Letters to the Editor

Bullying tactics

February 25, 2010


To the editor:

In an Oct. 14, 2008, chat with Lawrence Journal-World readers, Scott Morgan said that, regarding his loss in the subsequent school board election due to his support of closing elementary schools in 2003, “I paid a political price for making these tough choices.”

Scott Morgan did not pay a price for closing elementary schools. Children did.

Choosing to close an elementary school is not a “tough choice,” no matter how often board members say so. Toughness is not required to burden one group of parents, devalue one neighborhood, and add turmoil to the lives of one group of students. Taking away a school from students who are already disadvantaged — students who are poor or members of racial and ethnic minorities or English language-learners — is not tough. Better words for it are “weak,” “shortsighted,” “elitist,” “cowardly” and, at the least, “lacking in imagination.”

“Tough” is taking power away from people who are already powerful. Reworking administrators’ salaries, encouraging voluntary “give backs” by the highest-paid employees, passing the cost of non-academic extracurriculars on to consumers and mandating temporary furloughs among employees would require toughness.

Board members need to stop wringing their hands and complaining that this choice is so “tough.” Closing a school so that the pain of cuts is not felt as sharply by the ones who can bear it most is not “tough.” Placing the burden of cost-cutting on those who can least bear it is not “tough.” It’s bullying, and we don’t tolerate it in our schools.


Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Why did Treanor Architects use 110 McDonald Drive(USD 497 admin Building) as an address regarding a campaign contribution to Scott Morgans state senatorial campaign?

Does Treanor Architect have an office in the admin building? If so why?

Have Save Our Neighborhood Schools been able to gain access to budget information that has been denied to them yet?

With Treanor Architects using 110 McDonald Dr as an address for a campaign contribution it might be time to take a look at the books.

Does Treanor Architects have larger aspirartions such as designing larger elementary schools that would NOT save taxpayers one thin dime?

Time to sell off that admin building and move the office to the virtual school building.

USD 497 not too long ago put a lot of money into the East Heights buildlng they are suggesting to close down. It's like money grows on trees.

USD 497 put a lot of tax bucks into New York Elementary not that long ago. It's like money grows on trees.

USD 497 bought and remodeled the new admin building when times were financially questionable. It's like money grows on trees. Was Mr. Morgan on the board then?

Stephen Roberts 8 years ago

Rebecca - my children's school closed in 2003. While at the time my children were disappointed, we became involved aqt our NEW NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL and they were given more opportunities that the new school than the old.

Sometimes people just don't like change but wait didn't President Obama get elected because of Hope and Change?? not to mention he wasn't Bush?

Paula Kissinger 8 years ago

The "we" in we don't tolerate bullying in our schools would be lip service from the school board and the rest of the administration because it is a lie and does exist in our schools and is tolerated by the aforementioned groups. My child and dozens of others I know have had to tolerate it, most with after effects. Morgan and friends bullied their way into getting schools closed 7 years ago and will do it again. The bullying of the school board sets the tone all the way down to the students. They do learn from what the adults do, you know.

Sorry to say but those who are now facing closure of "their" school and voted for Morgan and the others who want to close schools are getting what they asked for because they did not do their homework on him before the election. It likens to those who voted for Obama and now regret that.

Jennifer Dropkin 8 years ago

Spot on, and thank you, Rebecca. How "tough" is it to manipulate children's lives without personal consequence? It just gets me how so many people think sacrificing kids and communities is an acceptable way to balance budgets.

Neighborhood schools anchor neighborhoods; closing them down sets neighborhoods adrift. How interesting that school-closing plans coincide with current plans to reduce or eliminate bus service to certain neighborhoods and the renewed discussion about the lack of neighborhood grocery stores.

I sense a pattern.

mom_of_three 8 years ago

And extracuricullar activities already pay a fee. So you would want them to raise the fees? how much would you want to raise it, and what about those who couldn't afford it?

right_down_the_middle 8 years ago

Merrrill raking the much, as usual; posting with absolutely no clue as to the facts. Those are tidy little things he'd rather not be bothered with. Treanor rents space at 110 McDonald and has for quite some time. It is one of their corporate addresses. Treanor has also been a consistent and generous donor to the public school system in Lawrence. Merrill wouldn't know a thing about that though cause he can't find a copy/paste link on moveon.org or some such site.

Jeremy DeBoard 8 years ago

edjayhawk (anonymous) says...

WHats a PAD?

Pender's Asinine Discussions

Jeremy DeBoard 8 years ago

If all schools were private we would have bigger problems.

headdoctor 8 years ago

jadkansas (anonymous) says... If all schools were private we would have bigger problems. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Nurnberg (anonymous) says... As it is, you are subject to whims of appointed and elected elites.

Yup, if you think illiteracy is a problem now wait until all schools are private. At least with public schools the lower income people would have a shot at an education.

The appointed and elected elites may be a headache but dealing with corporate executives would be worse. At least with the public system you do still have some input.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Frank Hays 8 years ago

Rebecca, your letter is dead on! Thanks for writing it. Problem is that we put the bullies into power. I think Malcolm X said it best, Power never takes a back step only in the face of more power." These people are working in concert toward a specific end that ultimately makes people money yet screws our kids out of a quality education. Right down the Middle states that Treanor has been a fine and loyal supporter of the Lawrence School District. Yea, I bet they have benefited a plenty from recent capital improvements within the district and when they support "their" candidate/s in the local elections. I wonder if there is any quid pro quo going on? Dang hard to prove for sure. As the administration sucks the lifeblood out of the district (to the tune of over $8.0 million a year) our children are the ones that get to pay the ultimate price. No, the school board nor the administration caused the latest financial crisis in funding but they have been IRRESPONSIBLE for years in the manner in which they have spent and managed the district's resources and it is a time for an accounting. Here is an acid test that something is rotten in Denmark. When your district's HR director is an attorney the end is not too far off!

