'The perception of poverty'

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As former educators who taught successfully in Beloit schools, we have heard our interim superintendent and the public relations officer mention on several occasions that the reason some things cannot be accomplished in our district is poverty. The achievement gap and why we can't close schools on a below zero day were due to poverty in our community.

We know that poverty and education success are inextricably joined. To tackle poverty and educational issues, programs need to focus on providing access to food, housing and health care both mental and physical. What poor families need and what policy makers believe they need requires a careful examination of the existing culture and active listening. Change efforts within the district would mean a move toward partnerships for access to basic services, employment, housing, access to food and of course health care.

Yet, have we heard even one discussion at the board meeting on how to address this most critical issue? No, the current board spins their wheel debating whether the Equality committee is an ad hoc committee or a standing committee. And even though we vote for the members of the board to represent us they have been counseled that they don't need to devote so much time for public comments so more of their work has been done in closed session and numerous discussion took up time on how many minutes anyone could speak to the board. We have not heard this board engage in even one substantive discussion on the fundamental programmatic changes that may be needed.

Strategic leadership in this community has been absent from the chief administrative officer and the board president.

Although this majority lame duck board will get to name the next superintendent without any input from the community, we can only hope that when we vote on April 2 the sitting members are replaced with new candidates more willing to understand the need for open dialogue, community and parent partnerships and the wherewithal to really address poverty as an educational issue rather than an excuse for what is not being done.

Dorothy Harrell

Syretha Washington

Elizabeth Weaver

Beloit

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