Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Since the Collier School Board’s organizational meeting in November, I have paid close attention to them by attending board meetings, reading the paper and talking to friends in the community.  And I must say, I am very concerned about this board and the way it is perceived in the public, especially the three senior board members, Kathleen Curatolo, Julie Sprague and Roy Terry.

Once again, their actions have landed them in yet another lawsuit.  Why have these three senior members not disclosed their involvement in these alleged illegal activities?  Why the big secret?  This is damaging their public perception in a really big way.

Last month, Ms. Donalds was roundly criticized by the three senior members of this board for going to Marco Island, as a private citizen, to speak out in favor of a resolution opposing the Common Core Curriculum and High-stakes testing.  Yet the Chair, Kathleen Curatolo, spoke at a Collier County Commissioners meeting last month in opposition to this same resolution, and not one word was uttered about her actions.  This double standard speaks volumes about the three senior board members and their attitudes towards Mrs. Lichter, Mrs. Donalds and every other stakeholder who opposes Common Core.   Does anyone really believe fellow board members should refrain from exercising their free speech rights, which are guaranteed in the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, at public gatherings in America?  Of course not, but these three senior members will stop at nothing in their efforts to disparage Donalds and Lichter.

And then there is the really big issue – the decorum of the board.  Do we really want to go down that path?  In January, Ms. Lichter was personally attacked by her fellow board members for allowing a group of community members to review books because of the “public perception.”  This public perception firestorm was created by the enemies of liberty and fanned by the three senior members of the board at the January school board meeting.  Liberal activist groups like the Stonecrab Alliance, the Collier Democrat Party and the leadership at the Collier Teacher’s Union trumpeted lie after lie about Ms. Lichter and the citizens who gathered to review textbooks.  I know I have seen Mrs. Lichter on at least two television news stations talking about the truth behind their book reviews.  But the Chair has still done nothing to ease the public’s concerns, despite Mrs. Lichter’s clear statement from the dais about her involvement in merely facilitating that group’s textbook review process along with the superintendent.  To the contrary, instead of clearing the air, the Chair chose to allow the flames to be fanned and permitted lies to be spouted from the podium. 

Have we really come to a point in Collier County politics where our children’s education is being sacrificed on the altar of the status quo?  Every board member at the dais knows that group of textbook reviewers had no power to do anything.   There was no board vote to form that committee and there was no vote to empower them.  The board knew that their work was unofficial.  Yet none of the senior members saw fit to speak the truth about this issue.  Curatolo, Sprague and Terry are transparent about one thing; they have clearly demonstrated to me that they are willing to defend the status quo, even at the expense of our children’s minds.

Let’s come together.  Let’s put the children first.  Let’s put aside the personal attacks.  Let’s agree to set a new course to make our district schools the highest performing in the nation.  We can do better!

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