My Turn, Michael Chapman: Handing out Tweedledee and TweedledumB awards

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 10, 2023

By Michael Chapman

Watching the school board meetings is like watching an old TV rerun of M.A.S.H. Remember when Radar O’Reilly would come into Colonel Blake’s office with a stack of papers? Plop them down on his desk and show him where to sign. Blake would ask what he was signing and Radar would just say papers that need signing.

Well the central office brings a request for $11.5 million to “refresh” the computers. They meant replace the less than 3-year-old computers. Why? They said they want to start a new “lease” on new computers, which we would own at the end of the seven payments. We have one more payment left on the current computers and they will be paid for and belong to the school system.

When I say “refresh the lease,” I feel like I need to hold my pinkie finger out. Their only reason for getting them? “By getting new computers now, they will have a better resale value in three years.”

The most important question was never asked. How will purchasing new computers improve the education of our students? It will not!

Will new computers teach our children to read better or do better math? Will this get us out of the basement of the worst school districts in the state?

When asked how much the last sale produced, the central office said they did not have a specific number, around $3 million. Around?

They gave no options like extending the Apple Care and keeping the current computers. They assumed that all of the classroom TVs were broken. There was no research done.

The most infuriating part of the meeting was listening to Chairman Hunter say that this was deja vu. He stated that three years ago he vowed not to vote for this again without hard facts and figures, which the presentation lacked. Then what does he do? Votes yes to the “refresh.”

Also voting yes were Marsh, Greene, Hightower and Jones.

My solution is simple. Pull the computers from K-5 except for one computer class. Use them as backups for middle and high school. Put books back into the primary schools. Hire two basic literacy teachers for each primary school. (Try to hire retired old-school teachers). Hire one basic literacy teacher for each of the middle and high schools.

Evaluate how many TVs work and replace any that don’t work.

Put a new policy into effect that puts new computers in the hands of sixth graders and they keep it through graduation. Offer it to graduating students for a nominal fee that can be spread out over the last six years of their education.

This school board wastes time dealing with everything but the improvement of our students’ education. When are we going to get our system out of the basement?

What family with children would want to move to Rowan County to put their children in schools rated in the bottom 10% of all districts in the state?

So I am presenting two awards. The TweedledumB award goes to Hunter, Marsh, Jones and Hightower for approving a plan to ask for $11.5 million without having all the facts and figures in front of them.

The TweedleDee award goes to the 15,706-plus residents who voted in the last election to keep things status quo either because they don’t care or have their heads in the sand. BTW: There is a tax bill coming to each of your homes for $732.

The children’s future still remains bleak. Please call or write the county commissioners and tell them no to foolish spending.

Michael Chapman lives in Salisbury and was a candidate for the  school board.