addendum speaks for itself but I do have one question.

If the performance of the superintendent was meritorious and commendable as stated wouldn’t it be worthy of comment in the board meeting where it was approved?

 

SupContAddendum_20140224_3-1-2015 8-34-06 PM

 

Until next time…when I will discuss a different aspect some of these changes in a little more detail.

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Watch Your Back – Update

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150Last November I published Watch Your Back which is still by far the most widely read post to date on this little blog of mine.

As a result of the actions taken at the 10/21/14 school board meeting (the subject of Watch Your Back) the teacher suspended, Sonya Dean, subsequently filed a lawsuit against the school board claiming, among other things, she was wrongfully suspended and denied due process under the law.

As I understand it this case is one of the first, if not the first, to challenge a new law passed in Alabama in 2011 called the Students First Act.

“Approved by the Legislature in May, the new process — the Students First Act — replaces arbitration used under the Fair Dismissal Act of 2004.” Quote from the article link below.

As in most situations there are at least two sides to every story. According to some, this act changed tenure law and greatly limits the rights of teachers. According to proponents the law will help school boards better manage their staff.

You can learn more about this act at the article link below and the SB310 link to the actual bill as passed by the legislature.

Students First Act replaces arbitration process for firing, disciplining teachers

SB310 – The Act as passed by the legislature

This could be one of those landmark decisions as if this case is dismissed it will discourage and possibly even preclude others from being brought in the future.

Hearing was held

I was able to attend the hearing on the school board and superintendent’s request to have the case dismissed Thursday, 02/26/15, at the Enterprise Court House. It was both informative and instructive for me. As most cases go each side presented their position in the best light possible. I don’t know how the ruling will come down in 14 days.

However, I was reminded that often what seems right is not the outcome under the existing laws. Sometimes the law is just not written in a way that is favorable for your side of the case. There are always two sides though and the other side will likely have an opposite interpretation. The judge has to rule on the existing law, not what is the right thing to do if those two conflict. This can be an impetus for changes to such laws. Laws have to be tested in practice. This is one of those tests.

I do know it took courage for Sonya Dean to stand up for her rights and bring the case and that is to be commended. I also believe that many are more aware of the Students First Act is as a result of this case.

From my perspective, regardless of the outcome of the case, this was a worthwhile effort and lessons learned in this case will be beneficial for others if faced with a similar situation in the future.

What do you think?

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

 

Common Curiosity

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150I am a curious person.

What I have been curious about for some time is whether or not what I am seeing anecdotally from many educators and parents around the state and the country in regards to Common Core are true here in the Enterprise City School System. I call it a Common Curiosity.

I suspect if it is true here any ECS employee would probably not feel comfortable or safe voicing their opinion publicly because you do want to keep your jobs. I get that. I know that Tommy Bice has bragged about schools showing teachers the door if they didn’t conform to the new teaching philosophy and methods “recommended” by the Alabama State School Board. So I understand your reluctance to talk openly or maybe even among yourselves because you are unsure of how others might feel about the subject.

I also understand that I am just a guy with a blog and there is no compulsion or reason for you to respond to my curiosity if you choose not to. I get that too.

However, since I am curious, I wanted to describe a few examples or anecdotes I have seen reported elsewhere and see if they are familiar and are happening here. I think too often we think, “(Insert scenario or issue here) is bad but I know it is not happening here. We are fine.”

I am curious. Are we really?

Teacher Resigns Over Common Core

This story is from April last year but that doesn’t make it any less illustrative of what many teachers are going through today. Colorado public school teacher Pauline Hawkins resigned from her position as a high school English teacher in protest to Common Core standards. You can see her full resignation letter on her blog here. A couple of quotes from that letter on her blog post stood out to me.

“We feel defeated and helpless: If we speak out, we are reprimanded for not being team players; if we do as we are told, we are supporting a broken system….
I cannot stand by and watch this happen to our precious children–our future. The irony is I cannot fight for their rights while I am working in the system.”

Here is a link to another blog that gives several more examples of teachers quitting with Common Core as the primary reason, Common Core, How Many Teachers and Parents Have to Leave. There are teachers from New York, Ohio, Florida and several other states. Are there teachers in Enterprise, Alabama who feel the same and have reached this point of frustration?