JustNoticed 8 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

windex 8 years ago

No, Rebecca, your letter isn't dead on, it's sarcastic and mean-spirited. I know many of the school board members. They ran for school board office because they care about this community and they are willing to volunteer hundreds of hours every year to try to serve the interests of the children of this community. Not just some children, but all children. They're grieving the choices they have to make. They didn't ask for the economy to tank. They don't "want" to close schools and they don't "want" to increase the ratio by one or two or three or four. These ARE tough choices and virtually all of them are bad for kids. But wherever the blame lays, it isn't with these seven individual volunteers. KCK is looking at closing something like HALF of its schools. This is not a local problem. It's a state problem. And it won't be solved by you throwing a childish temper tantrum and pointing your finger at the local school board.

Frank Hays 8 years ago

windex - you must work for Treanor!? These so called volunteers ran for these offices and can you explain to me how Scott Morgan's campaign was funded by Treaner Architects!? I used to thing that it was only Washington politicians that were bought and paid for by the elite but I don't have to go that far to look for corruption. You must home school your children while working for Treanor. These are the same scoundrels that laid off educators and closed schools in 02-03. Modus operandi for sure. We need some people (not puppets) that can stand up to these mealy mouths and make the right decisions for our children. When education starts to deteriorate it is a slippery slope. Oh, and you want to compare us to KCK?! Are you kidding me? I think I pay a little bit more tax than Wyandotte county counterparts so take that argument somewhere else. I have voted for my last school bond issue EVER as this group of incompetents have proven they are untrustworthy!

gr3sam 8 years ago

Did anyone watch Morgan's actual physical reaction to this presentation at the SB meeting on Monday?? What I saw from Morgan was tacky, unprofessional and downright rude! Who does he think he is??

Stephen Roberts 8 years ago

gr3sam - I bet he has heard the same thing from each of the people who have spoken at just about every board meeting and public forum. I am hoping the SONS group isn't hijacking the public forums, only two to go.

Frank Hays 8 years ago

Our schools are broke but we have some damn nice looking football stadiums to brag about.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years ago

Fascinating, my comment regarding Merrill's accusation of fraud was deleted and yet Merrill's accusation of fraud remains?

wolfy 8 years ago

The Kansas Open Records Act provides a means for inspecting USD 497 documents, emails, etc. Those who question the district's motives should make a KORA request. Allegations of fraud, corruption and breach of fiduciary duty without factual support are not credible and do nothing more than inflame an already distressed and agitated public.

Quiet 8 years ago

Windex: I saw both Rebecca's speech at the last board meeting and her LTE. Both had strong language but I wouldn't characterize either as a "temper tantrum," a phrase that minimizes her major claim, a claim you ignore. How would you describe the board's behavior at that meeting? Mary Loveland admitted she had no notes prepared and didn't even show SONS the courtesy of knowing the group's name, and Bradford insisted that the answer was "simple"--as if we were too dumb to "get it" and told the community we needed to "get our s*** together" and dismissed many of the ideas that had been forwarded to him as totally dumb. Then he didn't share anything new, any of the ideas that might work. Oh, and the board members (except for Vanessa Sanburn, who actually had a concise statement about her position, the very thing they had been asked to discuss) prattled on stream-of-consciousness for more than an hour. The result? Those parents who were using the free childcare provided during the meeting until 9:00 had to leave. Was it the board's goal to drive away people who wanted to participate in the discussion but couldn't without childcare (people in one-parent homes or with spouses who work second shift--uh, people who are more likely to be poor)? I don't know, but that was the result.

Anger is justified. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that closing schools in particular neighborhoods will disproportionally affect certain kids OR that the board has not addressed this. The speaker before Rebecca at the meeting questioned why the fact that so many of the schools (She focused on NY) have greater-than-average numbers of kids in poverty but the board has not addressed this. It was a great question! The result of closing one of these schools will increase disparity in educational opportunities as well as in neighborhoods; that's as plain as day. Is it racist if the result is segregation but the intention is not? Board members might be nice individuals (I am sure they are; I saw Scott Morgan helping a woman a box on the icy pavement at the meeting, and Vanessa Sanburn and Bob Byers are social workers and Rich Minder is in social services. I don't know them personally, but they are people who have clearly made a commitment to helping people. I can't speak about Loveland and Morgan as people because I just don't know about them). But I've seen them all as board members, and I was unimpressed with their lack of creative leadership. Rebecca was right: they can do better.

Frank Hays 8 years ago

If the board closes more schools then this town better never, ever vote in another bond issue. They have proven themselves untrustworthy for any future schools!!!!!!! Incompetents, all of them!

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years ago

"Did_I_say_that (anonymous) says...

@ gl0ck0wn3r - I didn't get to read your comment before it disappeared. However, Merrill is just asking questions; he did not make an accusation. Have you read the data that he references? It does raise questions."

There is a difference between asking questions and asking questions that contain accusations and it is a constant tactic of his. Example: "Does the JW allow certain people to violate TOS rules on a routine basis?" clearly includes the accusation - in context - that I think the JW allows certain people to violate TOS rules.

An example of Richard using this tactic is in this post in which he infers fraud:


"Is USD 497 cooking the books,spending money in the wrong places or what?"

My comment that was deleted simply pointed out that he uses this tactic to smear people he does not like and used an example - about him - to point it out. If his post isn't wrong, then my post shouldn't have been deleted. I suppose some copypasta pigs are more equal than others.

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