In the March 29 Dolores Star front-page article, "Emotional School Board Meeting Draws Large Crowd," I was quoted as telling the school board, "Don't let a handful of parents derail you." Taken out of context, it could easily be construed to mean, "Don't listen to parents," something one would never hear uttered from this educator whose doctoral study and postdoc research focuses on family and community engagement.
What I did say was that I was unaware of specific incidents to which Mrs. Plewe had referred. I attended the board meeting for the purpose of commending the board, faculty, and administration's dedication to academic achievement and the maintenance of inclusive learning environments. As a veteran teacher of 31 years I recognize this urgency; therefore I voiced support for the decision to pursue mediation and anti-bullying training and offered a donation for guest speaker Jamie Utt.
As I stated in a letter addressed to Superintendent Scott Cooper and the Dolores School Board, the success of our children depends on their ability to understand, appreciate and work with others. It would be a disservice to students and families not to prepare students to live in communities that will invariably become even more diverse than they are today. For this reason, cultural competency and respect for diversity is embedded in teacher education courses. As a professor of teacher education at Fort Lewis I am committed to such.
In order that your readers have the opportunity to understand my quote in context, I was not responding to statements made by individual parents at the board meeting. I was, and am, urging Dolores Schools to stay focused on academic excellence. The district has garnered a state-wide reputation for excellence -- becoming "derailed" by controversy is a threat to the success of Dolores Schools and to the community itself. I support positive mediation and believe many members of the community do too.
Dr. Kay Phelps
Teacher Education Dept.
Fort Lewis College