Journey of a Superintendent: Trust Based Relationships

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of Schools

On my way back to the office this afternoon from one of our schools, I heard a news story about what is going on at the capitol in Wisconsin. We have all watched and listened over the past several weeks, as some elected officials have sought to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of unionized state workers in Wisconsin, and elsewhere. No matter what your position is on unions, I think we should all be concerned about the abolishment of the rights of any human beings. What seems even worse is that there seems to be no willingness among the powers that be in Wisconsin to actually TALK to the other side!

While the nation watches, hundreds of individuals have gone to the capitol to express their disagreement with Wisconsin’s governor. After all, don’t we all want a chance to be heard? In response, the decision was made to close the capitol building. Anyone who left the building was not readmitted.  Policemen were asked to enter and remove the teachers, other union members and supporters.  Apparently, reason was applied by the officers, who elected not to remove the individuals; instead, some joined in by spending the night with the protesters in the capitol. As of Tuesday morning, fifty individuals remained. I could not believe my ears when the reporter indicated that there has been an attempt to bar the windows from opening in order to force all remaining individuals out, due to lack of food and water. All I could think was “REALLY?” Is this the type of discourse we really want to have as citizens of the United States?

I have to tell you how disheartening it is to see the level of brokenness in relationships, and the failure to communicate which is occurring. We will not always agree with each other. I know that the staff I work with will not always understand or agree with decisions that I make. However, what I also know, and absolutely value, is that I make better decisions when I get input and feedback from others. I can’t tell you how many times I have entered into a situation thinking one way, and then at the end of the conversation I had new or improved thinking and decisions. Eliminating voices whose ideas and beliefs are different from our own is never the solution.

Here in the district we have experienced change that has pushed each of us out of our comfort zone. I hope we can always remember that while we may not always agree, the only way to make better decisions for our students and families is to work together. We can spend our time in combative discourse, or we can spend our energy finding the best solutions to all of our challenges. After all, if not us, then who? “It’s up to us.”

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