I read with interest the editorial from the Hutchinson News, “Three Cheers for Those Meddling Kids.” It reviewed the efforts of students at Pittsburg High School who dug a little deeper into the background of their new principal. What a stark contrast to how the students at Iola Middle School were treated that disagreed with the action of Principal Jack Stanley and Superintendent Jack Koehn.
At Iola Middle School, students were threatened with suspension if they spoke up, signed petitions or otherwise opposed the injustice that was done to Iola Middle School teacher David Cunningham. Parents, students and other teachers were threatened if they got involved. Yet this promising young teacher was let go based on hearsay evidence without proper investigation. Rather than threatening students, would it not be better to encourage them to tell the truth? That seems to be a novelty in today’s society.
The big buzzword right now seems to be preventing bullying! Yet in a school that has used this as a mantra of sorts, they have set the supreme example of bullying, and allowing no defense by the victim. Both students and parents told Mr. Cunningham that they were contacted and told to drop the matter. Teachers were told that they were not to talk about it, and that if students asked they were to say that Mr. Cunningham was “home taking care of his mother because she was sick.” This was a total untruth.
The final fate of this young teacher was left in the hands of a superintendent who never even spoke to him about the incident or in the two years he has been teaching at the school. It was then rubber-stamped by the school board without proper investigation, despite signed statements from eyewitnesses who said the comment in question was made by a student and not Mr. Cunningham.
This is the kind of travesty against promising young educators who are in teaching for the right reasons and are driven out for all the wrong reasons. A big part of a good administrator’s job is mentoring and nurturing young teachers. They should have regular reviews and have goals set and assessed, something that is not being done by Iola Middle School. School board members should hold administrators accountable for completing regular reviews of all teachers, but especially new teachers, where any problems are addressed early on and the teacher is given a chance to grow in their skills. This is not happening in our schools, or at least not at Iola Middle School.
It would appear that we have two administrators who took the easy way out since they are both leaving at the end of the year, and don’t want to admit they didn’t do their jobs. The school board job is not easy, I have been where you are, and I encourage you to become aware of the evaluation process and make administrators accountable before injustice is done to another young teacher.
According to an article in the Tuesday issue of the Register, it seemed that some on the Iola City Council suggested letting children who made A’s on their report cards get into the Iola Municipal Pool for free.
What kind of people do we have on the city who would even think of discriminating against children who did not make A’s on their report cards. As a taxpayer, I am against that kind of discrimination.
Hear that “A” kid saying to another child, I am better than you because I got in for free.
Many years ago, I coached a young girls ball team. And at that time, every child got to play, no matter how good or poorly they played. There was no discrimination then.
A war veteran,
Earl E. Bell