Some of My Thoughts

It seems odd to me when one of the big buzzwords in teaching now is “engagement” with the students yet conformity is what is required from the teachers by the administrators as indicated by the Pauline Hawkins quote above. Do as I say, not as I do seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

I may be old-fashioned…No…I am definitely old-fashioned but I would think a better environment for teachers and students would be one where administrators engaged with teachers and students conformed. After students learn to conform they can then learn to engage. I don’t think it works as well when those are reversed but that is just me.

Is input from teachers, the ones who know the students and know best how to  reach and teach them, encouraged and welcomed or are you “reprimanded for not being team players” or worse when you suggest a different possibly better way to get the desired result?

Curriculum Concerns – Teachers and Parents

There was a recent story from Florida where a world history class was teaching the seven pillars of Islam but not Christianity in a World Religion class. The pages that would have covered Christianity had somehow been removed from the book.

I assume you have all seen some of the bizarre examples of what students are going through to solve simple math problems. If not just google “common core math problems” and you will have millions of examples. I just got 4.3 million. Is that methodology being used here in Enterprise? Does it make sense to anyone?

Is social engineering based on someone other than your own beliefs, principles and standards taking place in your child’s English and Math courses? Is History being omitted, added to, emphasized or de-emphasized in order to promote this same social agenda?

Are curriculum decisions really being made at the local level or somewhere above that?

Your Turn

These are some of the things I am curious about and look forward to hearing if anyone else has these same curiosities, concerns or examples from your experience as a parent or teacher. The only way I can gauge that is by your responses to this blog by either sharing it, responding to it, if you feel comfortable doing that, or letting me know your thoughts or thumbs up or thumbs down when you see me at Walmart, School Board Meetings, Church, etc.

If I do get feedback I will provide an update to this blog to let everyone know.

If you are not comfortable commenting here on the blog comments or on Facebook you can send me an email at stansblog@roadrunner.com with your comments, examples or to tell me I am clueless and need to go jump in the lake. Feedback from you, the reader, is the only way I know if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me.

Any update I do publish will not mention any names or comments that would indicate where they originated without your consent. I will just give a generic update describing the responses I received and aggregate numbers.

I am curious now to see your response.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

Is Work Art?

Have you ever considered your work to be art?

ArtOfWork-3D-LeftFace-Shadow

Jeff Goins, in his latest book, The Art of Work, contends it is and makes a very good case to support that supposition.

This might be rather unconventional but I don’t think you should read The Art of Work IF:

  • You’ve already discovered what you were meant to do and have already done it. If the Magnum Opus of your life has already been written and your legacy is secure there is probably not much to benefit you in this book. If your life and career is on track with no room for improvement God Bless You! According to most polls on the subject of job satisfaction you are in a minority.
  • You don’t enjoy reading inspiring success stories about those who have found their calling and vocation in life.
    • Ginny was at a crossroad in her young life. She was 23 years old and pregnant and being pushed toward an abortion by her boyfriend and her parents. If she chose to have the baby she would lose her boyfriend as well as the business opportunity he had offered to help her start. Her parents were going to kick her out of their house and disown her. Then she received a phone call that would change the trajectory of her life.
    • Jody experienced the loss of her husband and two close friends and those experiences led her to start her own business that now helps others going through similar experiences.
    • The rest of Ginny and Jody’s stories and many more are explored in The Art of Work.
  • You believe your purpose in life or your calling will just appear one day with no effort on your part, then you obviously would be at odds with these quotes from the book.

We all struggle to commit to the work necessary to find our purpose.

A vocation is not something you try; it’s someone you become.

You can’t find your passion if you don’t push through the pain.

However, if the scenarios above do not describe you OR if they do and you are still curious, keep reading.

If you do stay with me to the end I will show you how you can get this book for FREE!

A Few Reasons You Might Want To Pick Up A Copy of The Art of Work

  • You are in a job doing work you don’t think matters and is not challenging, satisfying or fulfilling.
  • You are in a job that is going well, everything is good, but you are just a lifetime learner who wants to see if there is something you might have missed or can do better.
  • You have often thought of escaping the drudgery of your current job but have never acted on that thought.
  • You know you are not doing what you were meant to do and want to discover how you can change that reality.

