School Board

My co-worker all through Little League was a lad named Elwood Osterhoudt. Elwood was a member of the Rondout Valley School Board and other duties were calling him elsewhere. He asked if I would fill his un-expired term.

My children were still in junior high and elementary school.

I saw this as an opportunity to learn the working of a school system. I agreed and was introduced to the board members at a regular meeting. I was accepted and assigned to the transportation committee. I completed the un-expired term and was elected to two more terms thereafter.  I am thankful for the insight that allowed me save one teacher's position. And to ensure my son graduating with a State Regency diploma.

I had just returned from a customers site after being away for two weeks when I received a call from a teacher's wife. He being too embarrassed to call himself. She told me the board was not going to grant him tenure after five years with the school.

"Why", I asked?

"The board accused him of teaching sex education without permission", she returned.

Linda was in his class. Who was a better source of information?

"Does he teach sex education", I asked Linda?

"No Dad. He teaches about animals and insects, but the kids ask questions relating to humans and he answers them."

"Like what?" "Give me an example?"

"Well in answer to one question he told us what we call dry sex is dangerous, The sperm can swim from outside the vagina to the ovaries and conceive."

I could see a religious aspect coming to the surface. At the next board meeting I offered to have Linda answer any questions they may have.

"Oh no!" They wouldn't do that. "Anyway". They said, "the issue is that he taught biology, a subject in which he was not certified. His certification is Earth Science."

My confusion and curiosity arose.

"Why was he assigned to Biology when it should have been Earth Science?"

"Well", came the answer, "we didn't have a qualified person that year and he was asked to teach it."

"How did his average class grades compare to the rest of the county schools?"

I was told he ranked in the upper ninety per cent bracket.

Now I could remember my days in high school when small town people with narrow foresight could ruin a person's future.

I pictured the auditorium scene with J.J.Collins and the school board evaluating my painting. In no way would I allow that to happen here.

"Ladies and Gentlemen", I began, We have here a dedicated teacher who not only did what he was asked to do, but he did it exceptionally well. Now you are about to punish him for obedience. When this word reaches State Level it will be very embarrassing for this board.

A member moved that we grant Mr. Carroll tenure in Earth Science. Another member seconded the motion and a unanimous vote was taken.

I am indebted to Elwood Osterhoudt for my appointment.

This one incident would have made my service on the board fulfilling. However, Charles was entering his third year of high school. We had laid out a curriculum toward electrical engineering and he was carrying State Regency Standards.  After Charlie's appointment with the guidance counselor, he told me he would be put on local level math for his junior year.

I asked why?

The guidance counselor decided his pervious year's mark was not high enough to guarantee a passing grade the next year.  

I called the counselor and asked, "If we started Charles on Regency Standards and he should fail, could we then move him to local level?"

"Well yes", he responded.

"And if we started him at local level and found he excelled, could we then move him to Regency Standards?"

"Well no", returned the counselor, "he would have lost too much advanced instructions."

"For that reason", I insisted, "we will start him on Regency Standards."

Charles graduated with a Regency Diploma and Latin recognition. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Management at Merrimac College and has now served eight years as manager of the Federal Reserve Employees Credit Union in Boston, MA.

A first marriage failed, although he has a fine son, Mark, who has just received his Bachelor degree from Mass U.

Charles is now married to a very pretty, compatible young lady - Marsha Yetman.

Realization was that the counselor is more concerned with the school's standing in the eyes of the State than with the future of the student. This I could not fight, though I'm afraid many students have suffered because of such philosophy.

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