Editorial: Stillwater Area School Board, Can We Please Start the Healing Process?

Out of one side of his mouth, the Stillwater Area Public Schools Board Chair says it is time for the district to unify — and to heal — after two years of turmoil over school closings.

Out of the other side of his mouth, he says science teachers at the high school who have concerns about overcrowding need to be “cuffed upside the head.”

Last time I checked, “cuffing someone upside the head” rarely leads to healing.

For more than a year, I’ve heard calls to action from various members of the board — and our community — to start the healing process. It’s May. The school year will come to a close this month. I have yet to see that healing process begin.

Generally speaking, healing takes some form of humility from both sides of a disagreement. It takes some level of responsibility for where we are, from both sides of the argument.

Often times, it starts with an apology.

I’m sorry we’ve disagreed, but we all agree we want the best for the kids in the Stillwater Area school system, so how do we get there?

We’ve all said some hurtful things about each other at times in our disagreement, how do we, with respect, move forward?

I’m sorry for the way this process played out, we learned a lot about each other during the last two years, how can we put our differences aside and work together?

It would have been nice to read something along these lines in the Pioneer Press story on Sunday:

I’m sorry that, as the chair of the Board of Education, I said high school science teachers who disagree with the changes made to the high school from a district and board level need to be “cuffed upside the head.”

I didn’t mean to be dismissive of teachers’ concerns, I too, was once a teacher. I understand your passion and appreciate your concerns. I didn’t use my best judgement when I said, as an elected official, that you should be “cuffed upside the head.”

I shouldn’t have said it.

I’m sorry Stillwater Area Public Schools was shown in a negative light — again — in the east metro’s largest newspaper. As the board chair, I take responsibility that my quote became a zinger in the media.

Humility, respect and trying to understand those who disagree with us goes a long way in rebuilding relationships … and eventually trust.

Having the courage to own your mistakes, however large or small they may be, goes a long way when rebuilding relationships … and eventually trust.

Having the courage to listen to those we disagree with, and engaging in respectful, and open dialogue, about what got us here and where we go now is needed in Stillwater Area Public Schools.

We need to heal. We need to unify. We need to support our teachers. We need to move forward — for our kids.

Please, you’re the Chair of the Stillwater Area Board of Education, we need you to think before you speak. We need you to find the courage to start the healing process.

We need you to show us you’re willing to participate in the healing process and unifying the district, not just tell us.