This book can help you to realize many things you might have overlooked on your journey so far. You may be much closer than you think to where you want to be. Once you make yourself more aware of where you are and what you have learned and accomplished so far, you will learn how to apply that knowledge and move forward. After all, part of the title of the book is, A Proven Path To Discovering What You Were Meant To Do.

Jeff researched hundreds of people who had found their calling and discovered seven characteristics common in each of their journeys. Each chapter describes these characteristics using at least one life story of someone who exemplifies that particular characteristic. These characteristics are not steps as much as they are stages that often overlap and continue as your journey continues. It was hard to just pull one quote to represent each characteristic but that is what I attempted to do here

  • AwarenessA calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.

  • ApprenticeshipApprenticeship, then, isn’t a class you take or a mentor you meet—its’ a choice you make.

  • PracticePractice can teach you what you are and are not meant to do.

  • DiscoveryA calling takes everything you’ve done up to a certain point and turns it into preparation.

  • ProfessionEvery calling is marked by a season of insignificance, a period when nothing seems to make sense.

  • MasteryWe are not what we do for our living, but our life is made up of what we do.

  • LegacyLife has a funny way of teaching us that sometimes the most important stuff is the ordinary stuff.

Jeff concludes with, “The work is never done. Your calling is not a destination. It is a journey that doesn’t end until you die.”

How are you doing on your journey?

If you think there is more “out there” that you could or should be doing The Art of Work might just be the trigger you need to set your journey in motion.

As in any book review I publish here I believe there is someone out there reading this blog that will benefit from buying and reading the book being reviewed. A book can remind you of something you knew once but had forgotten, teach you something new you have never even considered, or just entertain you for a little while. I hope I have given you enough here to pique your interest in this one. If not, maybe the free offer below will.

Here is the free book info I promised. Go to this link and get your own copy of The Art of Work for FREE. You just pay $6.99 for shipping and you will get the book plus over $250 worth of bonuses. You can get an immediate download of the book in PDF format and start reading it today.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

2014 Year In Review

As another year begins I wanted to write to thank all who have stopped by and read, commented, and shared any of the words I have posted here on this blog in 2014 so here it is…Thank You!

I do appreciate your time and input and hope to be able to post something that might interest you in 2015 too.

As the old year becomes new it is always good to look back to see what interested most readers last year, what worked and what didn’t. That information is always useful to me and it is a factor in what I choose to write about in the future. It would be silly and foolish for me not to consider this information. I am silly from time to time but try not to be foolish when I can avoid it.

Based on total number of views here are the top five most popular Peculiar Perspective posts of 2014.

Watch Your Back – Published 11/22/14

In case you missed it there were some interesting events in the October 21st school board meeting. Here is how it was reported in the local papers.

An Enterprise third grade teacher remains on 20-day suspension after the Enterprise Board of Education voted unanimously...Read more here Watch Your Back

YOU Are Not Alone – Published 12/01/14

A little over a week ago I published a post called Watch Your Back. In that post I asked for feedback both positive and negative as feedback is the only way I know whether my thoughts and observations have any validity or not. I mentioned I would be happy to post a follow up if feedback indicated I was on the wrong path. Well, this is that post…Read more here YOU Are Not Alone

Partly Cloudy – Published 01/29/14

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Mayor’s State of the City luncheon last week. I am grateful for that opportunity to visit with friends both old and new, enjoy a good meal, and learn about the state of Enterprise, The City of Progress, through a presentation by Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell.

In case you were not able to attend or did not see the reports in the Enterprise Ledger Friday and Sunday, the state of Enterprise is very good. Read more here Partly Cloudy

Confused Yet Confident – Published 03/04/14

It has been 18 days since the announcement the 9th grade would be moving to the high school next year and one week since the school board meeting, and then the post-board meeting. I attended both and am still confused as to why now. Read more here Confused Yet Confident

Why I Don’t Have A Fish On My Car – Published 08/08/14

I don’t have a fish emblem on my car and probably never will. I have nothing against fish or what the Christian fish emblem represents nor am I judging or condemning anyone who does have one on their car. I am a… Read more here Why I Don’t Have A Fish On My Car

Reading and Writing in 2014

The post that generated the most blog comments was Reading and Writing in 2014 published on 01/16/14.

