Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Whelan-Wuest stands out as ‘uniter, not a divider’

I am writing to voice my support for Ellen Whelan-Wuest for school board. I’ve spent the past 16 years of my career working in public education as a teacher and leader and have had the opportunity to work with dozens of school board members. Ellen stands out as somebody who is a uniter, not a divider. She is used to tackling complex, interrelated challenges in her day job as a leader for a criminal-justice reform nonprofit, and most importantly bringing together diverse stakeholders to make meaningful change. Finally (and refreshingly), Ellen is an excellent listener and is open when she doesn’t know something.

There is a traditional Masai greeting, “Kasserian Ingera,” which means, “And how are the children?” It’s a question that I believe our current school board could ask more. I’ve combed through the past months of board packets and can’t find any information about how our students are doing academically and social-emotionally. What I see are countless meetings about how to respond to demands from Save Our Schools, amendment changes, lawsuit threats, and open records requests.

Do our board members and leaders know the number of students who are off-track with their reading in 3rd grade and strategies to support these students? Do we know the percentage of students who aren’t receiving adequate mental health support? What are the equity gaps that we’re seeing and what strategies are we using to close those gaps? What percentage of our teachers and administrators are thriving? Especially as we’re emerging from the pandemic years, we need board members who can refocus on the most important priorities: 

1) students. 

2) selecting a great new superintendent.

3) crafting a long-term vision and strategy for our community.

I am confident Ellen will serve our community well by listening, finding common ground, and bringing the focus back to students.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Ellen for school board!

James Cryan


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