School board members preventing equal access

Published 8:47 am Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dear Editor,

There is a problem within the Danville schools that is larger than the school board not renewing Dr. Look’s contract. The problem is privilege, entitlement and access.

The 2016-2017 Danville school report card shows that 66.4 percent of our students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. That is the MAJORITY of Danville students. These students rarely have an adult who can advocate for the students’ education. Dr. Look is an advocate for ALL students in the Danville schools.

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Dr. Look goes into the schools, where he helps serve food to our students. He helps clean the cafeteria tables. Where else will he have this type of easy access to talk with and listen to students? A teacher who has taught in the Danville schools for 18 years told the school board about Dr. Look being in the cafeteria and how important it was for students, teachers, and staff to have that type of access. He goes to them. He understands the importance of access.

A quick search of the Danville board of education contact page will give phone numbers for Ms. Matthews, Ms. Mattherly and Mr. Becker. Mr. Becker’s is the only cell phone number. Mr. McCowan nor Ms. Finke have phone numbers listed.

During the controversial Danville school board meeting, the board chair sent and received texts with her cell phone. According to a letter from the school board’s attorney, all but one of those texts was from someone at the meeting. This type of easy access is a privilege to a select few. This limited, entitled access strengthens the division between those who have easy access to the ear of board members and those who do not.

Lonnie Harp, the most recent former board chair, in his letter to the editor last week, pointed his finger at Dr. Look, blaming him for creating division within the school system. The division has always been there. Dr. Look has dared to shake up the status quo. This has made those with the privilege of access uneasy. He is trying to make courageous, systemic, cultural change. Scary stuff.

The school board conflict is not over educational policy or curriculum. It’s based in fear of what will happen when the barriers to access are finally removed. When ALL students have equal access, not the traditional entitled few.

This change is necessary and long over-due.

Elaine Wilson-Reddy