• Title: "If you are not outraged, you're not paying attention"
  • Author: Chris Savage
  • Date: 09/11/2003
  • Additional Categories: Chris Savage

"If you are not outraged, you're not paying attention"

First of all, a heartfelt thank-you to the four East Lansing School Board members who finally stepped up to the plate on behalf of our school district. Their courage in the face of an unpleasant year ahead while our lame-duck superintendent serves out his remaining time is laudable. Given Dr. Giblin's history of making lives rough for those who oppose him, I'm sure they will need this courage into the future. Also, a second heartfelt thank-you to the teachers who are dealing with the current renovation snafu with grace and professionalism - ladies and gentlemen, you do us proud.

I read with incredulity the headlines in the Lansing State Journal about how Dr. Giblin's ouster is "a mystery" and, in a recent PUBLIC RESPONSE editorial by Ronan Patterson, how this was a "sneak attack" handled in a "backhanded manner". It makes me wonder just where these people have been for the past 18 months or so? Have they not watched a budget surplus being squandered into a nearly $8 million deficit? Have they not watched as the Giblin administration alienated and disenfranchised the residents of our district, staff members and the teachers themselves? Have they not witnessed the mismanagement of the school renovations, upgrades endorsed, indeed promoted, by Dr. Giblin himself?

As I fought rush hour traffic to make the 30 minute drive from my sons soccer practice in Okemos to Lansing Community College to help with my daughter's swim team inter-squad meet, spent another 15 minutes finding a parking spot in the LCC ramp and then paid for the privilege to park there, I thought back to the many school board meetings I attended last year. Meetings where parent after parent, resident after resident stepped up to demand Dr. Giblin's resignation. I thought back to the hundreds of unhappy school district residents I spoke to while running for the board - people fed up with mismanagement and a profound lack of positive leadership. I remembered the "conference table fiasco" that resulted in the procurement of a $15,000 table (while we were told we should be happy - it used to be $30,000.)

I came to the conclusion that anyone who didn't see this coming has had their head buried in the sand over the past 2 years. We have had months and months of public debate on this topic and it's clear the Dr. Giblin has ceased to provide the leadership that this school district desperately needs during the current education financing crunch we face. The time for talk is over - it was time for action and our school board took that very appropriate action.

The abysmal management of the school renovations and the late start to school that ensued is the final straw after a dubious career in our town. Dr. Giblin appears to live in a dream world where only "a couple of people" would be inconvenienced by the late start and likely late finish of this school year. As the details have unfolded, we find out that causes of the late start were largely avoidable. A serious lack of oversight is clearly a problem when school distict parents of swimmers must rescue a vital (expensive) piece of electronics equipment needed to run the pool timers from the "scrap pile". A stunning lack of communication in all arenas is epidemic. To top it all off, he publicly compliments the Clark company conducting the renovations in the same last-minute letter he sends to inform parents late start of the school year. Far from complimenting this group, I think an in-depth investigation into the causes of the current problems and their role in it is in order.

We've gone from bad to absurd in East Lansing schools. It's embarassing, it's frustrating, it's expensive and it's time for a change, not more talk and debate. The majority of school district residents have known this for some time. Thank heavens our school board finally woke up, listened and took action.

FOR PUBLICATION

Chris Savage

Meridian Township

East Lansing School District