As a follow-up to this particular post I had mixed results. I did meet the writing goal of 500 words a day for most of the 31 days of the writing challenge but that did not translate into an ongoing practice throughout the rest of the year. I would like to get back into that routine and actually create one that I can continue this year.

For the reading goal that one lapsed also but I did get 25 books read in 2014 which is about the same as 2013 so I am still reading and learning and still believe this is critical for anyone to continue to grow and improve themselves. I think a book every other week is a pretty good pace and goal and hope to meet that again this year.

Fewer Posts

I did have fewer posts in 2014 than 2013, 29 versus 38, even though the blog was active the entire year versus only about 9 months in 2013. Although I did have fewer posts they were viewed more times than the posts in 2013, an increase of about 60%. This information has helped me come to the realization that one blog a week is too ambitious for me. I am going to cut that in half this year and shoot for one every two weeks or twice a month.

Where was it viewed from?

It is always interesting to me to see the different countries where this blog was viewed from. In 2014 it was viewed in 56 different countries. Of course the United States was the primary location but coming in second was Brazil, which was a surprise, and then Canada was third. It was also viewed in India, Russia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mali, Ghana, Pakistan, Angola, New Zealand, France, Germany, Poland, Indonesia and South Africa, among others.

That still boggles my mind but just shows the potential reach of anything posted online, whether it be in a blog, in a Facebook or Twitter post or any other social media platform. Once Publish, Send, or Post is clicked those words are permanent and this is a good reminder or caution for anyone in the techno-social world we live in today.

Thanks again for your support and taking the time to stop by last year and may 2015 be your best year yet! I hope you choose to stop by here again from time to time. If you want to make sure you are notified when a new post is published, enter your email address in the sidebar to the right and you will get an email. You will not get added to any other email lists if you choose to do this.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

George Bailey or Bill Gates?

Are you rich?

In one of the most beloved movies of all times “It’s A Wonderful Life” ***spoiler alert*** Harry Bailey, George’s brother, says George is the richest man in town because of the life he has lived and the friends he has.

Forbes Magazine says Bill Gates the richest man in the world.

Who do you believe Harry Bailey or Forbes Magazine? Or both?

These are obviously two very different definitions and examples of being rich. Which one do you align more closely with and which would you like to be if you had the chance to choose?

If you are honest you would probably say, like me, I could be George Bailey with Bill Gates’ money, but could you really?

Matt Ham explores exactly what it means to be rich in his new book, Redefine Rich. Redefine-Rich-front-667x1024He might just help you redefine what rich means for you. Through personal stories and experiences from his life, he reminds us of some important life principles.

How do you define rich? Does the world’s definition of riches leave you feeling empty?

“Is there more to being rich than what you’ve come to understand?”

Redefine Rich will help you ponder these questions and will either give you a new perspective or remind you of one you once had that has slipped away.

Books don’t always have to reveal something new in order to be entertaining and enlightening. Often they are just reminders of something we already knew or help validate what we already know. If you can identify with any of the experiences or stories the author describes it can be life altering for you. Redefine Rich can be just such a book for you.

Matt digs deeper than the surface question of “Are you rich?” to “Are you living richly?” which is a question you may have never considered.

There are many passages from the book I have highlighted in my Kindle Notes. Here are just a couple.

“This book isn’t about finances. This book isn’t about death. There are many books on both subjects. This book is about our choice. A choice to live richly.”

“Can we all live a life abounding in desirable qualities? Can we all live richly? If so, what would that look like?”

As the author says, this book isn’t for everyone but his ground rules are.

1. You can live a rich life.
2. It will not happen by accident.

The thing about books is, as the old saying goes, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” Covers can be nice, pretty, disturbing or awful but you can only judge a book by what is inside the covers and you can only do that by opening it and reading it. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Redefine Rich and open it and read it. I believe you will be richer for making that decision.

This could be considered another spoiler of sorts but if you have read this far probably not,

“A great, wonderful life has everything to do with being rich, and being rich has very little to do with money.”

You might be richer than you think.

