In Response To Character Assassination
To the Editor:
In response to the character assassination published last week against Jennifer Larkin, as a fellow school parent who was also in the room at Open House, I feel compelled to respond in strong disagreement. On the evening referenced by Mr Reynolds I saw no such campaigning or “combative questioning.”
After we reviewed the curriculum and upcoming testing, parents were invited to ask questions. I asked about the new standardized testing implemented in the district, i-Ready, and how we would be able to correlate the results from last year’s NWEA to measure learning gains/losses. We also discussed the math program used, Bridges, which was a new program piloted last year.
Ms Larkin asked about how the program accommodates children who have trouble with reading comprehension, citing to her own child who struggles in that area. This entire discussion was centered around the impact of the changes to this year’s testing and math curriculum on children’s learning.
What about this exchange advanced a political agenda?
What I witnessed was a mother who was rightly concerned about the impact of more word problems on her child’s math education in consideration of her reading difficulties. That’s not political gamesmanship, that’s courage — courage to ask legitimate and difficult questions in public about your struggling child in the hope that the answers could benefit others.
Jenn has had to speak up to ensure her daughter received the services to which she is entitled. Sadly, too many other parents do not feel comfortable or welcomed to question our children’s educators, and this disincentive puts those students at risk of falling behind. Jenn was also vocal in getting our kids back into the classroom last year at a time when so many families — like my own — struggled with remote learning.
Regrettably, it has become commonplace for people to publicly shame and silence those with whom they disagree rather than engage in respectful dialogue.
Did Mr Reynolds try to reach out directly to Ms Larkin? No.
Instead, he unfairly tarred and feathered her in a public forum that gives her no ability to answer until the next publication, and then he shared his hatchet piece on social media and encouraged others to do so too — a political call to pitchforks.
This has a chilling effect on parents raising legitimate questions relating to their children. And there was a group ready to oblige with only half, distorted facts. Before Mr Reynolds judges Ms Larkin over her “behavior,” I suggest he examine his own. In the future, I hope Mr Reynolds is treated with more courtesy and kindness than he showed here.
My comments are my own as a mother, and not on behalf of the Board of Finance of which I am a member.