I write this for no other reason than to apologize. I understand that, as superintendent, everything I say reflects on the Rutland City Public Schools. I understand that it reflects on every one of you who has dedicated your lives to the children and the community. I recognize that the words and analogies I used at Castleton University were hurtful, harmful and disrespectful to many. In no way did I intend to compare teachers or staff to the horrible people I chose in my analogies. As we often know, it is not intention but perception that creates the message, and I deeply regret my choice of words.

Rutland is a great community that I hope to be a part of for a long time. There is so much for me to learn. I thank the gentleman who spoke at the recent School Board meeting for chastising and educating me and hope others will through the course of time. I ask you to find in your heart the ability to forgive me, yet not forget: to judge my actions while remembering my words.

Adam Taylor

Rutland City Public Schools superintendent

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(4) comments

Mrvermont

Words do create perceptions. The bizarre and predatory relationship that was used through multiple analogies to describe the nature of teacher-student relations was troubling and disturbing. But let me put that aside. Let me except it as an error.

It still misses the point of the problem: a superintendent who does not see that education is the principle role of teachers and learning the principle job of students.

Instead, for Mr. Taylor, education is about 'breaking through' the emotional barriers of children, specifically children from dysfunctional backgrounds. That is a laudable enough goal, but it's a matter of methods. As a parent, the past academic year has been so alarming to me. School quality has spiraled horribly in the last year, in a school district that I have always really liked. It seem that the entire focus of student policy is now focused on marginalized and troubled children, in ways that have neither helped them nor the majority of the students attending the city schools learn.

Superintendent Taylors’ decision to close down a specialized school that focused on helping emotionally disturbed children learn and placing them in regular classrooms didn't help, from anything I've seen or heard, get these kids emotionally self regulated.

They need help, and we should help them, but not by making excuses for negative and injurious behaviors. But the entire shift seem to be one where the violent children, the children who disrupt class, who put other kids at risk, who even strike their teachers, as the true victims and everyone else as the 'problem.' Problem children can force a classroom to vacate its class for hours at a time, children have have engaged in acts of assault are returned immediately to the classroom besides those they have assaulted, to prevent them from missing any time learning. Never mind what this does to the other students, nor the undue power it gives students to act with bad intentions and hold teachers and peers hostage to their outbursts.

While not the only analogy that matters, the central one of education must always be this: a teacher's job is to educate and a and students job is to learn. Whatever other aspects of learning exist, and there are many and important ones, this cannot be sacrificed on the altar of some ‘social ideal’ that undermines the very foundations of education.

headlam

I would ask that people take a breather before passing judgement on Superintendent Taylor. If you have questions or concerns about what he is doing I suggest that you make an appointment and meet with him. His visions may be foreign to Vermont but as a long time educator who has worked around the world and in Vermont, he makes a good deal of sense. Children won't learn unless their emotional and physical needs are met. Even the best curriculum won't cure those ills. Most of what is wrong with the system has been decades in the making. It didn't start with his administration.

Mrvermont

Below please find my reply to your post.

Mrvermont

In regard to headlam, I did not write my response out of some emotional impulse. I don't require a 'breather.' I'm writing as a witness to the deteriorating quality of education for my children in the span of the current school year. The change has been dramatic and highly negative. In seeking to find out what had been going wrong, I came to understand that the entire 'culture' of education had shifted with the introduction of Mr. Taylor as Superintendent. This is something that has been discussed with administrators, including Superintendent Taylor.

Regarding his 'vision', any vision that does not make education the central point of school is without an anchor. Again, I don't dismiss that there are children emotional and psychological problems that need to be addressed. The belief that these are best addressed by allowing children to disrupt classes, act violently against peers and faculty, and remain in the same classroom to prevent learning day after day is irresponsible. If I believed this had actually helped these marginalize children improve, emotionally or academically, I might be on board. Instead, by creating an environment that is permissive and gives no meaningful consequences to serious violations of school rules, it has actually encouraged the worst behaviors to become permanent. We're encouraging the worst behaviors, rewarding defiance. This becomes a model for the other students who essentially see these students as models of behavior, creating a chain of negative consequences throughout the student body.

Teachers are helpless in this situation, as Mr. Taylor has set administrative policies that essentially blame teachers for bad behavior, and they can't remove children from classrooms.


Also, its the belief that school can address all the physical and emotional needs of children from homes that are abusive, with drug-addicted parents who subject their children to tragic circumstances, that is misplaced. Schools can't be mother and father to children, and removing children from dangerous homes and providing alternative support systems would be a much more effective way to get at the root causes of the problem, rather than upturn the entire focus and premise of education. The Oakland school system, more to the point, should hardly provide a model--for either Vermont or California. Look at the school ranking and test scores. I don't believe that Superintendent Taylor causes problems decades in the making, but I do believe he presents the wrong solutions, in ways that hurt educational quality for all children.

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