You can also check out Matt’s blog here http://mattham.com/blog/

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

 

YOU Are Not Alone

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150A little over a week ago I published a post called Watch Your Back. In that post I asked for feedback both positive and negative as feedback is the only way I know whether my thoughts and observations have any validity or not. I mentioned I would be happy to post a follow up if feedback indicated I was on the wrong path. Well, this is that post.

Most widely read post I have ever published

Watch Your Back was the most widely read post I have published so far. However, the reason for the follow up is not to report I received a lot of negative feedback saying what I posted was wrong or off base;  just the opposite. I have received zero negative feedback from this post, indicating to me most who read it agree with it.

This is not a conclusion based on a scientific poll of some kind just one based on human nature. People are just more likely to provide negative feedback than positive. Think about how many times you have contacted a company to give them positive feedback and compare that to how often you have contacted them to complain. No one has felt strongly enough to dispute anything I said.

I have received comments on Facebook, on the blog and in person that have been very favorable and in agreement with what I wrote but none indicating otherwise. The reason I felt this needed to be shared is to encourage anyone who did read it and think you were the only one who held these feelings.

YOU Are Not Alone

Many “suffer in silence” believing they are the only ones who notice or are experiencing this dynamic when, in fact, they are not. After well over 2000 views of this post, I can say with confidence in this case YOU are not alone. That is the primary reason I thought this post was necessary. Without this follow up post you might have thought there was only one other person who understood your situation. Based on the response to Watch Your Back you can add at least a couple thousand others to that group. I also know in the past the blog statistics I see do not reflect the total number that normally read the post but I can verify well over 2000.

Other reasons I thought this post would be worthwhile are:

  • If knowing there are many more in the same situation helps just one person know they are not alone then it was worthwhile.
  • If it helps one or more to speak out then it was worthwhile.
  • If it encourages one person to get involved, attend more meetings, and vote in the next election who might not have otherwise, it was worthwhile.

Not exclusive to teachers

My previous post was triggered by the board meeting I attended and subsequent lawsuit filed by Mrs. Dean. However I suspect there are others in town who are not teachers in the Enterprise City School System that share similar feelings about their jobs as well.

What can YOU do?

  • If you have concerns I encourage you to talk to school board members, the superintendent, city officials and express your concerns. Attend board meetings and city council meetings. Bring your concerns before the board or city council if you feel strongly about them. If you don’t feel like your concerns are being heard or addressed then there are other options available to you. I will mention a few here but this is by no means intended to be an extensive list.
  • On speaking out I know many still do not feel they can freely do this individually and publicly and still keep their jobs or at least suffer some repercussion on their jobs. An experience with some of my comments being posted as a Letter to the Editor in The Southeast Sun reminded me of an option that is available to anyone who wants to speak out on this or anything else and remain anonymous. My comments were inadvertently posted with “Name withheld by request” instead of my name. That was just an honest mistake and there is no harm done from my perspective. However, if you do want to speak out and need to remain anonymous you can send your comments to the Southeast Sun and request your name be withheld. They will do this as long as you do sign your comments. I am not sure if the Enterprise Ledger/Dothan Eagle will do this as well because I have never requested this myself.
  • Another way that everyone  who lives within the Enterprise city limits can express your displeasure with this or any other decisions and actions taken by the school board and central office is to vote in the next city election.  You CAN still cast a vote without any fear of repercussion and elect city officials who share your principles who will appoint board members that also share these principles. That is the only way real change will come. The next city election will be in 2 years in 2016.

Just for reference, in the last city election in 2012 three councilmen and the mayor ran unopposed and in the two council seats that were contested the total votes cast in District 2 was 453 and in District 3 was 630. You can refresh your memory here if that interests you Enterprise Incumbent Council Remains.

In any case, I hope Watch Your Back and this follow up are confirmation to you, if you needed it, that if you do feel bullied and intimidated in your job, YOU are not alone and there is something YOU can do about it.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

 

Watch Your Back

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150In case you missed it there were some interesting events in the October 21st school board meeting. Here is how it was reported in the local papers.

An Enterprise third grade teacher remains on 20-day suspension after the Enterprise Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to uphold the superintendent’s decision.

Harrand Creek Elementary School third grade teacher Sonya Dean had requested a hearing before the board following her written notification of the suspension, according to a statement read by Enterprise Schools Superintendent Dr. Camille Wright during the board meeting Tuesday evening.

“Board, before you, you have the information regarding the proposed suspension of an employee,”
 said Wright in her written statement. “At this time, I recommend that Miss Sonya Dean, teacher at Harrand Creek Elementary School, be suspended for 20 work days without pay for the following reason: Ms. Dean struck a child on the back of the neck on Sept. 24, 2014, which is in violation of her performance duties to establish and maintain a positive and safe learning environment and to act in a professional manner.” ...Full story at link below

Enterprise BOE upholds teacher’s suspension

The Enterprise City Schools Board of Education suspended a Harrand Creek Elementary School teacher without pay Tuesday night over allegations she struck a child.

Sonya Dean, a third grade teacher at the school, was suspended for 20 days after the board returned from deliberating in private for more than an hour Tuesday night.

Dean was alleged to have struck a child on the back of the neck, according to Superintendent Dr. Camille Wright.

Dean’s lawyer, Tom Brantley, said Dean was alleged to have “rubbed her hand behind the neck of a sleeping student” so the child could finish taking a test...Full story at link below

City school board suspends teacher without pay

I was at this board meeting and the way it was handled was much different than other similar personnel issues have been handled in the past. I perceived this as public bullying and intimidation. I don’t know any of the facts in the case other than what I heard at the meeting and read in the subsequent news reports but the way it was handled was out of line, in my opinion.

Whether it broke any laws or not will be decided in the lawsuit if it moves forward. Laws can be applied with malice toward none. That did not seem to be the case in this meeting. The accused was presumed guilty and there was no chance to change that presumption. Presumed innocent was not in play here at all. After the allegation details were read in the public board meeting, it seemed rather hypocritical to adjourn to executive session to protect the “good name and character” of the accused when that had already been publicly tainted at best.

And then there was a lawsuit

Not surprisingly, this week it has been reported the accused teacher is suing the school board. The articles below show how that was reported in the local papers.

A Harrand Creek Elementary teacher filed a lawsuit against the Enterprise City Schools Board of Education on Thursday, saying she was wrongfully suspended over allegations she struck a child.

The document was filed by third-grade teacher Sonya Dean, who was suspended without pay for 20 days between Oct. 22 and Nov. 19 on allegations she struck a child on the neck during a classroom exam…Full story at link below

Teacher sues Enterprise City Schools over suspension without pay

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Coffee County Circuit Court, a Harrand Creek third grade teacher charges that her rights were violated under Alabama law in connection with her recent 20-day suspension without pay.

Charged with denying Sonya A. Dean of her due process and equal protection under the law are Enterprise Schools Superintendent Dr. Camille Wright and Board of Education members Gloria Jones, Bert Barr, Ross Cotter, Doug Vickers and Dorothy Richardson, all sued both in their official capacities and individually.

Dean charges that she was wrongly suspended without pay for 20 days from Oct. 22 through Nov. 19 of this year and that her suspension cost her to lose $5,494.20 in pay…Full story at link below

Teacher sues Enterprise BOE, Superintendent

If…then

If this is indicative of how other issues are handled now in Enterprise City Schools then it is understandable if teachers feel intimidated and are not speaking out when they disagree with management decisions they are required to implement. A healthy working environment encourages different and dissenting ideas because that is what makes the final product better.

As an outside observer it appears this is the environment we are asking and expecting our teachers to operate in is not one conducive to their best performance. My conclusions are based on what I have observed in board meetings.

Credibility is lacking

In the August 25th board meeting the Director of Elementary Instruction, Mark McCrory, was asked by Mr. Cotter if there was any dissent for the policies removing conduct grades. He said there was none, that this decision had unanimous support, and, in fact, the teachers had come to him and requested it. I don’t know if all of that is true or not but the unanimous support and no dissent is not believable to me and makes me question everything else we are being told. One of the few things I do know and can believe with that degree of certainty is any school board or city council vote on any action item on the agenda will be approved unanimously. Having sat through many of both over the last year and a half that is as close to a sure thing as I have ever seen. I suspect all of the instructional changes, testing, and new policies along with the micro-management are not as universally accepted as we are being told either.

Leadership is lacking

In my career I have worked in environments myself where I had to watch my back because I could not trust my manager to have my back and he tried to “manage” using implied threats and job security. Management by intimidation and threats is not leadership and is not conducive to good performance. I ended up leaving that job and becoming an independent contractor for a few years. I actually did contract work for this same employer, but on my own terms.  What I learned from those experiences, and have tried to do since, is I should always work as if I am an independent contractor because that is, in reality, what employees are in today’s economy.

That is my perception of what faces many not in the central office right now in the Enterprise City School System. Having to watch your back instead of knowing your managers and superiors have your back is not a desirable environment for the teachers and administrators and, ultimately, the students of Enterprise City Schools. One cannot do their best work in this type of working environment.

I would love to be wrong and, if I am, please respond and let me know. This is, after all, just one man’s opinion based on my own life experience and what I have observed. I do know many will not respond due to the reasons mentioned above and understand that. If I do get an overwhelming response telling me I am wrong I will be happy to write a follow-up post saying so.

Let me know what you think and Watch Your Back!

Until next time…

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Right Thinking

Thoughts Banner 2From the title of this post you might think this was a political book expounding on the virtues of how right thinking, in the political realm of thought, is powerful. Let me put that thought to rest for you. It’s not.

What the author does provide in “You & Your Thoughts: The Power of Right Thinking” is much more powerful than any political thought ever…and there have been some powerful political ideas or thoughts.

Enough about, or not about, politics.

From the Foreword, “Many Christians are trudging through life without any compass, unaware of the transcendent yet everyday practicality of the timeless truths of God’s Word. Rediscovering a life of confidence and hope is what this book is all about.”

In this updated version, the original was published in 1977, a few minor changes have been made to bring the text up to date, but all the original ideas of Dr. Radmacher have been retained. The purpose of this book is to “allow Christians to use their minds to lift up the name of Jesus, advance the Gospel, and boldly proclaim God’s free grace.” I believe this book will help all who read it make progress toward that goal.

As Dr. Radmacher explains, using the computer related example of GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out – our minds function very similarly. Just as computer programmers understand this truth and do their best to keep the garbage out, we should do the same for the computer God has given us, our minds…but do we?

This book will remind you of the importance of not allowing garbage into your mind and will go one step further in encouraging you to put the Word of God into your mind and heart instead.

You may be thinking, I don’t have time to memorize scripture. Regarding that thought the author poses a few convicting questions.

“Do we Christians have time to eat daily, but no time to get into the Word? Do we have time to read the newspaper every day, but not the Bible? Time enough to glue ourselves to the TV set, but no time for the Scriptures? What does all of this say about our values?

Do those questions hit you as hard as they do me? Do you really pay attention to what you are allowing into your mind? 

This principle reminds me of what Zig Ziglar often said, “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and how you are by changing what goes into your mind.”

David said it best in Psalm 119, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

What are you hiding in your heart?

If this sounds like something you would like to explore to refresh your memory or understanding or learn for the first time get your copy of You and Your Thoughts today and start re-programming your mind and thinking right. “It will make a difference.”

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe or select one of the other options to follow this blog and you will be notified whenever a new post is published.

Independents Do Not Decide Elections

3002776434_643d076694_nI am tired of hearing the supposed election experts and pundits (insert name of your choice here) say the election (insert election here) is going to be decided by independents.

That is just not true.

The election will be determined by two groups of eligible voters, the Robot voters and the Single-Social-Issue non-voters. It is really very simple.

Robot Voters

Most people think of robots as some technological creation that somewhat exist now but will be more prevalent at some point in the not too distant future. That is one definition.

However, robots have existed for years. They show up every two years at the polling places on Election Day and pull that lever for the party their parents and grandparents voted for, for no other reason than, “they have always done it that way.” They do not educate themselves on the issues, how the candidates they are voting to elect or re-elect have voted or not voted, or the character of the candidates. All those facts and characteristics are irrelevant as there is no decision-making process taking place at all.

Black voters do make up a large portion of this group of robot voters but it includes members of all races and all political parties. Since Blacks do comprise the largest block of this group, if they maintain their status quo of the past 60 years and vote for the Democrats as they have done consistently there is a good chance that many Democrats will be re-elected, deservedly so or not. This vote has been consistent and reliable for the Democrats, and even take for granted, even though when you look at what they have received for this unwavering support there is very little to be found. This support without any accountability continues to astonish me.

Both major political parties come around every couple of years and make promises that sound good and tell their constituents how much they care about them and are working tirelessly for them and need to be re-elected in order to continue this important work. However if you look for any evidence that indicates this work has accomplished anything for the voters it is proposed to help, very little can be found.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is what these voters have done over and over. They are not holding those they are electing accountable for results. If it wasn’t so predictable and preventable it would be sad. Maybe they are getting the results they want but if so, their expectations are really low.

Single-Social-Issue (SSI) Non-Voters

The other group that will determine the outcome of this upcoming election as they have in past elections are those who select a candidate based on their stance, support of or opposition to a single social issues alone. This group is not mutually exclusive from the Robot voters. Christians are the largest block of this group. The participation rate of Christians in recent elections is embarrassing and disgraceful to this Christian.

They will show up to support Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby but then choose to stay home on Election Day. This makes just about as much sense as the Robot voters vote…none at all.

One significant difference in this group and the robot voters is the robot voters do consistently show up at the polls and cast their votes. This SSI group stays home and forfeits their voting privilege because a candidate or party does not meet “all” of their requirements. This excuse for not voting is just as astonishing as the voting record of the robot voters to me.

In the last two presidential elections there have been millions, primarily from this group, who have just stayed home and not voted because they did not like either of the candidates. These people are looking for the perfect candidate, which does not exist and never will. When not having the option of voting for this non-existent candidate they have chosen to just stay home and not participate as some type of protest. This non-action and abdication of their privilege to vote is the same as a vote for a candidate or party they would not have likely voted for. This is astonishing to me as well.

Don’t be a Robot or SSI citizen

If any of this applies to you, don’t be a Robot voter or SSI non-voter this time! I would rather you not vote at all if you are not going to cast an informed vote. I did write about that previously at Maybe you shouldn’t vote.

Inform yourself about the candidates and the issues and get to the polls Tuesday and exercise your privilege to vote and select those who will be making decisions that will affect you, your children and even grandchildren. There are many ways to get informed. I will mention a couple here but this is by no means an exhaustive list. As long as you are making the effort to learn and cast an informed vote that is all I am asking.

It is not my place to tell you how to vote. I would be happy to discuss any of the candidates or issues with you personally but that is not my purpose here. I just want people who are eligible to vote to exercise that privilege and cast an informed vote. If that were the case we would have much better representatives making better decisions to make this a better city, county, state and country.

As Ursula from The Little Mermaid said, “Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it?” Selecting a candidate when none meet all of your criteria or expectations can be one of those tough choices; but it is one we all should be making. Doing the research to learn about who and what you will be voting on will take a little time but it is time we should all be taking. Only then can we expect those we elect to make tough wise choices when they are faced with them in their term serving us.

Your One Vote Does Count!

Dr. Ben Carson has written a short book called One Vote that reminds us or informs us why our One Vote does count and why we should not take this privilege for granted, make ourselves informed voters and vote. You can get your own copy on One Vote free at Make Your Voice Heard. Get it and read it before you vote next week. You will be reminded why you should vote and should be an informed voter. You might just be inspired to vote if you were thinking about sitting this one out too.

Even if you choose not to download the free book you can go to OneVoteBook.com and take advantage of all the resources available there to inform yourself about the process, issues, and candidates.

If you are a potential Alabama voter you can learn more about the statewide amendments by clicking Fair Ballot Commission 2013-2014 Statewide Constitutional Amendments Ballot Statements.

This is America – Act Like Americans!

If you are an American citizen you have the privilege of living in the greatest country on the face of the earth. We have been blessed and continue to be blessed by God. You have a responsibility to be part of the informed electorate and take part in the democratic process of electing those who will “serve” for the next 2, 4 or 6 years. Do your part and make your vote an informed vote. Whether you take your responsibility seriously and fulfill it is your choice. Choose wisely. Make a choice you can live with.

Independents do not decide elections. You do!

God Bless America!

Until next time…

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